The PLACE Mapping Tool: A Plug-In for GIS

The PLACE Mapping Tool allows users to produce the planning and coverage maps they need, even with limited knowledge of a geographic information systems (GIS),

QGIS Mapping Tool Sample
Sample output produced with the mapping tool. This map was created for illustrative purposes only.
Many researchers and planners whose work focuses on where to reach people most likely to acquire and transmit HIV use the Priorities for Local AIDS Control Efforts (PLACE) method to monitor and improve the coverage of HIV prevention programs in areas where HIV transmission is most likely to occur. (The method was developed by MEASURE Evaluation—a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development and the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.) Maps can help people decide where to focus their attention and determine which prevention and outreach activities deserve priority. But many PLACE researchers have not been trained in the use of geographic information systems (GIS) or other mapping software, and such software typically requires a steep learning curve to become useful. 

The PLACE Mapping Tool allows users to produce the planning and coverage maps they need, even with limited knowledge of a GIS. Because the tool works as a plug-in with QGIS (a popular free and open-source GIS program), a researcher can use it to import data and display them in a basic fashion on a computer screen and in a printout. The tool also allows a GIS technician to work with the data later, if need be.

The tool can handle two types of geographic data:

  1. Planning data (such as census or population data or HIV prevalence data, usually shown as a percentage or priority score, by district)
  2. Prevention/outreach targeting data (discrete locations, such as venues where key populations gather, or information about condom distribution)

Output is generated automatically both as a PDF, which includes title and legend information that the user can customize, and a QGIS file, which can be used for further customization, future display, or further spatial analysis.

What’s Included

The tool package—downloadable below; see instructions—comes with a complete version of QGIS, Excel templates for properly preparing your own data, and special geographic map data files—called “shapefiles”—that provide the administrative area geometry for 14 countries:

  • Angola
  • Burundi
  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)
  • Ghana
  • Haiti
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Rwanda
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda

Documentation included with the tool describes the following:

  1. How to format the two types of basic PLACE data (district data and GPS coordinate location data)
  2. How to work with the tool’s “wizard” to produce a map
  3. Tips on how to use some of the basic features of the QGIS software
  4. Information on where to go for GIS instruction


Download the tool by clicking the button below or from It is a large file (approximately 150Mb) and will arrive as a zipped package. Please extract (unzip) the file to the location of your choice—preferably on your local hard drive. Extracted, the file will occupy approximately 800Mb of space. Do not rename or move any of the folders. Inside the main folder, you will find an instruction manual detailing how to run the tool and how to add your own data to work with the tool.

Download the tool

Related Content

The PLACE Mapping Tool: A Plug-In for QGIS (Factsheet)

The PLACE Mapping Tool (PowerPoint with sound)

Filed under: Spatial Analysis , QGIS , HIV , GIS , PLACE , Key Populations , Geographic Information Systems , Mapping