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«Eighteenth United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for Asia and the Pacific Bangkok, 26-29 October 2009 Item 7(b) of the provisional agenda ...»

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UNITED NATIONS E/CONF.100/IP.4

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL

Eighteenth United Nations Regional Cartographic

Conference for Asia and the Pacific

Bangkok, 26-29 October 2009

Item 7(b) of the provisional agenda

Invited Papers

Realizing Spatially Enabled Societies –

A Global Perspective in Response to Millennium

Development Goals*

*

Prepared by Abbas Rajabifard, GSDI President, Director, Centre for Spatial Data Infrastructures and Land Administration Department of Geomatics, University of Melbourne 18th UNRCC-AP Conference, 26-30 October 2009, Bangkok, Thailand Realizing Spatially Enabled Societies – A Global Perspective in Response to Millennium Development Goals Abbas RAJABIFARD GSDI President Director, Centre for Spatial Data Infrastructures and Land Administration Department of Geomatics, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia Email: abbas.r@unimelb.edu.au Summary Spatially Enabled Society is a scenario for the future as we are in an increasingly complex and rapidly changing world. In this environment, meeting sustainable development objectives and responding to Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are also complex and temporal processes which involving multiple stakeholders. The creation of economic wealth, social stability and environmental protection in line with MDGs can be achieved through the development of products and services based on spatial information collected by all levels of government. These goals and objectives can be facilitated through the development of a spatially enabled government and society, where location and spatial information are regarded as common goods made available to citizens and businesses to encourage creativity and product development. This requires data and services to be accessible and accurate, well-maintained and sufficiently reliable for use by the majority of society which is not spatially aware.

Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDIs) as enabling platforms are being developed by many countries to improve access, sharing and integration of spatial data and services however, there are still many issues and challenges which need to be overcome in order to have a fully functioning platform. This paper aims to introduce and discuss various challenges and issues associated in re-engineering current SDI design to support the new vision on spatially enabled government and society. It also discusses the central role that an SDI as the enabling platform plays in facilitating data sharing and integration. The paper highlights a range of activities and processes to be created across all jurisdictional levels in order to facilitate such a platform design and development. This includes aspects of designing, creating and processes involved in development and in particular governance of an SDI platform.

Introduction Ready and timely access to spatial information - knowing where people and assets are - is essential and is a critical tool for making any informed decisions on key economic, environmental and social issues. Spatial information is an enabling technology/infrastructure for modern society.

Our relationships with our physical world and the way we use our social networks are changing as we deploy technology in new ways to create new ways of interacting with each other.

-1Spatial information and technologies are key tools in this transformation because we define our relationships by place. The ‘spatial enablement’ that these tools create can reshape our lives (VSIS 2008).

In facilitating this and to improve access, sharing and integration of spatial data and services, SDIs have emerged as enabling platform. SDI is a dynamic, hierarchic and multi-disciplinary concept that includes people, data, access networks, institutional policy, technical standards and human resource dimensions. SDIs were initially developed as a mechanism to facilitate access and sharing of spatial data for use within a GIS environment. However, the role that SDI initiatives are playing within society is now changing. Users now require the ability to gain access to precise spatial information in real time about real world objects, in order to support more effective crossjurisdictional and inter-agency decision making in priority areas such as emergency management, disaster relief, natural resource management and water rights and in meeting sustainable development objectives and responding to Millennium Development Goals which are complex and involved temporal processes with multiple stakeholders. Having said that, the ability to gain access to information and services has moved well beyond the domain of single organizations, and SDIs now require an enabling platform to support multi-sourced data integration and the chaining of services across participating organizations and countries.

The ability to generate solutions to cross-jurisdictional issues has become a national priority for many countries for the development of effective decision-making tools which is a major area of business for the spatial information industry. Much of the technology needed to create these solutions already exists; however, it also depends on an institutional and cultural willingness to share outside of ones immediate work group. This creates the need for jurisdictional governance and inter-agency collaborative arrangements to bring together both information and users to facilitate the realization of spatially enabled society.





This paper discusses various challenges and issues associated in re-engineering current SDI design to facilitate SDI development, monitoring and their assessments. The paper outlines the role of SDI in creating more effective decision-making processes to deal with cross-jurisdictional issues through the creation of an enabling platform that links services and information across jurisdictions and organizations. This is to support the new vision on spatially enabled government and society.

This would support a knowledge base to access information derived from a model of integrated datasets from different perspectives.

SDI and spatially enabling platform The creation of economic wealth, social stability and environmental protection can be achieved through the development of products and services based on spatial information collected by all levels of government. These objectives can be facilitated through the development of a spatially enabled government and society, where location and spatial information are regarded as common goods made available to citizens and businesses to encourage creativity and product development.

This requires data and services to be accessible and accurate, well-maintained and sufficiently reliable for use by the majority of society which is not spatially aware.

In this regard, in modern society, spatial information is an enabling technology or an infrastructure to facilitate decision making. Spatial information can be a unifying medium in which linking solutions to location. According to Victorian Spatial Information Strategy (VSIS 2008), user

–  –  –

With this in mind and in order to better manage and utilise spatial data assets, many countries around the world are developing SDI as a way to facilitate data management and data sharing and utilise their spatial data assets as this information is one of the most critical elements underpinning decision making for many disciplines. The steps to develop an SDI model vary, depending on a country’s background and needs. However, it is important that countries develop and follow a roadmap for SDI implementation.

