‘Surveyors are getting lucrative offers in Vietnam’

‘Surveyors are getting lucrative offers in Vietnam’


Viet Nam government is investing approximately USD 60 million in cadastral mapping. Prof. Dr. Dang Hung Vo explains what it means for surveyors.

Prof. Dr. Dang Hung Vo
Prof. Dr. Dang Hung Vo
President, Vietnam Association of Geodesy, Cartography and Remote Sensing, Vietnam

Viet Nam government is investing approximately USD 60 million in cadastral mapping. Prof. Dr. Dang Hung Vo explains what it means for surveyors.

What are mandates and activities of Vietnam Association for Geodesy, Cartography and Remote Sensing (VGCR)?
Vietnam Association of Geodesy, Cartography and Remote Sensing (VGCR) was formed in 1989, on the occasion of 30th anniversary of the State Department for Survey and Mapping. During that time, the Vietnam Government had approved an important programme on technological innovation in surveying and mapping. The programme aimed to digitise surveying and mapping process. It also provided opportunities in surveying and mapping industry of Vietnam and led to the idea of a professional association of surveyors, which is now operating as a non-government organisation and known as the VGCR. The VGCR is an association of professionals who work in the fields of geodesy, cartography, remote-sensing, geo-information, etc.

The first congress of VGCR was organised in December 1989, in which the first resolution on VGCR’s mandate and activities was adopted. Some of the key mandates of VGCR include: (i) popularisation of surveying and mapping profession, products and its application in society; (ii) providing social reviews on strategy, development planning, programmes, projects, etc. in the field of survey and mapping; (iii) cooperation with international organisations to develop surveying and mapping industry; (iv) facilitation of people’s right on geo-spatial information access, firstly for VGCR’s members.

The VGCR is also involved in several activities such as: (i) issuing magazine of survey and mapping, and other publications to deliver geo-information; (ii) organising international and domestic workshops, seminars, conferences in the field of geo-science and technology; (iii) supplying short-term training courses on new technologies as well as new concepts of management.

VGCR was established in 1989. How do you see the growth of the geospatial industry in Vietnam over these years – from then to now? What have been the factors influencing the geospatial industry?
Over 23 years of development since 1989, the geospatial industry of Vietnam has had a great achievement based on application of GNSS, remote sensing and GIS to produce geospatial data. Some of its achievements include:

1) The national coordinates network including 12,000 geodetic points from ‘0’ order to 3rd order was constructed based on National Geodetic Reference System VN-2000. It has been connected to International GPS Service network (IGS).

2) The digital topographic maps at the scales 1:1,000,000, 1:500,000, 1:250,000, 1:100,000 and 1:50,000 covering whole country were completed. Digital topographic maps at the scale 1:10,000 covering whole country and at the scale 1:5,000 and 1:2,000 covering urban areas are implementing. Marine hydrographic charts system at scale 1:250,000 is being re-edited on the basis of available marine charts and survey. Seabed topographic map system at the scale 1:50,000 is being implemented in coastal zone. Cadastral records including cadastral books and maps and real property certificates are completed at about 70 percent of total land parcels, in which 70 percent are made in digital form.

3) Satellite Receiving Ground Station regularly receives SPOT and EnviSat satellite images to ensure enough geo-data for monitoring natural resources and environment. Surveying and mapping technology has been completely changed into digital generation in both State and private sectors.

4) The first version of geographic data standards, cadastral data standards and land registration standards was already completed and approved.

Apart from these achievements, I don’t see brilliant work through components of National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) in framing policy, helping organisation-institution, improving geospatial data access and building partnership.

VGCR supports professional activities of surveying and mapping. Can you brief us about some major surveying and mapping initiatives in Vietnam?
At present, everyday we see innovation in surveying and mapping technologies. The correct selection of technological solutions is an important thing which strongly impacts cost and time. VGCR provides international experiences to professionals. In 2008, during the summer school on new geo-spatial technology and in 2010, during the FIG regional conference, VGCR had organised workshops for professionals.

