UI to train 10,000 new geospatial experts- Official

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By Ibukun Emiola

The University of Ibadan has set a target to train 10,000 new researchers and students on the use of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) geospatial tools.

Mr Ahmed  Olanrewaju, Principal Systems Analyst, Management Information System Unit, University of Ibadan, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan on Thursday.

Olanrewaju said the plan was to explore the benefits of adopting ESRI technology to enable students and research communities have more access to spatial technological tools for research.

According to him, it is also to help in utilising its efficient data repository for information archiving Technology.

Olanrewaju said that since the University of Ibadan received the technology grant from the ESRI in 2014, it had utilised it to optimise research and enhance teaching.

“The university has radically migrated from traditional data collection and analysis processes to dynamic technology-driven research processes,’’ he said.

According to him, the benefit of adopting ESRI technology is enormous because UI students and research communities now have access to spatial technological tools for research and it utilises its efficient data repository for information archiving.

“This means that people who want to build on previous research; once they have the necessary approval, can access the required data sets and add to the knowledge pool.

“This is a very big one for the university as there would be no need to duplicate effort and time will not be wasted generating previously captured information,” he said.

He further stated that even non-science-based faculties of education and others have been adopting the use of technology for location-based data collection and analysis.

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Olanrewaju stated that the university had been able to increase the number of students and researchers who now use location-based digital surveys compared to what was obtained in the past.

He said a major step taken by the university was to innovatively remove the problems students face in accessing software licenses.

Olanrewaju added that technology support services were now provided for those who had technical issues during working hours.

“For the first time, simultaneously, research in multiple locations is now coordinated, and data is collected and archived seamlessly. Through the use of this technology, researchers now have the capacity to even collect location-specific audio data.”

“Another major progress recorded is that Artificial Intelligence (AI) student programmers now use ESRI tools with their python knowledge to access special geo-spatial-data-sets for machine learning,” Olanrewaju said.

According to him, the university has set a target of training 10,000 new researchers and students to adopt the use of the ESRI geospatial tools. Presently, about 5,000 are using the technology, an improvement from 3,800 users in the last year.

He said the institution had been working on a project that will collect data sets from the 774 local government areas in Nigeria.

“At the end of the day, over 15,000 records will be accessed from respondents, which will be the first large-scale data collection in UI using ESRI tools,” he said.

Olanrewaju also said there was a need to enact policies for the adoption of location based technology research in Nigeria; for instance, researchers must collect and work with precise location-based data.

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“Once students signup for research work, the University of Ibadan can now provide technology tools and platforms for use just as is obtainable in other universities around the world.

“Also, the university can do many things within the same ecosystem to harmonise research and provide access for use by government, industries, and stakeholders for the development of the country.

“Universities do not have to be maintaining several software to run their e-learning. ESRI technology is capable of supporting multidimensional e-learning for the tertiary institutions,” he said.

Some of the students who spoke on the use of the technology, Abiodun Awokoya from the Faculty of Arts, Thomas Adesina and Oluwadamilare Akindipe said that it had contributed immensely to their research work because ArcGIS has lots of tools and an easy user interface coupled with lots of documentation and an active community for support. (NAN)

Edited by Isaac Aregbesola

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