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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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• More effective and more transparent coordination, where voters are able to access the spatial information they require to evaluate the choices made by elected decision makers;

• The creation of economic wealth through the development of products and services based on spatial information collected by all levels of government; and

• The maintenance of environmental sustainability through the regular and repeated monitoring of a wide range of spatial indicators distributed throughout the country as a whole.

Realizing this vision of spatially enabled society is dependent on the development of appropriate mechanisms to facilitate the delivery of data and services. These mechanisms should embody the following principles that are the foundation of the INSPIRE initiative (CEC 2004).

• Collect spatial data once. Maintain at most effective level;

-5 Seamlessly combine spatial data from different sources, “mix and match”, visualise and share it among many users and applications;

• Collect spatial data at one level of government and share it with Whole of Government;

• Make spatial data needed for good governance available without restrictions on use;

• Identify what spatial data is available, its fitness for purpose and conditions on its use, through effective sorting and data mining.

• Organise government business processes around “place” information by geocoding of places and features.

Future directions In order to facilitate the realization of spatially enabled society and governments, there is a need for a service-oriented infrastructure on which citizens and organizations can rely for the provision of required services, going beyond what has been described as the first and second generation of SDI development of a data discovery and retrieval nature (Rajabifard et al. 2003). This includes a focus for spatial information managers on the delivery of a virtual world which facilitates decision making at a community level within a national context. There is also the need to develop institutional practices to make existing and future technology more effective. Research has found that very few jurisdictions have developed a framework for establishing a spatial infrastructure that addresses comprehensively operational, organizational and legal issues. It is these processes that will enable the infrastructure to be readily useable and available to all stakeholders.

This translates into the future focus for spatial information managers on the delivery of a virtual world which facilitates decision making at a community level within a national context. This requires integration of the natural and built environmental data sets and the need for a spatial data infrastructure that facilitates this integration. The technology exists to create this virtual world but this is not enough in itself without the sustained input from both data producers and users.

The benefits of a virtual world will include the representation of feature-based structures of the world as well as the administration and institutional aspects of such features, enabling both technical and institutional (eg. policies) aspects to be incorporated into decision-making. It is this aspect of research that is often identified as more challenging than complex technical issues. The vision of a virtual world however is overly simplistic and presents many challenges, with one of the major challenges being the creation of an SDI to support the vision. Whilst most SDI authorities will agree that SDIs should be user driven, there is little discussion on the spatial information vision for each country or what sort of ICT enabled society we wish to be. However unless an agreement on a spatial information vision for each country (or jurisdiction) is made, it is almost impossible to create an appropriate SDI vision. Therefore the first challenge is to clearly describe and articulate the type of society an SDI should support. Some other challenging questions for future SDI development are posed by the need for a high level of multilevel stakeholder participation in SDI implementation.

Further, the development of SDI initiatives driven more by sub-national governments differ from the top-down approach that is implied by the development of national led SDIs, implicit in much of the current SDI literature. This new bottom-up sub-national view is important as it highlights the importance of diversity and heterogeneity given the different aspirations of various stakeholders.

-6Consequently, the challenge to those involved in SDI development is to find ways of ensuring some measure of standardization and uniformity while recognising the diversity and heterogeneity of various stakeholders. The use of open standards and an interoperable enabling platform will allow functions and services that meet business needs to be brought together at a sub-national and application level, reducing duplication of effort and furthering the development of a spatially enabled society.

Having said that, the ability to implement spatial enablement, requires a range of activities and

processes to be created across all jurisdictional levels (Rajabifard 2007). These include:

• an enabling platform comprising institutional, collaborative framework, governance, legal and technical tools for data sharing as part of ICT, e-government and information sharing strategies;

• building on NSDI and related initiatives;

• using geocodes and “place” related information, such as national geocoded street address files;

• facilitating the use of legal land parcels and legal property objects to better manage all rights, restrictions and responsibilities relating to land;

• developing more holistic data models to integrate separate land administration data silos where they exist;

• maintaining complete and optimally continually updated national cadastral maps of legal parcels, properties and legal objects, as part of the NSDI;

• often re-engineering the institutions of government;

• increasingly legal frameworks to facilitate integration and management;

• activities on spatial data standards, interoperability and integratability;

• development of authoritative registers of key spatial information;

• research and development;

• growth in capacity at societal, institutional and individual levels.

