1: How did you end up getting a work placement with 510?
After studying medicine I realized that working within a hospital, or doctors practice is a honorable job although personally, it was not for me. Next to global healthcare issues, I saw multiple other crises occur: climate change being the driver behind a lot of them. After finalizing my bachelors in environmental engineering I decided that GIS is a powerful tool to be put into use to detect, report on, and convince policy makers globally on earth- and humanity related events. Within the GIS masters (GIMA) I was enrolled in, I saw the incredible potential of GIS within humanitarian applications; starting with a project on tenure ship rights for informal settlements using remotely sensed data. I got interested in the ‘Missing Maps’ project through some contacts at Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and through them I got into contact with Maarten van der Veen, initiator of 510. There were several projects that I could be involved in as a graduate student, however the project in Malawi (the country I’d spent my childhood in) appealed to me the most. After finalizing my thesis at 510 I continued with my internship working at the Malawi Red Cross Society for 3 months to assess the data capacity of the National Society and organize the initial phases of the Data4SDG project to build a data collaborative within Malawi and thereby co-hosting an inception workshop with the National Statistics Office (NSO).
2: Did you see yourself working at 510 after you graduated?
The experience of working in an international environment hugely appealed to me – I did ask myself the question if I would keep up to date on the latest technical developments in GIS when I got the opportunity to work at 510 – Netherlands Red Cross. The answer is yes, there are a lot of opportunities to develop new skills; GIS in international assistance and programs come with their own set of challenges and the different skillsets of the team of professionals, graduates, and volunteers provide for a lot of interdisciplinary discussions. All these aspects combined make 510 an ideal working environment for me – especially with the prospect of working (partly) in the field and as a (remote) Surge Information Management Support (SIMS) in natural/health crises around the globe.
3: Where do you see 510 in 5 years?
The next 5 years 510 will develop with more volunteers / professionals working in the different partner national societies of the Netherlands Red Cross. Every partner will have a substantial amount of data capacity. Subsequently, two other ‘510-like’ initiatives have shown to be successful in e.g. Australia and Denmark.