Geo-interview with Charity Mbaka

Charity Mbaka
Charity Mbaka is currently a student at JKUAT taking GIS. Charity is actively learning GIS programming especially WebGIS technologies. She's also an FX (special effects) artist for Mekan Games @MekanGames a local game development startup, founded by a team of students at JKUAT. Charity enjoys music (vocals and the trumpet) and food. @charity_mbaka

Qn: What are some of the exciting projects you have worked on? What are you working on now?

Ans: Working on Zunguka was a great opportunity for me. Zunguka is a navigation and information guide for institutions, taking JKUAT as a case study. This is purely a GIS System that we developed together with my two other friends and it won the JKUAT TEch Expo 2016 with enormous support.
I have also worked on Craving Carrots, a video game where the player protects a stash of carrots from ninjas sent to steal them. The game can be found on Google Play Store.
I am currently working on a system to map out social surveys for companies that carry out market research for other companies.
I’m also developing special effects for a game to be released in mid-2017.

Qn: If you look at the flavor of spatial opportunities and projects in around the region, what do you think of the Geospatial industry in East Africa?

Ans: The industry has grown rapidly, from a little known field 5 years ago, we now have hundreds of GIS developers, coming up with mind blowing ideas. Companies are now integrating geospatial information into other systems to enable them make smarter decisions. A living example is how ILRI has been able to integrate GIS into it’s programs and projects for instance Livestock herd simulation GIS tools and economic models. I believe better application of these geographic oriented analysis and modelling boosted their research on livestock.

GIS is a real solution that will boost overall social and economic development in the region.

Qn: A particular experience I want you to tell us a little bit about. Your time at CETRAD, how did you get the opportunity, and how was the experience?

Ans: After a major disappointment then, when I lost the opportunity for a Civil Engineering programme in favour of Geomatic Engineering and GIS, an internship prospects at CETRAD honestly was not an excitement. Through my father Prof. Gilbert Nduru who also has massive interest in GIS, this chance and the organization was a turning point for me. It showed me the sides to GIS I hadn’t seen in class, the opportunity to interact with GIS analysts in their environment taught me a lot. I got acquainted with ArcGIS software for the first time, learned basic C++, and decided of all the new friends I made GIS was the best one.

Qn: Now, you’re also a game developer. How does your spatial knowledge contribute in curation of game content?

Ans: GIS is still finding its footing in the gaming industry. Currently there are games like PokémonGo that have integrated the use of maps, or Call of Duty that uses spatial information based on real events, (every soldier you shoot down, fall at that exact same place, at that exact same time in the real world).

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You can see other AR Games here
Personally, I together with the team, endeavor to bring an Augmented Reality game simulating real places in various different states (e.g Nairobi in case the evil alien warlords took over the city), one could direct their camera at say KICC and app simulates an environment on their screen upon which they play on.. not only have we used spatial content but we have created an out of this world experience for the player.

Qn: What’s most exciting for you in the Geospatial profession currently?

Ans: 3D mapping. It’s particularly exciting for me to know that I have the ability and the opportunity to recreate accurate virtual environments to enable people navigate buildings, streets, forest trails. With GIS we have been able to grab the reigns from natures hands and find our way to places we never would without GIS.

Qn: What do you do for fun that you use your Geospatial knowledge?
Ans: Coming up with new ideas for games where we can apply spatial content, going to very new places with a full battery, data bundles, Google maps and running shoes for some parts of town.

Qn: What is your message to other students out there?
Ans: I would encourage them to pile onto the band wagon despite whatever field they are in because GIS is about as versatile as anything you could imagine. It’s also a very powerful tool that could propel them to greater heights with their careers.

To the ladies also, I’d like to encourage them to take up programming, because the compilers and terminals know no gender.

Qn. This is a template question:

ArcGIS or QGIS? QGIS

Leaflet JS or Openlayers? leafletJS