Broad Street Maps update

Broad Street Maps is currently taking a step back from formal activities as an organization. We are incredibly grateful to all of our supporters, partners and clients for helping us explore this important intersection and complete some exciting projects.

If you are still interested in having a conversation about our work, or doing a mapping project with independent members of our team, please reach out to any of us at:,, 

Reflections on World Health Worker Week

A community health worker takes the pulse of a patient in Rajasthan, India. She is one of a cadre of female health workers that goes door to door, delivering services to communities that otherwise wouldn't have access to quality care.  

A community health worker takes the pulse of a patient in Rajasthan, India. She is one of a cadre of female health workers that goes door to door, delivering services to communities that otherwise wouldn't have access to quality care.  

Last week, the global health community celebrated health workers around the world during World Health Worker Week 2015. The week was a chance to applaud the incredible work of health workers in strengthening health systems, as well as an opportunity to raise awareness about the current shortage of health workers in many countries. With 1.3 million community health workers (CHWs) currently, the WHO estimates that we need 4.25 million CHWs globally in order to achieve the Millenium Development Goals. Organizations like One Million Community Health Workers Campaign and Frontline Health Workers Coalition (FHWC) exist to try and bridge this gap, by advocating, supporting, and legitimizing the work of health workers around the world.

At Broad Street Maps, we talk a lot about CHWs. We talk about their power to bridge gaps in health care access and service delivery. And we talk about how we can, as Broad Street, attempt to develop a piece of technology that supports and bolsters their incredible and live-saving work.

What is a Community Health Worker?

Whether referring to community health workers, frontline health workers, village health workers, health promoters, community health volunteers, or one of the many other names given to the (mainly female) cadre of health workers around the globe, the overall goal is the same: improve the health of communities around the world.

The FHWC describes frontline health workers as, “...The first and often the only link to health care for millions of people living in the developing world. They are the most immediate and cost-effective way to save lives and improve health. This is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.”

Two of the earliest and most successful example of CHW programs were implemented in Southeast Asia, one in Bangladesh and one in rural India. BRAC (originally standing for Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee) was established in 1972 and now has over 80,000 CHWs who focus on treating two of the deadliest diseases in the country: TB and diarrheal diseases. BRAC has become a model for successful CHW programs across the world.

In India, CRHP Jamkhed has grown more slowly than BRAC but with similar intentions. CRHP focuses on training women who are illiterate and of the lowest caste to deliver primary health care, specifically surrounding antenatal and infant care. CRHP has also established a training program that attracts NGO leaders and government employees from across India and beyond.

The frontline health worker model has proven itself to not only be an extremely effective model for lowering the barriers to accessing health care in developing countries but also as an incredible model in the United States. While the context might be very different, the principle is the same: train community members so that they can easily and effectively spread knowledge and connect others to valuable community resources. The movement is growing slowly but here are a few different organizations/groups/clinics working to integrate the CHW movement into our health system:

Health Leads USA

Washington Global Health Alliance - Global to Local 

100 People

Camden Coalition 

CHWs: THE global health intervention 

Whether at home or abroad, we believe that CHW programs are perhaps the most effective, wide-reaching global health intervention. While the evidence base in support of this cause continues to build, here are the five points we keep coming back to as an organization: 

  • They deliver services to places where the health infrastructure has not yet been able to reach

  • It is an incredibly cost effective solution for governments; they are the smartest way to make tight budgets go further  

  • It is a local solution, hiring local people to serve their own community — that means not only investing education and money into local communities, but also unprecedented access and trust

  • Many programs hire exclusively women. In doing so, they empower an often disenfranchised segment of the population and potentially open up room for women in leadership roles within the community

  • Supporting CHW programs hits more MGDs than any other one initiative — both in the fact that these programs target maternal health and chronic diseases and that they provide livelihoods to local people.


Other great CHW resources:

NPR piece on CHWs in China:

FHWC’s Day in the life of a CHW:

Skoll Foundation's video: Meet three Women Who Are Saving Lives in Rural Kenya:

Mapping the Gaps: How the Crowd Can Build Better Public Health Systems

In the United States, we take access to geographic data and tools like Google Maps for granted. Anything we want to know about a place we can now get on our phones — whether it’s detailed driving directions or the number of coffee shops within a half mile radius. And if you’re a student, researcher, or generally interested citizen, there is also publicly available census data down to just a few city blocks.

