Kelvin Mwenda: “Professional GIS Software can be termed as ‘full-featured’ system”

About Kelvin Mwenda Mugambi

Kelvin Mugambi
As an undergraduate studying BSc Environmental Studies (Community Development) in Kenyatta University Kelvin came across GIS as one of the courses. Having a keen interest in natural resource management for community development, well GIS seemed like the icing on the cake. Three years down the line Kelvin is now the Business Development Executive at ESRI Eastern Africa. As a strong believer in conserving the environment for the future generation and he has over the years involved himself in various activities that champion this course such as planting tree and advocating for environmental considerations in all development projects.Kelvin loves traveling and meeting people from different cultures in his free time. We would just hope he uses map tools to schedule and track these expeditions.

So how did you get into GIS?

During my 3rd Year industrial attachment period, I got an opportunity to serve as a GIS Analyst in the Kenya Forest Mapping and Survey Unit. It was during this 3 month period that my interest in GIS grew as I got to put GIS into practical use. Some of responsibilities that I was tasked with included: preparation of new and revised forest management maps, mapping of illegally occupied forest areas and encroachments and mapping of sites for nature based enterprises. One of the achievements during this period was that I got to actively engage in the Kiptuget Participatory Forest Management Plan.

Later on during my fourth year practicum under the keen supervision of Prof. Simon Onywere, I undertook a research on Application of GIS technology to health management systems for improved patient admission in major hospitals: case of Kenyatta national hospital. This then got me the opportunity to present my research during the 2nd Esri Eastern Africa Education GIS User Conference. This presentation is what got me an opportunity to intern at Esri Eastern Africa, where I have now served under different capacities in providing working Geospatial solutions to the natural resource industry.

How was life at KU for the School of Environmental studies with the beautiful blessing of ArcGIS Licenses for students from the Esri 100 African University’s programme?

Kenyatta University is the first Kenyan University and indeed the first African University to receive and start implementing the use of Esri 100 license under the African University programme. This was indeed a true blessing for not just the School of Environmental studies but also the entire KU fraternity. Knowledge in GIS and Remote Sensing is now a reality in KU. More students and staff across different faculties are learning its applications and now have a better appreciation and understanding of the world and the development processes therein through visualizing data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, statistics, reports, and charts.

What encompasses you daily duties at Esri EA?

As a business development executive I am tasked with the job of helping Esri EA business grow through identifying new sales leads, pitching ArcGIS products and/or services and maintaining fruitful relationships with existing customers. Also part of my role includes proposing and showcasing working GIS solutions that add value to organizations whilst helping them grow, thrive, and leverage the ArcGIS Platform.

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You’ve interacted with a number of GIS consumers from your client’s base, how would you rate the level of awareness among them?

In my opinion the level of awareness in the use of GIS is growing at a rapid pace matching the new developments in the ArcGIS platform. This has been evident from the numerous customer request we get on assisting them in coming up with various GIS information products using the ArcGIS online and/or Portal for ArcGIS and the curiosity of new releases of ArcGIS versions as well as their corresponding functionalities and capabilities. As a matter of fact, we also have interacted with clients who have shown interest in integrating GIS with their existing ERPs.

What is the biggest challenge in the Kenya Geospatial industry if you were asked? What do you think we can do about it?

I know where this question is heading to …… “Pricing”. Professional GIS software’s are expensive to buy and maintain. The term ‘professional’ relates to the full-featured nature of this category of software with distinctive features of real time data collection and editing, database administration, advanced geoprocessing and analysis.  This has been among the biggest challenge in many organizations in Kenya who have interest in implementing GIS but shun away once we provide them with the pricing.

Me: Hehehe…”professional”==”full-featured”…! You realize the OpenGIS Community have seen this clause somewhere, and there’s going to be a melt down. It would be advisable you keep some distance  for a while.

Good news is that, Esri EA cares and values the interests of all its customers who have interest in implementing GIS. To support this Esri EA provides various pricing models in bid to making the ArcGIS platform available to all organizations including but not limited to non-profit, non- commercial bona-fide research institutes and accredited Universities and Colleges.

My encouragement to all interested organizations whose GIS passion are limitless, but their resources may not be, to reach out Esri EA customer care who will get back to them with the best fit GIS solution that matches not only their GIS requirements but also their budget.

Tell the industry something as a parting shot. Till we hear from you again!

“GIS for Everyone”.