Does Vietnam have adequate resources in terms of technology and manpower to meet these requirements? What kind of support does it get to meet these requirements?
Of course, technological and human resources play an important role in the development of geo-spatial industry. I can say that the labour force of Vietnam surveying is enough for requirement in the past and at present. In current time, there are about 5,000 surveyors, working throughout Vietnam, in topographic and cadastral survey, in which about 3,000 of them work in private sector. We have two universities which provide training in surveying and mapping at graduated and post-graduated level. There are the Technical University of Mining and Geology in Hanoi and Polytechnics in Ho Chi Minh City.

Regarding the technological resources, since 1990 with application of Trimble’s solution for GPS and ESRI’s solution for GIS, Viet Nam is applying digital technologies of surveying and mapping. At present, both private as well as government agencies have embraced GNSS technology. In addition, even labour force in Viet Nam is using GIS software.

Vietnam is a fast growing economy not just in South East Asia but globally too. How can surveyors and surveying contribute towards the development of the country?
Vietnam is not only developing country but also transitional economy country. But private sector is making less investment in geospatial business and surveying activities in Viet Nam. So far only State Government has made investment in surveying. Certainly, this type of contributions is very limited, causing a difficulty in building a society spatially enabled.

Given the importance of the surveying activity, how can the profession be made more lucrative? What are VGCR’s own initiatives in this direction?
In the past, Vietnam economy was operating as the State’s subsidy system, in which all surveyors were working only for the government and surveying profession was not so lucrative. In 1986, the State of Vietnam decided to go for the ‘Renovation’ process along with private sector, which has made the surveying profession quite lucrative. Surveyors got lucrative offers especially for construction surveying and cadastral surveying. After that, surveyors working for State’s sector also were also offered higher salary because of the ‘value law’ in the market economy.

In this context, VGCR has had activities to support surveyors which work in private sector and private surveying enterprises. These supports have been focused on supplying documents of technological solutions, international experiences and also information about State’s projects of geospatial data production.

VGCR is a non-government organisation. How is the government support in Vietnam towards geospatial activities and facilitating the uptake of geospatial technology in the country?
In general, Vietnam Government has had a great investment for geospatial industry development. During the period 1991 – 2000, the cost for changing surveying and mapping technology from analogical to digital generation was fully covered by State’s budget. From 1994 to now, Vietnam Government has spent a considerable fund from State’s budget for building cadastral maps and records in land management. At present, annual funding for cadastral works of whole country from the State’s budget is at the level of USD 60 million. In 2008, the first ground station for receiving satellite images which was invested by the French ODA has started on operation. At present, a project on building the national CORS (Continuous Operating Reference Stations) network and the national terrestrial reference frame, linked to the ITRF (International Terrestrial Reference Frame).

However, the concept of the geo-spatial technology uptake in communities would be evaluated as poorly regarded. The geo-spatial technology in Vietnam is deeply applied in State’s sector but not largely applied by people. We can see that is one of considerable disadvantages of the geo-spatial data infrastructure development in Vietnam.

According to you, which are the key verticals in the country using geospatial technology? How is the uptake in the private sector?
As presented above, Vietnam Government has spent a lot of money from State’s budget for producing geospatial data but almost all these data are still archived in competent State’s agencies without update and without sharing mechanism. I think the key verticals of using and developing geospatial technology in Vietnam are as follows:

  1. To create a mechanism of free or low-cost access to geo-spatial data which have been produced by State’s sector.
  2. To issue a preferential policy on geospatial services providing for enterprises, firstly for private business.
  3. To promote the education for young generation, high quality training of human resources and raising public awareness about the benefits of using spatial information and spatial information services.

I am sure that these ways will cause an easy uptake of geo-spatial usage in the private sector.

Vietnam has embarked on a major programme on modernisation of land management system. What are the benefits of an effective land administration system for Vietnam? How is the same being achieved?
The Vietnam State’s programme on modernisation of land management system was started in 1987 based on 5 keys components: the first is land legislation, the second is land use planning, the third is land administration, the fourth is land finance, and the fifth is management technology. The process improving these components has got good achievements step by step since then. From the practical experiences, it is very clearly seen that an effective land administration is bringing the following benefits:

  1. Effectiveness of land use is increased;
  2. There is more transparency and publicity in order to reduce land corruption and land speculation;
  3. More security for the rights and tenure on land for land users is ensured;
  4. The informal part of the real estate market is reduced more and more; and
  5. People’s disputes, complaints and denunciations are well settled.

