Become a high-skilled geospatial professional

Using spatial information and technology to solve health-related problems

Hassan Oladapo (Nigeria)

In my home country (Nigeria) there aren’t a lot of private companies that are purely GIS related. I felt that this was an opportunity for me to delve into GIS and look into ways to solve many associated issues.

Hassan Oladapo (Nigeria)

Solving problems in natural resource management

“While I was pursuing my bachelor’s degree at the University of Lagos in my home country (Nigeria), I developed a keen interest in geospatial information systems. For example, we applied spatial analyses to map out university areas vulnerable to flooding: we calculated that a certain volume of rainfall could make a particular area susceptible to flooding and based on that, we made recommendations to prevent it.

In Nigeria, but also in Africa as a whole, there is a huge gap between geo-analytics and natural resource management challenges. Thousands of people die of malaria in Nigeria, and I wanted to learn how to use geo-analytics to examine environmental factors, among others. I felt that ITC was the best institution that specialised in understanding cutting-edge technologies of geo-information science and earth observation that would give me an edge in my endeavour.

Deepening research skills to resolve global health issues

What I particularly liked in the master’s programme was that I expanded my knowledge of Python, R, JavaScript and CSS and used them for various applications. For example, I used Python to extract data to look into the air quality in Eindhoven.

During my master’s, I became especially interested in geo-health: how can I use spatial information and technology to solve health-related problems such as malaria? When I was considering a topic for my thesis, I wanted to do research that would contribute to a global health-related challenge. This coincided with the first COVID-19 lockdown in the Netherlands, so I came up with a unique research topic: “Analysis of SARS-CoV-2 virus in wastewater and its association with other epidemiological indicators.”

I showed connections between the coronavirus concentration in wastewater and other epidemiological indicators such as positive cases, hospital admissions and mortality and described these relationships in space and time. Based on my findings, I could recommend to policymakers that coronavirus concentration in wastewater can be a sufficient and additional indicator to measure the trend of the virus. In short, the wastewater samples from different parts of the Netherlands show that in most municipalities, we will observe an increase in the virus in wastewater before an increase in positive cases.

In the future, I want to do more research focused on solving global health problems. Before doing this master’s, I wouldn’t regard myself as someone able to do research. Now, I am 100% certain I can. I was guided by excellent supervisors who supported my research, and I was able to come up with a unique research topic.

I am presently working on water security and global health, and I am involved in a project on water, health sanitation and hygiene (WASH) conditions in healthcare facilities in Latin American countries. I want to replicate this research in my country.”