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Creating an info highway

Dr. Khalid A. Rahman Al-Haidan

Dr. Khalid A. Rahman Al-Haidan
Director, GIS Directorate
Central Informatics Organization (CIO)
Kingdom of Bahrain
Email: [email protected]

Bahrain Spatial Data Infrastructure (BSDI) – is an innovative endeavour in conformance to the policies of the Government of Bahrain, in effectively recognising the significance of spatial information, to the planning, governance of the nation and provision of public services. BSDI provides a base or structure of practices and relationships among data producers and users that facilitate data sharing and use and it is also a set of actions and new ways of accessing, sharing and using geographic data.

One of the objects of this project is to emphasise the concept of a single, consistent, accessible, government funded infrastructure as a basis for developing competitive, private sector, value adding services towards sustainable development.

Importance of BSDI
Bahrain Spatial Data Infrastructure (BSDI) is a powerful tool for economic and social development, and environmental management, enabling the full potential of GIS technology. It is structured as a network of databases throughout the Kingdom, which collectively provide the fundamental data required for achieving diversified national objectives like: socio-economic human resources, surveying and mapping, facilities management, demand for analysis and modelling to support resource management and planning, transportation, automation of land records, multipurpose cadastral, development and environmental mapping.

The main objectives of BSDI are to make information available to all the concerned ministries, public and private organisations and thereby increase their efficiency. This is to be achieved by creating a spatial data clearinghouse with a centralised data repository; directing and supporting the development of integrated GIS systems. The implementation of BSDI will result in substantial reduction in the cost of development of digital geospatial data, quick delivery of services, easy accessibility to geospatial data for the government and general public. BSDI aims at facilitating and co-coordinating the exchange and sharing of spatial data among the stakeholders of government and private sectors as well as other GIS role players in the Kingdom of Bahrain, thus creating an information highway and facilitating smooth transaction and integration of sophisticated geospatial data sets. Activities of BSDI are focussed towards being used as an indispensable resource for decision-making across all sectors of business, industry and the community and also to help in the development of an innovative and competitive spatial data industry. BSDI represents the platform for leveraging the national investment in GIS technology and database by establishing a necessary framework of policies, partnerships, standards, data, procedures, technology and institutional capabilities that are needed to support more effective data sharing and utilisation of geographic information (GI) in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

As a future endeavor, BSDI aims towards enabling the Kingdom of Bahrain to participate constructively in regional and global initiatives of spatial data infrastructures and, thereby, to assist countries in the region, in developing their economies. It is also aimed at providing a regional framework within which all existing arrangements can operate and which can provide the basis for future cooperation at the national, regional and global levels.

BSDI Portal-Capitalisation of three Ps
BSDI is a manifestation of National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) to serve government organisations, private sectors, academic institutions/organisations and the public sector in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Following are examples of the BSDI services to the government, business and the citizens:

Services of BSDI Portal: Government to Government (G2G)
Sharing geospatial data with other government organisations in the Kingdom, for example: Survey & Land Registration Bureau (SLRB); Electricity and Water Authority (EWA); Ministry of Works (MoW) (Kingdom of Bahrain).

Services of BSDI Portal: Government to Citizen (G2C)
Data layers available to public/citizens for use include street centerlines, addresses, satellite imagery, building polygons, administrative boundaries, points of interest (POI).

Services of BSDI Portal: Government to Business (G2B)
The BSDI portal supports private sector businesses. For example, telecommunication companies and oil and gas industry of the Kingdom, by providing relevant data in terms of street center lines, administrative boundaries, addresses and points of interest.

Endeavour to Share Information
The role of BSDI in local Bahraini government environment is not only restricted to automate tasks to bring about efficiency. It recognises geospatial projects as an opportunity to introduce fundamental changes in the modus operandi of its own functioning and the functions of other stakeholder organisations.

Directorate of GIS implements geospatial projects under the umbrella NSDI, wherein along with the adoption of management and executive information systems, the use of Web GIS effectively reorganises data sharing and information distribution to stakeholders.

Hence the geospatial data layers used for these Web GIS applications out of the corporate geodatabase effectively eliminate redundant collection and storage of information. This endeavour reflects and promotes recommendation of the use of the corporate database concept to integrate GIS data for all units of local government participating in a cooperative corporate GIS programme.

Future Vision
An effective corporate database would require cooperation on the part of all users, both for the collection and entry of data in the database and in developing applications in a shared data context.

Emphasis must, however, be placed on maintaining a high quality of data and services to users, mainly to offset the perceived loss of control that accompanies sharing an individual’s data to another part of the organisation.

The corporate database concept can be used in the governmental situation, for either single unit of government or between several governmental entities in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The advantages associated with the corporate database can be achieved if governmental units are willing to cooperate and share a multi-purpose regional GIS database. By centralising the Kingdom’s resources and efforts, and reducing the overlap in various functions associated with geospatial data support, the Directorate would be in a position to provide quality services and data to more of the enterprise at less cost. Centralised, corporate data would also ensure that critical data used by many users is accurate, authentic, consistent, and complete.

The Corporate GIS group would act as a resource for the entire group of government offices, private and public sectors.

Roles and Responsibilities of NSDI towards Future of Corporate GIS

  • Build basic and reusable applications to solve real-world needs
  • Support organisations needing immediate help
  • Provide basic support to all users
  • Act as a catalyst to improve GIS technology, leverage other related information technology
  • Serve as an enabling organisation that establishes technical standards through consensus
  • Facilitate GIS education through “technology transfer”
  • Serve as a leader in advancing GIS technology
  • Foster values of technology and data sharing and a corporate good for the whole attitude
  • Encourage the development and usage of integrated service offerings, rather than functional silos.

In NSDI’s vision, a major responsibility of corporate is management of centralised or ‘core’ GIS information. It is envisaged that managing the Kingdom’s core GIS data at one location would lead to efficient management of the same.