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Providing spatial data as public utility in Dubai

Manal Alshamlan


Manal Alshamlan
Head of GIS Development Section,
Dubai GIS CENTER, Dubai Municipality, UAE
Email: [email protected]
Dubai GIS Center continues to seek innovative and effective means of applying GIS technology to improve all government authorities’ operational and planning capabilities and the quality of life of citizens and residents

The Dubai GIS Center was established with the purpose of unification and integration of the geographical information in the Emirate of Dubai. And a proposal on this issue came from His Highness the Chairman of Dubai Municipality, and since a large proportion of the information exchanged between government departments is geographic in nature, a unifying access to this data through a central hub became immensely useful. This led to considerable cost and timesavings, which was realized from having all the essential information at fingertips through a single window. The Center is the sole authority for setting standards, dissemination, collation and compilation of the overall geo-referenced data in and for the Emirate of Dubai. It is also considered to be the official source for compilation of basic and detailed digital and descriptive geospatial information of the Emirate from the various government departments, authorities, public corporations, individuals and companies.


An example of spatial data as a public utility
The Center in this capacity is also responsible for the protection and maintenance of such information and data, and for establishing technical restrictions regulating its relationship with the said parties. All this has led to the development of solid pillars for an Enterprise GIS that is based on a corporate geospatial database, and Web-GIS applications that make geo-spatial data visible to those who are authorized to access it.

The Enterprise GIS is formed of structured spatial data that currently consists of over 230 features of vector data, several sets of raster, attribute and other associated data, and it is designed to host all vector data available at other government authorities. At the Center – currently over 8 government departments/authorities – all vector is being updated and descriptive meta-data relating to it is made available too. All information related to the GIS features is retrieved from other databases that could reside at the source government authority real-time with a speed that doesn’t exceed 4 seconds.


The access to all geospatial information and data is made available in agreement and cooperation between the Center and the said authorities, and made stronger through a process of creating a strategic partnership with all government departments of the Emirate of Dubai.

Cooperation among all government authorities is bounded through memorandums of understanding that define details of working together integrally to render the best service to the Emirate.

The Dubai GIS Center continues to seek innovative and effective means of applying GIS technology to improve all government authorities’ operational and planning capabilities and the quality of life of citizens and residents. The implementation of an Enterprise GIS coupled Web-based applications, as a key data dissemination tool, is a key strategy of the GIS Center. A key Web-GIS application is DUGIS (www.dugis.ae). It offers powerful capabilities in an easy to use framework. It has nicely changed the way government users can access and interact with mapping and GIS data on their desktops. All government authorities users connected to the GIN (Dubai Government Information highly secured network), are able to access DUGIS. While Web-GIS applications are rich in content, users get access only to data that they are authorized to access. DUGIS Web-Application provides a flexible set of tools to perform the functions handled by government agencies. More importantly, DUGIS makes data sharing among departments easier so that the government can work as a single enterprise. In accordance with its vision (Making Spatial Data a Public Utility), the GIS Center utilizes its latest Internet technologies to disseminate geospatial data to replace traditional channels for dissemination.

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