Spatial Data Infrastructure for smart cities - NSDI Oman

    Spatial Data Infrastructure for smart cities – NSDI Oman

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    The objective of creating a smart city through proper planning of utilities and infrastructure can’t be achieved unless a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) is established, says Saleem Bin Abdullah Al Hashmi, Director of Geospatial Information, National Survey Authority, Ministry of Defence, Oman

    Could you elaborate on the mission of the National Survey Authority? What is your involvement in defence-related projects?

    The National Survey Authority’s (NSD) mission is to establish and enforce standards for topographic surveys and to manage and maintain the national archive of geographic materials; and further, to revise and provide maps, air charts and other geographic information for the Sultanates Ministries to enable them to carry out their function of government, and other users within the Sultanate.

    The Directorate of Geospatial Information (DGI) is responsible for ― ensuring agreed priorities and standards are achieved; maintaining and updating the national mapping programs and the national geospatial database infrastructure; producing maps and digital geospatial products to meet the diverse needs of government and private sector customers; maintaining the national geodetic datum, national geoid model, and national CORS network.

    Oman SDI will enable data sharing and exchange via a robust, secure, scalable and state-of-the-art environment between different registered parties

    Oman SDI will enable data sharing and exchange via a robust, secure, scalable and state-of-the-art environment between different registered parties

    Which are your major national projects and what is the progress so far?

    The Oman National Geodetic Datum 2014 (ONGD14) was established in 2014 with the objective of enhancing national geodetic control was to create a homogenous horizontal survey control for the country.

    Year 2016 has been important for us — from January onwards, Esri-based vector data and printed maps are available for use and purchase within the Sultanate; this topographic mapping is at 1:50,000 and 1:100,000 scale.

    We have also published the Oman Road Atlas 2016; it represents an official and comprehensive guide to the Sultanate. Our Oman Geospatial Manual (OGM) presents policy and guidelines for surveying and the creation of geospatial data, as well as defining the national standards and specification for surveying and geospatial data creation.

    The Oman National Geoid Model (ONGM) — enables to establish a modern height system, so that the ellipsoidal heights measured from GNSS can be converted into orthometric heights through a geoid model, which is a close representation of earth’s surface. We are also working on Oman National CORS Network (ONCN); it is the network of continuous operating reference stations (CORS) that continuously records GPS signals and provide organizations, within the country, real time as well as post-processing positioning capabilities using single GPS receivers (Rover). Both projects are in the last stage of execution process.

    What is the status of Oman SDI and how will it benefit the country?

    Oman SDI is being governed by the Directorate General of National Spatial Data Infrastructure in strategic partnership with NSA. As of now, the logical and conceptual data model has been finalized, metadata profile is approved, and data ownership report has been published and agreed by all the stakeholders. Once established, Oman SDI will enable data sharing and exchange via a robust, secure, scalable and state-of-the-art environment between different registered parties. Also the users in government entities can access, download and upload the spatial data via developed and published GeoPlatform.

    Smart city is a buzz word these days. What initiatives have been taken in Oman in this field?

    It is still a new concept in Oman. The need of smart city is being discussed on various national and international platforms and in various forums and exhibitions. It has been identified that the objective of creating a smart city through proper planning of utilities and infrastructure can’t be achieved unless a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) is established.

    NSA is fully committed to offering its expertise and service in creation of the nation SDI. It has worked out a strategic partnership with the custodian of Oman SDI and playing a pivotal role in its periodic evaluation.

    What priority areas do you think need attention first for building smart cities? And what is the role of land administration in this?

    Smart city concept requires an operational SDI which is directly linked to the availability of geospatial data. There should be a common basemap for data creation; all data created must use same standard and specification, otherwise we may end up producing redundant and spaghetti data.

    In the present scenario, a non-spatial oracle database is used by the Land Registry Secretariat and Land Department. The survey department uses a spatial SQL server database to produce the title site plan for the newly planned areas. The integration of these two databases is in Esri environment, so as to encourage an effective land administration in Oman.

    What role do you foresee for geospatial and ICT tools in achieving faster and more efficient results for building smart cities?

    Location is a common language of smart cities and hence a location platform i.e. a GIS-based technology platform has to form its backbone from the very beginning including for ICT planning and deployment. A centralized information system based on GIS provides an IT framework which integrates every aspect of a smart city — starting from conceptualization, planning and development to maintenance. Smart planning, transparency in governance, smart energy, smart infrastructure, smart buildings, smart devices disposal and smart web based applications and e-services are some of the key components of any smart city.

    What are your views about open data? Is your data open for other government departments and public to use freely?

    NSA has reviewed some of the open data available on Internet like the Global Map Data and the OpenStreetData. These data are available at very small scale and can only help in understanding a rough topography of a country.

    We have created our own data which is available to all educational and research institutes, ministries and government organizations as well to the public companies. However, it is not hosted online for everyone to download and use. We have sought active participation in international programs such as Global Map Data and we also supply national level data as required.