But in many places around the world, this is not the case. In much of the developing world, not only are there gaps in road networks or unreliable population data, there are entire towns and cities missing from the map. And what concerns us most about this is not what their absence means for the integrity of the map (though it is worth pause), but what the implications are for the people who live in those un-mapped places.

We know that the strength of local public health systems is inextricably linked to basic infrastructure. And that being able to visualize that system as a whole — one made up of health centers and hospitals, water wells, bus stops, and marketplaces — is essential for delivering services to where they are needed the most. Without this information, it is incredibly difficult for humanitarian response teams to respond effectively to crises, or local health organizations to understand what a true picture of access looks like for the communities they serve. And as the nature of development itself changes, accurate mapping of infrastructure becomes a huge advantage for countries or regions seeking investment of all types.

Luckily, we aren’t the only people who believe this. The advent of free and open source data collection and mapping tools is creating a powerful paradigm shift with widespread effects on health systems, local governments, community movements, and disaster response, to name a few.

The most significant of these new tools is OpenStreetMap (OSM). OSM is a collaborative movement that aims to create a free, crowdsourced map of the world that not only harnesses the power of local knowledge, but also allows individuals and organizations to download the data for their own use. The value of OSM has been proven time and time again in the wake of natural disasters. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2013 typhoon in the Philippines, and the 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, volunteers from around the globe rallied to help build out local road networks and identify destroyed buildings, allowing emergency responders and local health workers to access the data they need to inform their decisions and focus their efforts.  

Monrovia, Liberia before and after volunteers mobilized to map the capital in response to the Ebola outbreak. According to the Missing Maps Project, about 3,000 volunteers have made almost 13 million edits to map roads, buildings, river and more since the start of the outbreak. Image courtesy of OpenStreetMap, 2014.

Monrovia, Liberia before and after volunteers mobilized to map the capital in response to the Ebola outbreak. According to the Missing Maps Project, about 3,000 volunteers have made almost 13 million edits to map roads, buildings, river and more since the start of the outbreak. Image courtesy of OpenStreetMap, 2014.

As the movement gains momentum, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) at OSM, along with The Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontiers (MSF), are championing efforts to build a better data infrastructure well before disaster strikes. Through a combination of on-the-ground data collection agents, partner NGOs, and remote volunteers, the Missing Maps initiative strives to improve the quality of geographic data in developing countries for a wide range of planning and development initiatives, including the delivery of basic health services.

Another incredible tool that brings the crowd to the map is Ushahidi. Ushahidi originally formed in 2008 out of an effort to map the incidents of violence after the election fallout in Kenya. Frustrated that journalists weren’t able to report the full story, the map was almost entirely crowdsourced from text messages and tweets. In 2010, Ushahidi teamed up with OSM in Haiti, crowdsourcing vital, real-time information for humanitarian response teams about everything from obstructed roads to the locations of survivors. Over six years later, Ushahidi has emerged as a tech leader in East Africa, seeking to transform the way information flows. The global non-profit now provides multiple data management systems and real-time mapping and communications tools that allow both the public and professionals to visualize essential data and make critical decisions in times of crisis.

Crowdsourcing data to populate the map has proved valuable not only in disaster response but also in community-mobilization efforts and local politics. Held up as the case study of the power of grassroots mapping to influence change, Map Kibera began as a response to the lack of public and open data — both geographic and otherwise — about one of the world’s best-known slums. Relying heavily on both of the tools above, as well as a combination of hand drawn maps, walking papers, and public participatory GIS sessions, they built what is now a robust community information project with continued digital mapping. In addition to generating a complete map of Kibera — available to the public through OSM — the project also created a community news website powered by Ushahidi and a video journalism project. Access to these maps allows the population to actively engage in the debate about how to improve their own home and health. Map Kibera has also been used as a piece of hard evidence to rally support from local and national governments to recognize the legitimacy of the Kibera community and the people who live there. In doing so, Map Kibera has helped local communities justify their claims and demand vital services.

As geographers, we believe that health is inherently geographic. And, therefore, that viewing data on a map provides a new perspective, because it links seemingly independent events together, thereby identifying patterns otherwise unseen. Having more robust, dynamic datasets for both healthcare workers and local communities results in lifesaving actions, as demonstrated in Haiti, Liberia, and countless other places around the world. And, as the open source movement continues to democratize cartography through crowdsourcing and access to free and simple applications, maps themselves have begun to serve as essential tools for not only visualizing, but also contributing to the fledgling data infrastructure in the developing world.


