About GRID3

GRID3 works with countries in sub-Saharan Africa to generate, validate, and use core spatial datasets on population, settlements, subnational boundaries, and crucial infrastructure. We train and support stakeholders who use this information for analytics and decision-making, and work closely with local governments to improve national ownership and sustainability of the data.

We blend official data with data generated by novel approaches; our solutions draw on advanced data science and technology, participatory mapping, satellite imagery, and other innovations. GRID3 combines the expertise of leading technical partners to design pragmatic and responsive geospatial solutions that address the priority needs of each country.

Our work facilitates data-driven interventions that reach communities that need them the most. GRID3 solutions are valuable across multiple development sectors, from education to infrastructure. Our current focus is improving health interventions—particularly immunization coverage and malaria control—in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Nigeria.

Our history

GRID3 was founded in 2017 to help governments in sub-Saharan Africa make better use of spatial data in healthcare, education, and other sectors. The initial four partner organizations—the Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University, the Flowminder Foundation, the United Nations Population Fund, and WorldPop at the University of Southampton—helped develop multi-agency work plans that mainstreamed new data and data methodologies that supported the objectives of our government partners.

In our first five years, we worked with over 20 sub-Saharan African governments on a wide variety of development projects, including large response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic. GRID3 received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the United Nations Children’s Fund; and the World Health Organization.

We continue to learn from these experiences to refine our approach. As part of our ongoing evolution, GRID3 transitioned from being managed by Columbia University to operating as an independent non-profit organization in 2022. We are basing a greater portion of staff in DRC and Nigeria, allowing us to deepen national-level engagement. These changes are aimed at finding the most impactful ways to meet the needs of our government partners and donors.

Our partners

The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) is a research center within the Columbia Climate School. Its mission is to provide access to and enhance the use of information worldwide, advancing understanding of human interactions in the environment and serving the needs of science and public and private decision making. Under GRID3, CIESIN leads initiatives around settlement, boundary, and infrastructure mapping.

WorldPop research programme, based at the University of Southampton, is a multi-sectoral team of researchers, technicians, and project specialists that produces data on population distributions and characteristics at high spatial resolution. WorldPop leads population modelling within GRID3.

Our Board

  • Vincent Seaman Vincent Seaman
  • Sonia Ehrlich Sachs Sonia Ehrlich Sachs

Vince Seaman currently works at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington, where he is a Senior Program Officer for the Global Development Polio team. In that role, he supports polio eradication efforts and the use of geospatial and other data technologies for Gates Foundation projects worldwide. Prior to joining the Foundation, Dr. Seaman spent 7 years at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and was detailed to Nigeria for three years as a secondee to the World Health Organization, supporting polio and other vaccine-preventable disease programs.

Vince completed his MS and PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of California, Davis in 2006, after spending 15 years practicing as a licensed pharmacist and 8 years as a public high school science teacher in California.

Sonia Ehrlich Sachs, MD, MPH is a pediatrician, an endocrinologist and public health specialist. She received a BA from Harvard University, an MD from the University of Maryland Medical School, and an MPH from Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Sachs practiced medicine for 20 years, 14 of which were at Harvard University Health Services in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At the Earth Institute, Columbia University, since 2005 she has led the design and implementation of low-cost primary health systems in low-income rural Africa and India. Her focus is on systems delivery, primarily for improvement of maternal and child health, at local and national scales. Sachs coordinated the health sector of the Millennium Villages Project, overseeing all health-related interventions and research. The Millennium Villages Project, in ten countries in sub-Saharan Africa, was an integrated rural development initiative, designed as a proof of concept, helping poor rural communities accelerate reaching the Millennium Development Goals, using a science-based, community led approach of integrated interventions that increase food production, increase access to health care, education, water, infrastructure and business development. Dr. Sachs was involved in the EI health team advisory to Haiti, India and Nigeria. She is the Director of the One Million CHW Campaign advocating for professionalised Community Health Workers, a cadre that is paid, supervised and supported by use of information communication technology. Sachs and her team currently advise the government of Ghana on the national scale up of Community Health Workers, including the national scale up of mHealth and Telemedicine.

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