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Sierra Leone: Using 3D Printing to Visualize Data

Longitudes reports on how the nation of Sierra Leone is using 3D printing in conjunction with data analytics to visualize information.

In fact, Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has just used “a 3D printer to create a map of his country, illustrating the distribution of the number of girls not attending primary school.”

Apparently, “the idea evolved over lunch at Sierra Leone’s State House, where senior government officials were discussing the status of education within the country.  The president wondered about ways in which existing complex data could be made more interpretable, so anyone could understand the challenges facing the education sector.”

Due to the lack of screens present at that discussion, it was difficult for everyone to fully participate.  Consequently, “the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI), located in the State House, engaged immediately to calculate the distribution of out-of-school girls in each chiefdom and generated an accurate representation of the analyses in a 3D model.”

Following this, “President Bio 3D printed the model for use in a policy discussion with the head of the UK’s Department for International Development, Mary Hunt.”

As Hunt elaborates on the benefits of using such a 3D printed model: “the fact you can pick it up and turn it around to see different aspects of the map makes you feel like you are there – in Kenema, Kabala, or Bonthe – seeing the challenges in people’s lives and what needs to change.  I was drawn to its clarity and potential.  I had to ask the president if I could take it with me – I wanted to share it with others.”

President Bo and his government also printed several other models, including “a representation of the relative distances children must walk to access schools in their chiefdoms…and the ideal locations of new schools to be built.”

These models will prove to be immensely helpful in establishing which areas in his country have the most educational needs.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Longitudes

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