Branding Health: The Rise of Public-Private Partnerships in Global Health

For the past few months, we've been working with GlobalPost and The GroundTruth Project to investigate the rise of public-private partnerships in global health, for the project "Branding Health," a GlobalPost 'Special Report.' The report is the culmination of a year-long reporting effort, produced by the GroundTruth Project in partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation. The GroundTruth Project is a non-profit that publishes the work of young reporting fellows and a network of correspondents as ‘Special Reports’ for GlobalPost and its editorial partners, including NBC News and 

So, on Monday, our first ever interactive mapping project went live!

The partners tab visualizes which US Fortune 500 companies have global health partnerships with USAID.

The partners tab visualizes which US Fortune 500 companies have global health partnerships with USAID.

USAID’s public-private partnerships in global health and water sanitation are distributed across 76 countries. The trends tab shows which countries have the most partnerships and which countries have received the greatest amount of funding

USAID’s public-private partnerships in global health and water sanitation are distributed across 76 countries. The trends tab shows which countries have the most partnerships and which countries have received the greatest amount of funding

If you enjoyed the map, please share it! Tweet (#brandinghealth), post to Facebook, email it, etc. The GroundTruth journalists did a phenomenal job, and we’d love your help getting their work out there.

Finally, this project would not have been possible without our incredibly talented developer and good friend, Sam Matthews

We had a great time creating this map, but we also enjoyed reading all of the stories included in the final report. The following thoughts on PPP's are entirely our own, and in no way reflect the views of GlobalPost or the GroundTruth Project.

When we first began working with their team, they shared with us a striking statistic at the heart of their investigative report: “In 1970, over 70 percent of financial flows from the US to the developing world came from government aid, and the rest came from the private sector. Today, more than 90 percent comes from private sources.”

And these sources are companies that we know… Coca-Cola. Walmart. Chevron. Starbucks. McDonald's. Monsanto. Nike. General Motors.

It's an exciting concept: big companies with big budgets collaborating with USAID to tackle issues like maternal mortality, HIV/AIDS, water sanitation, and access to critical medicines. This model has the potential to result in more partnerships and collaboration, better strategic planning due to private sector support, and increased funding.

The goal of the GlobalPost Special Report was to investigate what these partnerships actually look like on the ground, however, see how they function, and question whether the model is indeed sustainable, effective, and positive. 

In Cameroon, for example, ExxonMobil is working to help combat malaria. Why malaria? And why Cameroon?  GlobalPost explains:

"One ideal for giving aid is to do a needs analysis, asking what is needed here? NGOs and governments commonly start their projects that way. But look at a list of current PPPs, and it is clear that they tend to focus on what the company needs: a healthy workforce, a good working relationship with the government, and good public relations. For the malaria project, Gregory Adams, director of aid effectiveness at Oxfam America, asks: 'Are there other public health needs that aren’t being met because they have less of an effect on ExxonMobil’s bottom line or work force? That’s an important question to ask, and I think it’s difficult to know the answer to that.'" 

Undoubtedly, there is a bit of a pattern: companies work in places where they have made business investments, and they do things that ultimately improve their bottom line.

Merck, for example, gets a huge tax break for giving away millions of dollars worth of free medicine as part of the African Program for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC). And Coke has a river clean-up project in Tanzania that quickly helped to manage potentially bad publicity, but was ultimately a band-aid solution for a larger lack of sanitation. 

Even "selfless collaboration," like the Project Last Mile that Coca-Cola works on in Tanzania can lead to indirect benefits for companies. According to a study conducted by Yale's Global Health Leadership Institute: "Businesses have found that acting in a socially responsible manner has benefits in the marketplace, including increased brand recognition, greater loyalty and advocacy behaviors among company stakeholders, and even preferential treatment by consumers."

So, maybe the companies should be giving more, and maybe they should be working harder to understand larger structural issues, like who will pay volunteers, and what the root causes of pollution and poor sanitation are. Actually, they should definitely be doing these things. But in the end, is it bad for these Fortune 500 companies to have ulterior motives for engaging in these projects? Should we expect entirely altruistic engagement, or is the innovation that we're really talking about here the idea that we can find a way for companies to be equally invested in projects from a market perspective, resulting in a potentially positive feedback loop that, without the company, wouldn't exist in the first place?

