A Collaborative Model to Decentralise Information

A Collaborative Model to Decentralise Information

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SDI Chile has brought ministries and regional authorities on one platform to enable effective management, delivery and sharing of geospatial information, thus unifying many systems and standardising the data formats.

The national spatial data infrastructure has been undertaken by the Chilean government to improve the generation, access and availability of geospatial information to support development of public policies and decision making in various fields. The Chilean SDI was conceived as a network of public institutions which manage spatial information, whether as creators or users and targets availability of information to all users

The history of SDI Chile dates back to the mid-’90s when the use of GIS had begun to grow. However, this led to a series of problems related to the generation and use of geospatial information. In addition to ignorance about the usefulness of such data and technologies, there was internal discord between institutions on data sharing, accuracy of existing information, data duplicacy and incompatibility, among others.

Finally, the National Territorial Information Coordination System, or SNIT, was formed in 2006 under the Ministry of National Assets, which established its functions and organisational structure and the duties of public bodies in relation to information management. Today, SDI Chile is in a consolidation phase; work is currently focused on establishing the institutional and technological conditions that will generate better geospatial information and promote its effective use.

Organisational model

SDI Chile has an organisational model based on a solid structure of coordination, which proposes that each of the 20 ministries and 15 regional institutions, that is part of it, be responsible for generating, maintaining and publishing geospatial information relating to its institutional mission. They have to conform to the standards, specifications and techniques of the SDI Chile’s Executive Secretariat to form an interconnected network of Web information services.

Furthermore, the development of skills for handling information at various stages (generation, analysis, integration and publication) is crucial. That is why the Executive Secretariat is also mandated to organise training workshops on software use for editing and use of standards, among others.

From the point of view of inter-agency coordination with ministries and utilities, bilateral working relationships were established to support the implementation of sectoral SDIs and collaborative tasks were shared by several institutions. In this context, clusters and thematic forces have been generated for different purposes, with the goal of empowering the national SDI. An example of this is illustrated in the conformation of the thematic areas of the SDI (affinity group of institutions in the content of the information generated), aimed at defining priorities and technical specifications of the priority data for the country’s basic information, infrastructure, land-use planning, natural resources, social development and equity. Other national needs have led to the creation of working groups, for instance, to develop national standards for interoperability between geoportals of political and administrative divisions of the country.

In addition to observing a model of distributed organisation, the SDI operates in a decentralised way. Each of the 15 regional governments are, in close coordination with the Executive Secretariat, leading the implementation of its SDI, often incorporating players who are not part of government services. Significantly, 14 of the 15 regions already have their own SDI and geospatial information portal operational. The results are for all to see

the Ministry of National Assets, was built by the same institution that aims to make land information available and provide background for decision making. Called Visor, the system currently displays information generated by 15 ministries and 20 public services. The information is arranged in layers and is freely available to all users at www.ide.cl. Online updation of information is allowed for institutions using WMS protocols. Visor has been received with enthusiasm by stakeholders in the public, private and academic sectors.

The objective of the SDI was to have an organised framework with human and technological resource to provide geospatial information to institutional management, and also to share it with other organisations. In some cases, large institutions with many directions and dependent utilities (such as the Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of Agriculture) have managed to unify systems by working with databases of unique and standardised data, and deploy information from corporate geoportals. Many other ministries have implemented their geospatial data infrastructure in the areas of environment, mining, energy, urban planning, development and social justice.

For the regions, the challenge remains the integration of geospatial information generated at different territorial levels, which requires close coordination. Some regions have had outstanding results, such as Los Ríos in south Chile, where the regional government (institution in charge of the regional coordination of geospatial information) developed a management model at the municipality levels.

The model of collaborative organisation pervades the process of developing a new institutional structure, in particular for the formulation of a national policy for geospatial information, which will define over the coming years the strategic direction for the management of public institutions. The objectives and strategic guidelines are structured around four areas — generation of geospatial information, access and use, interoperability and institutional framework. Many public institutions and authorities participated in formulating this proposal.

International participation

In the international sphere, Chile is an active participant in the Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) initiative led by the United Nations, which is embodied in the operation of an expert committee that addresses issues such as geospatial information for managing natural hazards, global map for sustainable development, integration of statistical and geographical information and others.

At the continental level, the Executive Secretariat of SDI Chile is Vice President of the initiative called ‘UN-GGIM Americas’, which is the regional expression of UN-GGIM. This organisation is focused on supporting the member countries in their national SDI processes, through the dissemination of good practices, training opportunities and experiences of policies and institutional framework implementation.

Interestingly, the Ministry of National Assets has a bilateral partnership with South Korea in the field of land management, geomatics and cadastre for exchange of experiences, knowledge and building capacity.

Challenges ahead

Despite the progresses made so far, there are some challenges to address in the short and medium term. They include:

  • Maintaining the local information generated by the 345 municipalities, particularly for digitisation and building private land registers.
  • Engaging citizens in the generation of geospatial information by generating necessary validation mechanisms.
  • Pushing for implementation of the WFS standard in order to enable download of online information while maintaining intellectual property of the data.
  • Propagating the usefulness of geospatial information in all areas of problem solving and decision making.