An early adopter of geospatial technology, Korea has excelled in its use. The NSDI project is in its final leg and is benefitting a variety of sectors, says Doe Tae-HO, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure & Transport
How and when did the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) initiative begin in South Korea?
The NSDI initiative started in the mid-nineties after a couple of explosions in the underground LNG pipelines. The framework was formulated in 1995. Interestingly, South Korea started mapping all its underground assets before moving to land information system in 1998 and parcel-based land information system in 1999. The latter two combined to make up the Korea Land Information System (KLIS) in 2004.
In the first phase, we concentrated on establishing a framework for geospatial data. Several ministries benefitted from this common database. The core of the second phase comprised of building the application base, whereby each ministry developed its own database. The third phase focused on developing new technology and the fourth concentrates on renovation, which is transforming the previous application into something new. The private industry voluntarily participated in the data sharing process as did many Internet companies.
We have recently established an open platform for geospatial information, for which huge amount of spatial data was collected from different organisations. The open platform is designed to integrate and utilise over 800 types of spatial information collected by more than 200 municipalities, 76 systems and 23 ministerial organisations.
What is the level of use and adoption of geospatial technology in Korea?
By law, only the urban planning sector under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure & Transport (MOLIT) is mandated to use spatial data. But the technology has become pervasive in our lives as both public and private sector are using it for productivity gains while policymakers are using it for monitoring and decision making.
The government has spent lot of time and money to develop new technologies. And this is one of the reasons Korea is leading in terms of 3D technology. We have worked on developing an international standard of 3D data for OGC, and countries all over the world have participated in this.
If you ask about the status of spatial data infrastructure in Korea, I would say we are just below the top of the world, and much ahead of the developing countries.
How did Korea deal with national security problems and concerns when it came to spatial data sharing and making it open?
The Korean government had two solutions to deal with the security issues. One is based on the national security law, whereby sensitive national data has been excluded from the open data platform. Second, there are two levels to data accessibility on the Internet — while the first is open to all, the second level is open only to the user industries. At the second level, users have to mention why they want to access that particular data and where it will be used. It is only after obtaining their proposal and reasons, the data is delivered to them.
The Korea Land Information System (KLIS) was one of the first projects of NSDI. Can you tell us more on the Korean cadastre project?
The cadastre work in Korea is very systematic. Around 3,700 cadastral surveyors work every day at the district level and there are immediate updates. Any Korean citizen can get details about the authenticity of their land parcel online.
The Underground Facility Management System is also under our ministry. It facilitates management of seven underground facilities (water supply, sewer, electricity, gas, telecommunication, oils pipeline, heat). After the underground gas leak explosions in 1990s every underground facility has been accurately mapped at a scale of 1:100 and the project was completed in 2012.
What is the progress on the plans for switching to a 3D cadastre?
We are exploring the possibilities of using 3D data and introduced a pilot project in 2012. Data collection with the help of GNSS and other technologies will go on till 2020, following which a new cadastre system will be developed. Also, we need to resolve regulation, institution and ownership issues to complete the cadastre system. At the moment, there are laws for 2D cadastre, but there are no laws and taxation norms for using the third dimension. We need to address that too.