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Brunei eyes wider use of GIS in government departments

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, 30 November 2006 – Brunei’s Minister of Development Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Awang Abdullah bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar speaking on the occasion of World GIS Day celebration yesterday called upon Government agencies to adopt Geographical Information System (GIS) technologies, which are not only convenient and cost-effective but can also lead to increased production and efficiency in planning, policy-making and administration.

The event, organised by the Survey Department, also coincided with the launching of the Brunei Darussalam Mukim and Kampong Boundaries Guidebook.

“The main function of the World GIS Day is to enhance our understanding of how GIS technologies can transform our lives … Every year, more than 70 countries observe this occasion, and this year Brunei Darussalam is taking part in the celebration for the first time,” the minister noted.

He pointed out the many benefits and uses of GIS, including determining resource use, land use planning and identifying the best measures for sustainable development. “Brunei needs to identify how to promote the widespread use of GIS in all the relevant disciplines.”

This includes updating the mapping system in Brunei. GIS can be utilised to produce the latest, up-to-date and detailed maps of the country, the minister added, and the Survey Department and related agencies should take advantage of the available GIS technologies, such as Google Earth to capture, store, analyse and update their geomatic data.

The Survey Department had in fact already employed GIS to produce the guidebook. Surveyor General Haji Mohd Jamil bin Haji Mohd Ali in his welcoming speech said that GIS represents the latest mapping technology utilised by the Survey Department. Since its establishment in 1952, the department has revolutionised its map products from conventional map grants in the 1950s to the conventional map series in the 1960s and 1970s. It was only in the 1980s that digital mapping was introduced when the use of computers first became widespread in the country.

Pehin Haji Abdullah commended the department for successfully publishing the book, which would prove useful in planning for sustainable land use development, more efficient and effective administration, and the compilation of more comprehensive population census. “The guidebook can also be used as a tool for reference, research and education across the nation,” he added.

The minister also related the process of setting the boundaries of the mukims and villages as depicted in the book. He said that in addition to holding dialogues, the Survey Department had also made frequent field trips to the mukims and villages and consulted with the mukim and village heads.