It is that time of year again where we take stock, look back at the year that has passed, and begin to look towards the coming 12 months. At VOZ we pride ourselves on working in a reflective manner all year round but still we wanted to end what has been a fantastic year for VOZ by sharing some of the highlights of 2014.

The beginnings of VOZ have been well documented, born from an idea in 2012 which was then tested and developed in Colombia throughout 2013. However, it was not until the beginning of 2014 that the ball really began to roll. In February of this year Doug produced his research paper, Gold Power Protest, which detailed the research carried out in Colombia that led to the concept and development of VOZ. The following few months saw a lot of behind the scenes work with various early versions of our app on limited release for user testing.

2014 has seen the VOZ interface change greatly as we respond to user feedback. We now have a robust, easy to use and responsive interface which will continue to evolve along with the needs of our users

 

Momentum gathered as we prepared to present VOZ at the ESRI User Conference in San Diego in July. As part of this build up we began working with Friends of the Earth EWNI to send tablet computers to Paraguay to enable organisations there to access VOZ. We also worked again with our friends in Colombia who began mapping their community in preparation for a poster presentation in San Diego.

The conference went well, VOZ’s poster was well received in the Map Gallery, and the presentation given generated lots of interest and ideas regarding VOZ’s future.

A few weeks after returning from the USA we launched a beta version of VOZ to the public. August was spent testing many of VOZ’s features with live users. We also took the opportunity to add lots of ideas that had been gathered from users. These included being able to add success stories, print reports and imbed videos.

In September we were delighted to have made the short list for the Digital Creativity for Social Good Award, a great boost just before we went live to the world in mid-September.

The rest of the year was spent ensuring that everything on the site is working robustly and as it should and beginning the process of adding more users. We have kept things slow so far building our capacity slowly to ensure that everything works just right, but as we look towards 2015 our main focus will be working on increasing our user base.

Doug collects

Doug collects the ‘Best Paper in Conference’ award from Prof. Iain Stewart at the AGI GeoCom for his presentation ‘Securing human rights with PGIS’ which was based on work carried out during the establishment of VOZ

The autumn season also saw us promoting and discussing VOZ at many events. In November we headed to Brussels to share VOZ at the Aid Expo, and later that same week Doug presented the VOZ research paper ‘Securing human rights through PGIS’ at the AGI GeoCom event, generating huge interest and winning the best paper in conference award! This also resulted in VOZ being mentioned in the pages of GIS Professional’s December issue. Late November saw the VOZ team descended on the Latin America Conference in London where we presented on mining issues in El Salvador, with help from our friends at MUFRAS 32. We also got to meet up with our good friends from ENCA who were kind enough to lend us a corner of their stand from which to promote VOZ.

Most recently, December also saw the publication of a an article about VOZ in the Environmental Network for Central America news bulletin, reflecting on how VOZ started long ago on a cold snowy morning in Toronto.

It has been a lot of hard work throughout 2014, and it has taken the dedication of many people to get us here, but 2014 has been an incredible year for VOZ. And really, we are only just beginning! We will be sharing with you are plans for 2015 in our next bulletin, but for now it leaves us to say thank you for being on the journey with us, and Happy New Year!