BEQUAL Project, Laos

Improving and building schools across Laos

The Basic Education Quality and Access in Laos program is an Australian Aid project working towards improving children’s basic primary education, especially for the poor and marginalised, across 65 educationally disadvantaged districts.

In November 2015, the BEQUAL project team deployed Cosmos, Tetra Tech’s mobile app for field data collection and geospatial analysis. The app, supplied in Lao, enables field staff to cost-effectively and efficiently geotag and date photographs and reports from remote school sites and seamlessly synchronise the information to a secure cloud database.

Getting the job done efficiently

In just 25 days a team of 18 infrastructure technical supervisors visited 406 schools spread over an area from the Chinese border in the north to the Cambodian and Vietnamese borders in the south and captured 21,443 “before” photographs of school areas needing repair.

The collected data and photographs are visualised on an easy-to-use interactive portal and are immediately available for analysis, in “real-time” as they are updated from the field.

The mapping platform enables a birds-eye view of the schools being surveyed, with a zoom feature to confirm and validate individual locations.

As Cosmos enables the transfer of high-quality images, the project team can zoom into individual photographs to assess and review individual structural items.

A big benefit of the Cosmos system is data security. Data collected about development is often sensitive – whether it concerns peoples’ identities, behaviours, activities or locations – so it is crucial it does not fall into the wrong hands, not least because it’s often data about some of the globe’s most vulnerable people.” Andrew Whillas, BEQUAL Infrastructure Programme Manager.

Delivering value

Being able to visualise and review all the data and imagery collated by Cosmos has enabled the programme stakeholders to make informed decisions about requirements for Laos’s schools in very remote areas. As of March 2018, construction was underway at some 85 schools with another 89 schools to start in June.

Some schools are harder to reach…