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Geography goes online in Taiwan

Taiwan’s geographic information system is moving to integrate the resources of government, the private sector and the general public.

In a recent two-day conference and three-day exhibition featuring booths showcasing the work of 88 government agencies and 24 private and academic organizations, GIS on show included a climate database managed by the Central Weather Bureau, a rescue dispatch system operated by the National Fire Administration and a patrol and management system used in Yangmingshan National Park. Examples of systems on display demonstrate how computer hardware, software, satellite images and Web sites link together, allowing data to be quickly processed and shared between organizations and even the general public via the Internet.

Chunghwa Telecom featured its online “yellow pages” system at the exhibition.

“Our `hiPage’ search engine was developed over several years and finally launched last year. This system allows the public to look up phone numbers and find maps for business addresses quickly,” said Chao Chia-hui, a researcher for Chunghwa Telecom’s Electronic Map Application Project. “NGIS infrastructure planning has been promoted in developed countries such as the UK, France, Germany, the US, Japan and Australia, while the interior ministry also established an NGIS unit in 1980 to encourage its development in Taiwan,” said Chien Tai-lang, an administrative vice interior minister. According to Chien, the Executive Yuan approved the development plan for NGIS infrastructure in 1997 and the six-year plan has been in force since July 1998. “This year marks the sixth and last year of the first stage of the plan, and so far we have implemented 32 sub-plans, set up basic infrastructure using information databases shared by central and local governments and private groups,” said Chien.

Chien added that because the NGIS strategy is proceeding in tandem with the Challenge 2008 National Development Program, the second stage of the plan will aim to sharpen Taiwan’s competitive edge in the international community.

“By utilizing advances in information technology to effectively promote digital content service for industry, the NGIS will increase operational efficiency of government agencies, as well as benefiting the public with quick and accurate information,” said Chien.