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Solutions for census operation

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Aymen A. Solyman


Aymen A. Solyman
GIS Expert, GTZ, Germany
[email protected]

Census operation is a very important event in the history of a nation. The operation covers every bit of land and property in rural and urban areas of a country. In Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the Central Department of Statistics (CDS) conducts census operation every 10 years. The last census operation was conducted in (1992) .

The preparation of the next census operation began in 2003 and expected to be finished by the end of 2006. Census information must be shared by all divisions within the organization to support mandated functions and also to supply other ministries and organizations in KSA with this information. The key factors of implementing an Enterprise GIS solution are cooperation, management, knowledge, funding and experience. This article describes the system developed for KSA census data distribution.

GIS and census data
When we look at major forces of the 21st century like population growth, economic development and consumption of natural resources, we see that all of them have a spatial component. Data produced by the census is a primary source of information needed for effective development, planning and monitoring of population, services distribution and socio-economics.

The census database contains a lot of attribute information which can be linked to spatial data by spatial referencing. Relating the spatial component along with non-spatial attributes of the existing organizational data enhances user’s understanding and gives new insights into the patterns and relationships in the data that would otherwise not be found, and to enhance the decision-making process. Taking into consideration that many potential users of spatial information don’t know about GIS technology, the development of an Enterprise GIS solution would serve two crucial purposes. Firstly, it would allow the users to operate the system without having to know the underlying intricacies of GIS and RDBMS technology. Secondly, it would allow sharing of information and technical experience between a wide range of users.

Enterprise GIS
Over the past few years, the terms Enterprise GIS and Enterprise-wide GIS are becoming more common in the GIS community, in organizational strategic plans and requests for services. Enterprise GIS is not a method to provide automated map plotting capabilities to the entire organization. Enterprise GIS is the sum of a coordinated GIS effort and its federated systems working together to support and promote coordinated geo-spatial data development and access across jurisdictional and organizational boundaries.

The vision and promise of Enterprise GIS is its ability to be an essential or core technology that integrates information across the many “islands of computer information systems” that exist in any organization. The critical capabilities associated with Enterprise GIS include:

  • Integrating geographic data across departments and serves the entire organization
  • Providing desktop access via LAN and WAN connections to anyone who needs access, i.e. Enterprise GIS fully supports client-server operability
  • Providing access to other information systems in the organization by using a map or application as the integrator of the organization’s information; and
  • Communicating with other entities outside of the enterprise itself.


Fig. 1 System Design Architecture

System Architecture Design
While designing any Enterprise GIS solution to meet the client’s requirements, the most important factors to be included are: functional module, graphic user interface, downloading time, system performance and the cost of the solution.

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