I wasn’t born early enough to meet their days but thanks to education, I was taught from my basic school that our forefathers had a different lifestyle and operated on different economic system. They were basically manual hard working people. They spent their entire time cultivating food on farms several kilometers or miles away from home. Others spent a lot of time in the bush in search of animals to kill for meat.

Obviously, the 24hrs was not enough for one to do all these activities. The one that were involved in hunting would come home with enough meat but no foodstuffs, likewise the one who goes in search of crop comes home with foodstuffs without meat. When they get home, they are left with one question; where can I get foodstuffs to add to my meat to make a meal or where can I get meat to add to my foodstuffs to make a meal, where can I get firewood to cook or grill my meat. There are many “where can I get” questions that they didn’t have answers at hand. What they did was to go out and look for someone who has what they are looking for and is also looking for what they have so they can exchange. That can be such frustrating task. They called this system Barter Trade. They trade with their commodities.

Later, currency was introduced, every country created their currency (Money) which they used to trade for any commodity. One need not have to look for another person who need what they have and have what they need anymore. I can imagine the relief those who had practiced the Barter Trade felt. The fundamental challenge of the barter system was location. Where can I find someone who has what I want and need what I have was the basic challenge.

I have been wondering, have we stopped asking this question even after the introduction of money?  Money or currency took our problems, repackaged it in a nice container and gave it back to us. Many people have money to buy certain products or goods and services but cannot find where to get them whiles many have goods or service that are going waste or lying idle somewhere and cannot find people to buy it. Opportunist takes advantage of this situation to increase the price of goods and services to an unreasonable price such that even if people have the money, they cannot buy the quantity they need to be satisfied. They ask the rhetorical question again i.e. Where can I go that I will get the product I need at a reasonable price? Again people are travelling several kilometers just to get the goods or services they want at a reasonable price; some people have the money but they still cannot buy what they want. The question for location has always been our quest for our living.

Our problem has been compounded in the last decade as more and more people are craving for comfort and convenient. This can be seen in the uprising of delivery services such as online shopping, Uber, moto bike delivery services, mobile applications and many more. Everyone want to stay at the comfort of their home and get what they want. We have reverted to the internet to look for where we can find what we need, those who are not advantage to put their product or services on the internet cannot be found. We spend more money trying to get internet so we can put our product out there to be found or to search for where we can get what we want. According to Joel Kamenovich, the Product Manager for Google maps API’s, 1 in every 5 searches on google engine is location related and its 1 in every 3 for mobile searches. He also disclosed that, there are about 2million apps and sites using google maps API’s every week. Again google share over 2 billion maps to users everyday through Google maps API’s. These emphasizes my point, although people may have money, they do not know where to find what they want. The crave for location is incredible; governments, civil societies, individuals, social groups and international organizations are all looking for locations of what they want.

A lot of money has been spent in attempt to boost the economy of many nations. I would want to ask does the government have control of the country so as to boost its economy? Can the government tell where things are and where people that need their policies reside in their country? If we don’t know where everything is in our country then we don’t have control of it. America has so much power and control because they can find all they are looking for. They don’t have all of it but they know where they are and they plan and get them. Can we boost an economy when we cannot point to place and tell what they have and what they do not have? How can we provide for such a place such that the people will be satisfied? Apart from cocoa, can we tell where all farms are, the type of crops they grow in them, the size of the farm and the quantity of food to expect? Can we tell those who need these product and where they are? Can we tell the date of harvest of these farms produce and access their roads to the give an idea which roads need to be constructed?

Can the Health service tell us the homes they last distributed free mosquito nets in order for us to examine if the incidence have reduce? Can we tell the homes that have recorded severe malaria cases in the last year so as to inform us who needs a free mosquito net intervention? Can we tell where all properties that need to be tasked are and those that have and have not paid their task so we can go for the difference? Can we tell where all the poor are so we can send poverty intervention to? How do we do proper evaluation of our projects and policies if we cannot find exactly where we implemented them? i intend these questions to be rhetorical and ponder about them.

Let’s think location! Let enforce policies that promote location; let capture locations.

Location Matters!!

# Everything happens somewhere

Francis Andorful, Geo-Information Scientist.