SDI as an enabling platform is an integrated, multi-levelled hierarchy of interconnected SDIs based on partnerships at corporate, local, state/provincial, national, multi-national (regional) and global levels. This enables users to save resources, time and effort when trying to acquire new datasets by avoiding duplication of expenses associated with the generation and maintenance of data and their integration with other datasets. However, SDI is an evolving concept and can be viewed as an enabling platform linking data producers, providers and value adders to data users. With this in mind, many nations and jurisdictions are investing in developing such platforms and infrastructures that enable their stakeholders to work together in a more mutual approach and to create distributed virtual systems that support better decision-making. At the same time, these nations and jurisdictions need a system to assess and monitor the development and performance of the platform.

The development of an SDI as an enabling platform for a country will enhance the capability of government, the private sector and the general community in engaging in systems based, integrated and holistic decision making about the future of that jurisdiction and this could help the country capacity to respond to MDGs and meeting sustainable development objectives. Applications, tools, and different sorts of information required to achieve these objectives would be available through the platform to build a view of, query and allow decisions to be based on, both the built and natural environments which further could help in responding to MDGs. Having said that, however, there is a need to move beyond a simple understanding of SDI, and to create a common rail gauge to support initiatives aimed at solving cross-jurisdictional and national issues. This SDI will be the main gateway through which to discover, access and communicate spatially enabled data and information about the country and regions. Such an entity can be enhanced so that it is possible to share in addition to data, business goals, strategies, processes, operations and value-added products.

-3SDIs aim to facilitate and coordinate the sharing of spatial data between stakeholders, based on a dynamic and multi-hierarchical concept that encompasses the policies, organizational remits, data, technologies, standards, delivery mechanisms and financial and human resources necessary to ensure that those working at the appropriate (global, regional, national, local) scale are not impeded in meeting their objectives (GSDI, 1997). This in turn supports decision making at different scales for multiple purposes, and enables users to save both time and money in accessing and acquiring new datasets by avoiding duplication of expenses and effort associated with the generation and maintenance of spatial data (Rajabifard et al. 2006a).

However, effective use of spatial information requires the optimization of Data SDIs to support spatial information system design and applications, and subsequent business uses. The need to find optimal SDI models requires ongoing research that reflects current social, cultural and business systems, as the measured benefits of building SDIs have not been as Enabling forthcoming as projected. To achieve this, the concept of an SDI is Platform moving to a new business model, in which the SDI promotes partnerships of spatial information organizations (public/private), allowing access to a wider scope of data and services, of greater size and complexity than they could individually provide. SDI as an enabling platform can be People viewed as an infrastructure linking people to data (Rajabifard et al., 2006b) through linking data users and providers on the basis of the Figure 2: SDI common goal of data sharing (Figure 2). connecting people to data In this environment all types of organizations participating (including governments, industries, and academic) can gain access to a wider share of the information market. This is a vision to facilitate the integration of existing government spatial data initiatives for access and delivery of data/information to a wider society and also at a multi-national level collaboration. This integration would be based on common standards and business understanding and combines distributed functions provided by participating organizations to deliver services which structured and managed in such a way that to be seen by third parties as a single enterprise.

The creation of an enabling platform would lower barriers to access and use of spatial data, to both government and the wider community within any jurisdiction, and particularly to the spatial information industry. If barriers are minimised, then entities would be able to pursue their core business objectives with greater efficiency and effectiveness. In particular, industry would be able to reduce their costs, which would encourage investment in capacity for generating and delivering a wider range of spatial information products and services to a wider market. Having said that, in order to develop a successful and functioning platform requires a set of concepts and principles to enable the design of an integration platform that facilitates interoperability and inter-working of functional entities within a heterogeneous environment. Further, these concepts and principles can be used as indicators to assess the performance of SDIs.

-4Spatially enabled society Spatially Enabled Society is a scenario for the future as we are in an increasingly complex and rapidly changing world. Societies can be regarded as spatially enabled ‘where location and spatial information are regarded as common goods made available to citizens and businesses to encourage creativity and product development’ (Wallace et al. 2006).

–  –  –

SDI Implementation The first of these is the need for more inclusive models of Data Sharing governance given that SDI formulation and implementation involves a very large number of stakeholders from all levels of government as well as the private sector and academia. The Creation of Enabling second concerns the promotion of data sharing between Platforms different kinds of organization. In some cases this may require new forms of organization to carry out these tasks. The third challenge relates to the establishment of enabling platforms to Capacity Building facilitate access to spatial data and the delivery of data related services. The fourth challenge arises from the changes that are Figure 3: Strategic Challenges taking place in the nature of the users of spatial information in recent years. In place of the spatial professionals who have pioneered these developments an increasing number of end users will need some training in spatial thinking to make them more literate users. Consequently there are a number of new capacity building tasks to be undertaken in order to create a fully spatially enabled government.

Further, a spatial enabled government is one that plans to achieve three broad goals:



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