VGCR has been involved in the establishment of spatial data infrastructure (SDI) in Vietnam. What is the current status of the SDI in Vietnam? What are the challenges faced?
Vietnam has not had a policy on NSDI development according to the concept of unified infrastructure. Among the components of NSDI, Vietnam has just focused on dataset component only; standards component has been initiated; technology component is not yet synchronised; and other components are limited in implementation.

At present, the World Bank in cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment provides a study on strategy of NSDI development for Vietnam. The vision of Vietnam NSDI is defined in this study as: ‘Take advantage of benefit from using spatial data infrastructure to attract participation of community in NSDI development in order to bring more benefits to each user, each locality, whole Vietnam in spatial linkage with regions and the whole world. The goal of ‘Spatially Enabled Governments and Societies’ that has been shown in the UN Declaration from Kuala Lumpur is to be become the goal of NSDI development of Vietnam. The State plays leading role in the process of NSDI development through promulgating policy, legislation and ensuring financial investment for fundamental infrastructure to encourage non-state sectors’ investment for value-added services and for what the State isn’t doing. For now, the State plays a dominant role in investment, but for the future, State’s investment will be replaced step by step with growth of non-state sectors’ contribution’.

Of course, VGCR will play the role of a organisational reviewer for the results of this study before a MoNRE’s acceptance. Challenges for Vietnam NSDI are as follows:

  1. Leaders at central level are not yet ready to make decision on policies and strategies for NSDI development in Vietnam. To get approval from the government for strategy and master plan, issuance of legal documents and policies takes a lot of time.
  2. Ministries are used to the concept of power monopoly, in which there is information monopoly. Agencies responsible to archiving and managing information do not support. They do not share and make information available at large scale for public.
  3. All spatial data are adequate and accurate but not updated. In order to develop a timely updated system, it takes enough time and huge efforts from several parties.
  4. At present, there is no specialised geospatial portal for delivery and sharing of geospatial data.
  5. There is no policy, which could encourage enterprises and people to participate in collecting and delivery of geospatial services.
  6. There is no focus on human resources development and raising public awareness about geospatial technology.
  7. NSDI needs fund but current financial fund is not enough to fulfil demands, especially it is difficult to mobilise capital from community.
  8. Framework spatial data is managed centrally in MoNRE. In this context, monopoly mechanism in spatial data management may hamper development of NSDI.

VGCR is a member of the International Cartographic Association that works towards ensuring that geospatial information is employed to maximum effect for the benefit of science and society. How do you think that the use of geospatial information can be deployed to maximum benefits in Vietnam? What can contribute to the growth of the geospatial industry in Vietnam?
Of course, in Vietnam as well as in all over world, we can list number of benefits of geospatial information and that is reason we have NSDI.

  • NSDI is a large spatial data resource, which can help in developing a model of real world. Furthermore, people and authorities can use such models to check current status of development works in their surrounding. They also do risk assessment and take right steps towards better future.
  • By providing spatial data, NSDI can accelerate development of knowledge-based economy.
  • NSDI is an important data infrastructure for developing and strengthening e-governance with an objective to bring transparency in administrative system.
  • NSDI facilitates people to join hands to ensure sustainable development, implement the Agenda 21 and millennium development goal, and cope with climate change.
  • NSDI can help in preventing overlapping of investment. It can also ensure economical geospatial data production and enhance information resources.
  • NSDI provides a platform to people to update, manage, access and exploit data in principle of ensuring spatial data resources more and more adequately, accurately and timely.

To maximise these benefits, the NSDI development process in Vietnam should be concentrated on the new theme of geospatial data uses which was recently defined by the UN (2012). The theme is ‘Spatial Enablement of Governments and Societies’.