‘Geospatial information is a vital tool for our country to compete in...

‘Geospatial information is a vital tool for our country to compete in the international arena’

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Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (Public Organization) (GISTDA) is the Thai state organization under the supervision of the Minister of Science and Technology, responsible for activities related to space technology and geoinformatics applications in the country. It is mandated to develop, apply, distribute and promote the use of space technology with a seamless knowledge to every level of end users in the country.

Dr. Anond Snidvongs
Dr. Anond Snidvongs
Acting Executive Director
Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (Public Organization)
Thailand

Can you brief us about the mandate and activities of Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency?
Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (Public Organization) (GISTDA) is the Thai state organization under the supervision of the Minister of Science and Technology, responsible for activities related to space technology and geoinformatics applications in the country. It is mandated to develop, apply, distribute and promote the use of space technology with a seamless knowledge to every level of end users in the country.

GISTDA provides a variety of satellite imagery, ranging from low-resolution to very high resolution. GISTDA is also the reseller of TERRA/ASTER and high resolution satellite data including IKONOS and GeoEye, QuickBird and WorldView for domestic users. We also provide remote sensing and GIS solutions to clients in Thailand.

GISTDA also organises regular training courses on geo-informatics (which includes remote sensing, GIS, GPS, and mapping).

Is your data available only for users in Thailand?
Since its launch in October 2008, THEOS has majorly supported the government tasks. However, THEOS data is not limited for the users in Thailand. It’s available for international users as well because it has a sun-synchronous orbit with 51 G-bits on-board solid-state recorder that makes THEOS acquire images globally. Therefore, THEOS data can serve all users worldwide depending on their requirements.

Does GISTDA work through distributors or do you have a direct sales model for your data?
We (GISTDA) do work through both data distribution channels including distributorship and direct sale. Distributorship is implemented in international market while direct sale is for domestic market. Actually, we tend to come up with a solutions and business cooperation. There are three distribution schemes for the international market:

  1. Ground station setting for direct telemetry reception – distributor will be granted an exclusive distributor license automatically.
  2. Exclusive distributor – The distributor will be granted an exclusive distributor license over the determined territories and minimum annual commitment is required.
  3. Non-exclusive distributor – The distributor will be granted a non-exclusive distributor license over the determined territories and minimum annual commitment is not required.

Thailand was the first country in Southeast Asia to set up a ground receiving station and the country further raised its profile in remote sensing with the launch of its remote sensing satellite THEOS. What have been the driving forces behind Thailand’s space programme?
This is not only GISTDA’s pride but the nation’s also. In addition to supporting the government tasks such as cartography, land use, agriculture, forestry, disaster management and national security, it also represents the advancement of technology development of the country.

Who are the key users of your data?
We mainly serve our satellite data and its application to the government of Thailand. However, we also promote and pursue this technology to the private segment.

How is the demand from the private sector?
Approximately 30 percent of our total sales come from the private sector. We work towards promoting the benefits of the technology among the businesses by conducting seminars and undertaking training. Therefore, demand from the private sector has increased continuously. Mostly, we provide full-scale of solutions to the clients.

GISTDA recently signed MoU with United Arab Emirates for space cooperation. What is the vision behind the MoU?
The MoU is aimed towards exchange of satellite data to fulfill the gaps.

What are your initiatives regarding effective data dissemination among users?
We are creating THEOS Global Online System which is a Web Map Tile Service System (WMTS) providing GIS and mapping data to the public. WMTS will provide satellite images and other THEOS data including transportation mapping, cadastral data and integrated location-based data such as tracking the scene in case of emergencies. The system will facilitate data search through an online catalogue. We look forward to alliances from both governmental and private sectors for the next phase of the system. The system will be a one-stop service provider. With WMTS, we aim to make it convenient for the distributors and clients to search, order and utilise THEOS, Spot-2, Spot-4, Spot-5, Landsat -5, Landsat-7, Radarsat-1, and Radarsat -2 data for various applications.

What is the status of Thailand’s National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI)? What is the role of GISTDA in its establishment?
Thailand’s National Committee on Geo-Information has appointed GISTDA to host the NSDI portal. The system is being developed by upgrading an existing GIS clearinghouse demonstration programme of GISTDA, established in 2009. Thai Industrial Standards Institute (TISI) was officially authorised to process the adopted ISO 19000 standards into Thai national geographic information standards whereas GISTDA was responsible for assisting in the development of standards to be published and registered. But this process was slow and could not keep pace with the technology development. In order to accelerate the process of standards publishing and registering, the National Committee on Geo-Information has decided to take on a role on issuing these standards as the committee standards, not national standards as yet. In this regard, GISTDA has been instructed to coordinate closely with TISI in standardisation of geospatial information for the country.

The website will act as a repository of metadata generated by data producers in Thailand. It will steadily provide services such as metadata accessibility of the Fundamental Geographic Data Set (FGDS) as well as other spatial data in the country.

The National Spatial Infrastructure Group takes care of this specific project as their full time job.

Kindly elaborate on GISTDA’s plans for THEOS-2?
GISTDA has deployed its new vision, “GISTDA: Delivering Values from Space.” To achieve this vision, two significant missions are being planned. One is to develop Thailand’s second earth observation satellite (THEOS-2) to ensure data continuity as well as to optimise the utilisation of THEOS. Parallel to the development of THEOS-2, the second mission is to establish the Space Krenovation Park (SKP) where creativity and innovation come together. We are targeting to establish the SKP by 2013. GISTDA aims to expand THEOS ground control station at Sriracha district, Chonburi province as an epicenter of SKP for space and GIS operations, R&D and knowledge transfer. With a strategic location close to the industrial area on the eastern seaboard of Thailand, it shall bridge the gap among GISTDA, the universities and the industrial firms through co-operative R&D, human resources and shared facilities. Thus, SKP can create a unique “Space Park” with dynamic clusters that accelerate economic growth.

SKP consists of five main parts:

  • Geo-Informatics Research and Training Centre – This is the ASEAN centre for R&D and technology transfer by experts.
  • THEOS Operations Centre- The center for activities including THEOS satellite control, mission planning, satellite data receiving and processing.
  • Space Technology Laboratory Centre – This is a centre of its kind for Thailand and ASEAN region. The centre will be equipped with state-of –the-art instruments for assembling and testing.
  • Space Technology Park Building – This provides infrastructure supporting R&D activities to be done by private sector, like Science Park. Science and geographic information (S&GI)-based innovation will be created as GISTDA will bridge the gaps among research institutes and universities. Space technology-based business incubator will be one of the business arms.
  • GIS and Space Technology Museum – The Museum will demonstrate S& GI activities in order to ignite imagination among the students and people. The museum will be a technical information centre as well.

Support of political machinery is vital to good health of geospatial industry in any country. Thailand recently witnessed a peaceful turn in the political scenario with successful elections. How do you see it impacting the geospatial industry?
Geospatial information is now a vital tool for our country to compete in the international arena. Any government, in principle, will support and promote use of geospatial information in all applications concerned. However as the geospatial market in Thailand is still dominated by the government and public sector, the recent political development will be good news for the geospatial industry and service providers. Any policies that enhance the use of geospatial information will be beneficial to the industry.