Ars Electronica Future Innovators Summit

This past week, our founders were invited to Linz, Austria to participate in the Future Innovators Summit (FIS).  The FIS was part of the Ars Electronica 2014, an annual festival for art, technology and society. This year, the theme was "C... what it takes to change." Ars Electronica explains the concept as:

“an inquiry into the prerequisites and framework conditions necessary to enable social innovation and renewal to emerge and make an impact. The focus was on art as catalyst. The in-depth elaborations, lively discussions and bold provocations featured, as usual, artists, scholars and scientists from all over the world—renowned intellectuals confronted by young contrarians, top experts encountering interested laypersons, the pioneers of the Digital Revolution face to face with the shooting stars of today’s media art scene."

There were 27 'future innovators' from all over the world, ranging from artists and scientists to entrepreneurs and academics. During the summit, we got to hear about the work of each individual innovator, meet with great mentors from a variety of industries, and participate in workshops.

Before we arrived, we had no idea what to expect from these workshops. Many of the events we've attended in the past have had formats that encourage us to explore our own concept - Broad Street Maps - and brainstorm ways to improve upon it. The FIS, however, was completely different. We spent two days with 3 other innovators: Yonghun Kim from South Korea, Yasuaki Kakehi from Japan, and Angela Oguntala from the USA/Denmark. In the first workshop, we randomly picked a series of prompts to spark conversation. Our words were: humans, the couple form, alcoholic, gunpowder/treason, bienenstalk (which means beehive), fuck the king. As a group, we used the conversations that emerged from these prompts to come up with a final question: How can we know what singularity will mean to humanity? We defined singularity as the moment at which artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence. We were then tasked with coming up with an answer to this question. We talked about what it means to be human, and how technology can hurt or enhance humanity. In the end, we decided to involve the audience in our exploration of this question, and came up with a series of interactive scenes, in which we presented two objects or actions, and asked volunteers to choose which one they saw as being "more human." We'll post a link of our presentation when it is posted online! 

Our awesome group

Our awesome group

All sound a bit confusing? It definitely was to us at first too! But it was an incredible experience to be surrounded by super creative, inspiring people who are exploring the intersection of art and technology and approaching that intersection from so many different angles. We were grateful for the opportunity to step back from our own ideas and work, and participate in new conversations, embrace our creative sides, and learn about so many new perspectives.

Major takeaways:

1. Singularity is a really terrifying, really exciting concept

2. Seoul and Tokyo are now at the top of our most-wanted travel lists

3. Drones can be amazingly beautiful

4. Cartography can take many forms


Health workers disinfect after leaving local health clinic; Photo from National Geographic

Health workers disinfect after leaving local health clinic; Photo from National Geographic

West Africa is currently experiencing the largest outbreak of Ebola since the disease was identified almost 40 years ago. We've been following the news since the original cases were reported in Guinea over three months ago, and our thoughts are with our friends and partners working in Sierra Leone and Liberia. With new information coming out everyday, below is a quick breakdown of the latest out of West Africa as well as a few maps that help to illustrate the burden, spread, and history of the outbreak. 

  • Largest single outbreak in history 
  • Total deaths: 729 
  • Total infected: 1,323
  • Countries affected: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, (Nigeria)
  • Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency, deploying security forces and quarantining communities where cases have been confirmed  
  • Liberia has closed all schools, sent nonessential government personnel home, deployed security forces, and closed all borders 
  • Peace Corps removes 340 of its volunteers in the three countries 
  • Renown Liberian doctor Samuel Brisbane, who was leading efforts in the country, dies from Ebola; two American health workers are being flown home to receive treatment 
  • West African airline Asky bans West African flights; Nigerian aviation authorities are checking all passengers coming from the three countries and enforcing mandatory testing on those with worrisome symptoms 
  • West African leaders are meeting in Guinea 


Map from National Geographic

Map from National Geographic

Map from the New York Times

Map from the New York Times

Map from the BBC

Map from the BBC

Graph from the BBC

Graph from the BBC

If you'd like to read more, this morning's article in the New York Times has the latest updates and Tuesday's piece in the BBC details developments from West Africa over the last few weeks. 

For general information about Ebola, the best place to start it the WHO's Ebola Fact Sheet. The BBC has also put together a short video "In 60 seconds: What is Ebola?" and National Geographic sat down with W. Ian Lipkin, the John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, for a Q & A about the outbreak.  


The World Cup, Mapped and Visualized



Our boys may officially (devastatingly) be out, but our World Cup fever is very much still alive. And in honor of the world's biggest single-event sporting competition, Broad Street Maps has compiled some of our favorite maps and data visualizations. 