GSDI Association and Vision of Spatially Enabled Society The GSDI Association is a non-profit, inclusive, global organization made up of members from different countries both from emerging and developed nations, major industry and government organizations, and individuals. The organization promotes international cooperation and collaboration in creating local, national and international SDI to assist nations to address social, economic, and environmental issues. The Association promotes the Global SDI to facilitate ready, world wide access to geographic and spatial information to support decision making at all scales for multiple purposes.

The Association plays a critical role in helping to address societal problems through the use of spatial capacity. GSDI Association has come along way since the GSDI initiative began in 1996 and the Association came into existence in 2002. However, the scope of the Association has broadened considerably in this relatively short time. This reflects the expanding uses to which

-7spatial capacity is now able to be deployed, the increasing diversity of organizations and skills now using this capacity, and the corresponding expansion in demands of Association members.

The essence of what the Association does is help to create an enabling environment that enhances outcomes in societies, economies and the global environment. The betterment of societies through spatial enablement is one of the goals of this association. Spatial enablement will assist both developed and developing countries to pursue sustainable development objectives and MDGs and it will ensure better productivity and efficiency. Therefore, GSDI Association considered “Realizing Spatially Enabled Societies” as a theme for the Association in the next period and the GSDI-12 world conference in Singapore in October 2010.

Conclusions Responding to millennium development goals and meeting sustainable development objectives we need to develop can be achieved through the development of products and services based on spatial information collected by all levels of governments and these objectives can be facilitated through the development of a spatially enabled government and society. The development of a spatially enabled government and society is ongoing and multi-disciplinary; achieving it will draw on a wide range of experiences and disciplines from surveying and mapping, land administration, GIS, information and communications technology, computer science, legal and public administration and many more. This paper has addressed four strategic challenges that need to be considered when implementing SDIs to spatially enable society.

The first of these indicates the need for new and more inclusive models of governance to enable the very large number of stakeholders from all levels of government as well as the private sector and academia to participate in the management of the processes of SDI implementation. The second challenge considered the strategic questions associated with data sharing between different kinds of organization. The third challenge relates to the establishment of enabling platforms to facilitate access to spatial data and the delivery of data related services. It can be viewed as an infrastructure linking people to data through linking data users and providers on the basis of the common goal of data sharing. Further, this infrastructure would be a vehicle from which both textual and spatial data are utilized to form a range of supported functions for those within the industry as well as nonspatial and non-technical user groups. The fourth challenge related to the capacity building issue which tasks to be undertaken in order to create a fully spatially enabled society. Further, the ability to implement spatial enablement, requires a range of activities and processes to be created across all jurisdictional levels.

References Commission of the European Communities, (CEC), (2004), Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and the Council establishing an infrastructure for spatial information in the Community (INSPIRE), COM (2004) 516 final, Brussels: Commission of the European Communities.

GSDI, (1997), Global Spatial Data Infrastructure conference findings and resolutions, Chapel Hill, North Carolina (http://www.gsdi.org/docs1997/97_gsdi97r.html) Masser, I. (2005), GIS worlds: creating spatial data infrastructures, Redlands CA ESRI Press.

-8Masser, I., Rajabifard, A., and Williamson, I.P. (2007), ‘Spatially Enabling Governments through SDI implementation’, International Journal of GIS, Vol. 21, July, 1-16.

Rajabifard, A. (Eds), 2007, ‘Towards a Spatially Enabled Society’ ISBN 978-0-7325-1620-8, The University of Melbourne. 400 pp.

Rajabifard, A., Binns, A., Masser, I., and Williamson, I.P. (2006a), ‘The Role of Sub-national Government and the Private Sector in Future SDIs’, Vol 20, No 7, International Journal of GIS, 727-741.

Rajabifard, A., Binns, A. and Williamson, I. (2006b), Virtual Australia – an enabling platform to improve opportunities in the spatial information industry, Journal of Spatial Science Special Edition, Vol. 51, No. 1, June 2006.

Rajabifard, A, Feeney, M.E.F., Williamson, I.P., and Masser, I., (2003), ‘National SDI Initiatives ’, Chapter6, Development of Spatial Data Infrastructures: from Concept to Reality, ISBN 0-415-30265X, Taylor & Francis, U.K.

Wallace, J., Rajabifard, A., and Williamson, I. (2006), Spatial information opportunities for Government, Journal of Spatial Science, Vol. 51, No. 1, June 2006.

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