A relative newcomer, in terms of the use of GIS technology and implementation of enterprise GIS, Dubai established its GIS Center in early 2001 with a governmental mandate to act as the sole authority in the emirate to distribute geographic data
Decision makers in Dubai, one of the seven emirates included in the United Arab Emirates federation of states nestled together in the southern region of the Arabian Gulf believe that the provision of spatial data should be effortless and invisible, much like the services of a public utility or public works department. A relative newcomer, in terms of the use of GIS technology and implementation of enterprise GIS, Dubai established its GIS Center in early 2001 with a governmental mandate to act as the sole authority in the emirate to distribute geographic data.
“Our Vision is to make spatial data a public utility and serve accurate and up-to-date data to facilitate real-time mapping and decision making,” says Mohammed Al-Zaffin, Director of Dubai GIS Center.
To help fulfill its mandate, the government adopted a public utilities style system with the intent of providing a spatial data service in which any individual or organization in the world can imbed live, interactive mapping and basic GIS services for Dubai into their own applications without the need to communicate with the emirate and request permission to do so. To accomplish this, URLs can be easily generated within the Dubai GIS that can be embedded into a user’s application, which allows the user to employ Dubai’s GIS capabilities within his/her own website.
As the sole source of government mapping services in Dubai, the GIS Center is required to continually update its spatial databases – an ongoing activity that is performed automatically each evening. With more than 80,000 parcels in the emirate and approximately 30-40 transactions per parcel per day, Dubai needed a high volume, low maintenance system to meet its ’24/7 regardless’ mandate. System specifications required reliability at up to 10,000 hits per minute. To support this level of transaction activity, the Center has installed 15 10 servers, all running GIS software from ESRI, including ArcSDE for spatial data management, ArcIMS for distributing spatial data via the Internet, and ArcMap Server, which provides extensive display, query, and analytic capabilities for spatial data.
Redundancy is built into the Dubai GIS to avoid down time in the event of equipment failure. Security and performance were key issues at the time of installation. All communication between servers is controlled through well-designed rules for firewalls and port, protocol, and IP address controls. Access to the internal network is through dedicated back-end network connections. Performance is exceptional with any requested vector map generated in less than one second.
GIS for delivery services
With the ability to embed free, interactive maps into a user’s website, international companies such as DHL courier and food delivery companies are using the GIS for local delivery services, while other companies are embedding links to the Dubai GIS to enhance real estate transactions or provide site information for international hotel chains. Displayed maps can be personalized to highlight specific locations and can include custom labels and logos. A wealth of information is also readily available to the individual, including the availability of public transportation, the location of community facilities such as emergency services, schools, hotels, and hospitals and a variety of landmarks and tourist attractions.