1. Emil Johansson's Look at the 2014 FIFA World Cup 

And for those Spanish-speakers out there, check out VisualLoop's international infographic roundup here. Happy watching! 

Polio Eradication

Photo from (Hosam Katan/Reuters) 

Photo from (Hosam Katan/Reuters) 

Ever since we worked with Middlebury College professor Svea Closser to make maps for her research on the impact of polio vaccination campaigns on routine immunizations and primary health care delivery in 2012, we’ve been following along closely with the international developments related to polio eradication. This week, we were excited to see an encouraging report on Syrian polio eradication efforts in the Washington Post from friend and fellow Middlebury alum Tik Root.

Of special interest to us in Tik’s report, was the incredible scale and collaborative nature of the recent campaign successes. This past October, Syria confirmed its first case of polio since 1999.  And the response has been remarkable. During the fall, a group of small, Syria-oriented nonprofits formed an ad-hoc Polio Control Task Force, bringing together dozens of organizations, from local groups to foreign governments, and even SAMS, the opposition-linked Assistance Coordination Unit. They rapidly recruited thousands of almost exclusively Syrian-based volunteers, provided training, and set up a complex network of distribution centers. Their use of local people allowed them to secure virtually unprecedented cooperation from rebel fighters, and though the work is far from done (especially in the regime-controlled areas of the country), about 1.4 million children have been vaccinated since the start of the year.

Map from the, October 2013

Map from the, October 2013

While the complex ecosystem of actors and politics in Syria is definitely unique, there are real lessons to be learned here for the development community. In fact, this sort of collaboration is something that Professor Closser has been calling for in her research for years. In her book, “Chasing Polio in Pakistan,” she argues that, if what has becomes the world’s largest eradication effort in history is to succeed, we need to replace top-down, centralized command chains with partnerships, and push governments to truly back small-scale, local agencies and health workers. 

In Pakistan, despite the efforts of tens of thousands of health workers, political violence and lack of substantial government support have stymied the push for eradication. Unlike in Syria, immunizers in Pakistan have not only repeatedly struggled to gain access to areas of the country controlled by rebel groups, but have also been the target of fatal attacks themselves — with more than 30 deaths in the last two years. Militants remain deeply suspicious of the vaccination campaigns, believing that they are a cover for spies or western plot to sterilize Muslim children, and some local leaders have halted efforts altogether.

Concerns are mounting about the opportunities for increased transmission as the refugee crisis along the border with Afghanistan continues to grow. According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Pakistan will remain unable to interrupt transmission without “radical change” in the northwest of the country. The WHO also recently named Peshawar as the “largest reservoir of endemic polio virus in the world,” calling for full political commitment and support for the vaccination teams.

Map from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative 

Map from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative 

So, while the development world has continued to call on governments and international aid organizations to step up efforts — with the WHO Director-General declaring polio a public health emergency of international concern this past May — we were happy to see that they have also begun to reach out to the GIS community.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative will be front and center at the Esri User Conference next month. Dr. Vincent Seaman, senior program officer for the Polio Country Support Team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Dr. Bruce Aylward, assistant director-general for the WHO’s Polio and Emergencies cluster, will speak about their work at the conference’s Opening Session to an estimated audience of 16,000.

Among the topics they are expected to cover is the important role maps have played in identifying areas of greatest need and helping target resources. As former mappers on a Gates-funded project, we are especially interested to hear what Dr. Seaman will share on how the foundation’s polio program is currently using maps and spatial analysis in high-risk areas to both enhance and assess effectiveness.

This is a map that we made for Svea Closser's research study. More maps here, in the supplementary data section of her recently published article.

This is a map that we made for Svea Closser's research study. More maps here, in the supplementary data section of her recently published article.

So many of the obstacles faced by decision-makers in the fight against polio are inherently spatial problems. Like many of the organizations we work with, success is dependent on the decentralized, door-to-door efforts of community health workers and local managers. Already complex logistics are made more challenging by poor infrastructure and refrigerated vaccines. And “high risk” or “target population” can be defined not only by age, but also by a number of demographic and geographic factors. Maps have a key role to play in facilitating this process, and we hope to see this conversation become an increasingly central one in the context of eradication. 

