Geocoding Nepal

Hey everybody! My name is Mike Hathaway and I am a rising junior at the College of William and Mary. I am currently an Economics major, and will likely pursue a Chinese minor. This summer I am going to travel to Kathmandu, Nepal. There I am going to be working with the Nepal branch of Transparency International (TI-Nepal) – an international civil society group that publishes the corruptions perceptions index. They are helping to lead the fight against corruption globally. This fight is crucial to making sure that society can most effectively support its members. I will be leveraging my experience with AidData to help train TI-Nepal staffers in geocoding and data visualization methodology. By doing so, I hope that I can help make sure that development finance is actually going where it is supposed to.

Geocoding is the process of attaching a geographic latitude and longitude to a specific event. In the case of AidData we are geocoding development finance projects. We create data sets of the type, location, and size of various aid projects all across the world. These data sets can then be uploaded into visualization software such as ArcGIS that lets you create maps out of your data. Maps are (surprisingly) much easier to look at and understand then thousands of row’s in an excel file. You might even end up finding something interesting!

AidData is a single cog in the much larger Big Data revolution sweeping our world. This revolution is going to impact every facet of our lives, from more targeted advertisements, to the discovery of fundamental characteristics of human nature. Furthermore, big data is enabling us to quantify fields such as political science, and economics that were previously the realm of theory and intuition. Data is being produced in unheard of amounts as sensors and computers become ubiquitous in human society. At the micro level this data can appear random, and uninformative. At the macro level this data reveals broad patterns, offering us the ability to see the world in new and different ways.


  1. Dylan Kolhoff says:

    Interesting topic. I would be curious to hear (especially once you arrive in Nepal) the sort of problems you face in Nepal in particular when geocoding.