The Global Refugee Crisis's view of the Dadaab Refugee Camp from above's view of the Dadaab Refugee Camp from above

According to an article published yesterday on the BBC, the number of people living as refugees of war or persecution reached historic heights in 2013. A global total approaching 51.2 million people has not been seen since the last World War, and rose by more than 6 million in the last year alone. The UN report helps put this number in perspective: it is equivalent to the entire population of countries like Colombia, Spain, or South Africa.

Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that, for many of these people, their refugee status is becoming permanent, with over 6.3 million refugees in the world considered to be living in protracted situations. 

Burma’s Karen minority have lived in camps on the Thai border for more than 20 years, and for many Somali’s in Kenya’s Dadaab camp, there is little hope of returning home any time in the foreseeable future. Afghanis still account for the world’s largest population of refuges: more than 2.5 million.  And these numbers don’t even include the world’s 33.3 million internally displaced people, 6.5 million of which live in Syria alone.

The article also points out that, although the total number of refugees in the world has been increasing, the percentage of those populations that we host in the developed world has actually decreased. A decade ago, wealthy nations hosted 30% of refugees seeking asylum. Today, developed countries care for just 14%, leaving developing nations to take on the remaining 86% of the global refugee burden. Displacement is an international problem with major economic and security implications, and we can't expect developing countries to shoulder the costs alone.

All alone, these massive numbers can be difficult to comprehend, but luckily there are a number of awesome resources out there to help break down this crisis. As geographers, we are - surprise! - partial to maps. The Refugee Project is a fantastic interactive tool, showing the movement of the world’s refugees from 1975 – 2012. Not only can you see global trends in where refugees came from and where they sought asylum each year, you can also jump down to a national scale and visualize these movements in terms of total population or percent of population. Additionally, the project provides brief descriptions of all the major refugee crises over the past four decades, with links to more information and their sources.   

For a slightly different, more critical look at refugee camps and some of the inherent problems with their design, planning, and architecture, check out Mitchell Sipus’ blog “Humanitarian Space.” He makes some great points about the deep paradoxes of these spaces, and gets us thinking about the types of maps that could help decision-makers and program implementers deliver health services in this difficult context. 

Maps + Digital Journalism

"How the Recession Reshaped the Economy, in 255 Charts"

"How the Recession Reshaped the Economy, in 255 Charts"

Over the last few days, we’ve been thinking a lot about how news organizations can most effectively integrate web maps into feature articles or investigative reports. There are millions of amazing examples out there of dynamic graphics or data visualizations bringing news stories to life — sometimes even supplanting the text itself. In fact, last week, featured this on its front page.

But when it comes to maps, it gets harder to find truly well incorporated web graphics. Many times you have either relatively static reference maps or over-saturated dynamic tools that make it difficult to actually look at a distinct set of variables in relation to each other — which is, in its essence, what makes maps so powerful. 

"Indian State Elections," BBC

"Indian State Elections," BBC

"South America Programs," World Bank

"South America Programs," World Bank

You can see the New York Times struggling with this exact issue in its recent coverage of Ukraine. “Ukraine Crisis in Maps” is a sort of comprehensive, visual summary of the developments in the continuing conflict over Crimea. It’s a chronological series of static maps accompanied by brief paragraphs of text and links to the full-length articles that originally covered the events. And while the maps themselves definitely do a good job providing context and visualizing factors such as troop moment or the locations of violent clashes, they still suffer from this same lack of integration.

"Ukraine Crisis in Maps — A visual guide to the continuing conflict over Crimea and the country's east"

"Ukraine Crisis in Maps — A visual guide to the continuing conflict over Crimea and the country's east"

There are, of course, exceptions to make every rule. Groups like MapBox and Stamen have been leading the charge for more beautiful interactive maps for years now.  And it seems like every week their blogs announce new, amazing features. (Post about some of those exciting developments to come…)

Other groups and tools are starting to emerge. Just last week we came across StoryMap JS. StoryMap JS is a free web-mapping tool out of Northwestern University’s Knight Lab, built to help the user “highlight the locations of a series of events.” It is built using Leaflet, with map tiles by Stamen and data from Open Street Maps. And though it is still in beta, it has already been featured on Al Jazeera America and The Times.

"Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay Highlights"

"Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay Highlights"

What’s cool about StoryMap JS is that though you can embed images and videos directly into the map, it also allows you to lay both text and pictures over/next to the map without having to build them into the map itself. So, if you wanted to, you could hypothetically show both a static, zoomed-in thematic map and a dynamic locator map at the same time. Ideally, you could investigate a pattern on a small scale without losing the context of the larger one.

The fact is, this arena of both web mapping and digital as a medium for maps is still pretty new. And it’s clearly one with a ton of room for innovation. As a team, we are not only enjoying watching it develop, but are also excited by how the lessons learned in digital journalism can be applied to the field of public health reporting.

We love hearing about new projects, tools, and perspectives, so please share your thoughts and examples with us!   

Broad Street Maps in 6 Minutes

As promised: our Demo Day pitch. 

In an effort to let the video do the talking, all we will add is a big thanks to all of those who helped us craft our story — your feedback was invaluable!

Take it away, ladies... 

Since this is far from the last time that Broad Street Maps will pitch its story — whether it is on stage or in the elevator — we'd love to hear your thoughts. Shoot us an email, find us on Facebook, or just comment below! 

Fledge Is Finished...

And we can’t quite believe it. It has been an amazing, action-packed ten weeks, and Broad Street Maps has come a long way.  

Over the last two and a half months, an amazing group of mentors and colleagues pushed us to question every assumption we had ever made about our business, to embark on true customer development, and to fully articulate what it is that makes up our “special sauce.”

We spent hours discussing our unique added value, covering whiteboard after whiteboard with iterations of our business model canvas, and using up more post-its than we feel environmentally comfortable sharing publicly.

 And, ten weeks later, we are happy to report that we have reached some pretty exciting milestones.  

Some highlights: 

  • We officially incorporated as a for-profit social enterprise in the state of Washington

  • We committed to ten new projects with incredible clients working across Tanzania, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and India (to name a few) 

  •  We entered into two technical partnerships with organizations, who are helping us move toward productizing our work

  • And we delivered a final Demo Day pitch to a room of 200 interested supporters and investors -- video coming soon!

What’s next for Broad Street Maps?

Well, first, we’re staying in Seattle! We have been wooed by the beautiful Pacific Northwest and the fantastic communities of entrepreneurs, tech experts, geographers, and health professionals we have been lucky enough to meet over the last two plus months. 

And we’re happy to announce that we are now members of WeWork. Last week we moved into an office in their brand new South Lake Union building, and we’re already feeling reenergized. As we start thinking more and more about building out more dynamic mapping projects and developing our own platform, we are eager to explore the work being done and resources that exist within their network of entrepreneurs and creators.

But, mostly, we are excited to dive into the projects we have lined up for this summer and focus on the work of making maps. Stay tuned for updates and features on these partnerships as they progress.

An enormous thank you to Fledge, all of the mentors, new friends, supporters, and enthusiasts we have met since our arrival in Seattle. We look forward to continuing to pick your brains and share our successes with you!

World Malaria Day

Today is World Malaria Day! So, at Broad Street Maps, we wanted to take a moment to share a little bit about the disease that continues to infect and kill far too many people around the world — especially in the places where many of our partners work. As data people, we know that a lot of the enormous numbers that are thrown out to talk about global disease burden are hard to truly understand. What does 300-500 million clinical cases of malaria a year mean? Over 650,000 deaths? $12 billion in yearly economic losses to Africa? 

While no statistics can ever truly make human loss feel real, below are three infographics that we think harness visuals to present a pretty good lay of the land. They're a good place to start if you're looking to learn a little bit about what malaria actually is, its reach, and how you can treat it. (If you've got some extra free time, we recommend checking out the last one. Made by a new, local Seattle data viz crush, the incredibly comprehensive infographic came out of a University of Washington research project.)  

But beyond the numbers, here are three facts we think matter most: Malaria is preventable. Malaria is treatable. And there are incredible people working everyday — in vaccine trials and in their local communities — to make the disease a thing of the past. 

To learn more about a few of these impressive people and efforts check out The Gates Foundation's blog, "Impatient Optimists" and their organization-wide strategic plan. And for some interesting insights and lessons learned from the fight, take a look at the article published  today in The Guardian by the Malaria Consortium. 

How Healthy is your community?

Last week one of our Fledge mentors showed us this article published this past December in the Seattle Times. Earlier that month, more than 100 advocates and experts from across health and community development sectors convened to raise awareness about the challenges that face King County. And guess what they had in their presentation slides? Maps!

These maps are yet another fascinating piece of the conversation on place-based health outcomes. A conversation we are excited to say is happening more and more at home in the United States. Want to see how your state or county stacks up? Check out these links below:


Take a look the healthiest and least healthy places in America.

Want to know what percentage of registered voters in your state voted? Or what percentage of 4th graders have reached proficient reading levels? Here’s an awesome interactive map that lets you see that and so much more.

Half of those under 65 without insurance live in just 116 of the nation’s 3,143 counties. Is one of them yours?


And just in case you missed it — one of our favorite health-related videos on the internet right now. The Daily Show reports on third world health Knoxville. 


Fledge: Day 12

Broad Street Maps is a company inspired by the belief that maps have the ability to unlock enormous potential within the public health community. Using maps as tools for improving health will always be our core mission, but we're questioning what the most effective and efficient way of doing that really is. Even though we're only 12 days in, Fledge has already been a critical turning point for us. We are taking full advantage of the time to flesh out our ideas, have conversations with mentors, and explore the various resources that the program gives us access to. Here's what we've been up to:


Our beautiful new office is full of creative, determined people doing inspiring work. With over 600 active members, Seattle's impactHUB has been an ideal community for us to tap into here. Every day, we meet people that encourage us, challenge us, or connect us with a new mentor.


the "fledglings"

We are 1 of 6 groups invited to participate in the Fledge program. None of the other 5 groups are focused specifically on health, but they all have a social mission. Coincidentally, 3 of them work in Tanzania. They're all awesome. Check them out:

Karibu Solar – Affordable modular solar “business in a box” for African entrepreneurs who sell solar daily at the price of kerosene.

Activate Hub - Allows you to discover events, organizations and people impacting your community.

Distributed Energy Management - Helps business owners save money in utility bills, via a unique budgeting strategy system.

EA Fruits Farm – Bringing the best-practices of modern fruit and vegetable farming to Tanzania.

Juabar Design – Creating profitable energy franchises by investing in Tanzanian entrepreneurs (Juapreneurs) to bring solar recharging kiosks to their communities.

Fledglings during our weekly "problem lunch," where people can bring an issue that they want help working through.

Fledglings during our weekly "problem lunch," where people can bring an issue that they want help working through.


Our white board and post-it notes have become our best friends over the past 2 weeks. Re-thinking all of our assumptions, laying out all of our questions, mapping systems, following a single piece of data through various different project models, brainstorming products, sketching out business models, and thinking of various customer discovery strategies... these are just a few of the many exercises we've been working on.

Mentor Meetings

A big aspect of Fledge is facilitating meetings with mentors, investors, partners, and potential customers. So far, we've had more than 15 meetings with different mentors! Lawyers, designers, tech people, product development experts, compensation specialists, business strategists, finance pros... just to name a few. These meetings have been incredibly helpful in terms of talking through some of our ideas, getting feedback, poking holes in our model, and thinking up new strategies.

Island Wood

Last Thursday, we took a field trip! Once a month, the Bainbridge Graduate Institute program (which is located at the impactHUB) goes out to Bainbridge Island for a weekend retreat at Island Wood. The MBA program in social business is conducted mostly online, except for these monthly 'intensives.' We were invited to come out for the day and attend the entrepreneur seminar. The second-year students break into teams, come up with a business idea, and work on it for the whole year. We watched their customer pitches, and then the whole audience pretended to be their customers and ask a series of hard questions before 'breaking character' and giving general feedback on the presentation. It was incredibly useful and cool. We also got to spend time exploring some of Island Wood's extensive, sunny, trails, and enjoy the ferry rides with our fellow Fledglings!


Every day continues to bring challenges, victories, and progress! 7.5 more weeks to go... 


Broad Street Maps is in Seattle! 

We were recently accepted to an accelerator program called Fledge, a "conscious company accelerator" that helps socially-conscious groups grow their businesses. We're so excited to have this opportunity to devote 10 solid weeks to re-evaluating all the assumptions we've made so far, and making lots of progress. The program only started about 24 hours ago, and we already feel like we've got great forward momentum and lots of new ideas. 

Also, we're thrilled to have fellow geographer and friend from Middlebury, Isabel Shaw, joining our team out here! We couldn't be more grateful to have a third (brilliant!) brain and fresh perspective as we launch into this new phase. 

Over the next 3 months, we'll try to update our blog more frequently with new ideas, progress reports, pictures, and adventure reports from this amazing city...


GlobeMed + Broad Street Maps

GlobeMed is featuring Broad Street Maps as part of its holiday giving campaign this year! Our connection with GlobeMed helped facilitate our first project in Rwanda last summer, and we're thrilled to be sharing our story. 

Read about it here:

Part 1: Because of GlobeMed

Part 2: Partnership in Action

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