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GIS master plan by GISTDA, Thailand

A national Geographic Information System (GIS) master plan will be endorsed early this year to define the precise functions and scope of relevant public agencies.

Initiated by the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), the master plan is now being developed at Chulalongkorn University and will be passed to the Cabinet for approval when finished, which is expected in February, according to GISTDA Director Dr Suvit Vibulsresth.

Four million Baht would be spent on developing the plan, which would define the functions and scope of the government agencies that will be responsible for the GIS, as well as run the clearinghouse and distributed nodes. Dr Suvit said that to integrate the GIS with e-government, national spatial data infrastructure (NSDI) and the government data infrastructure (GDI) first needed to be set up.

The NSDI comprised an institutional framework, technical standards, fundamental geo-spatial data sets (FGDS), and a data clearinghouse. The GIS master plan aimed to build collaboration between organisations, Dr Suvit said, noting that this would lead to a collaboration network. Under the national plan, the roles, functions, and responsibilities on GIS of each agency would be clear. In order to exchange data, however, a technical standard was needed, he said.

The GIS standard would cover metadata, definitions and a reference standard, along with a data exchange standard. Dr Suvit noted that it should follow the international standard, adding that most digital mapping in Thailand applied the 1:50,000 scale and that this should become the de facto standard. Meanwhile, the plan should define the agency that would carry out the FGDS and fundamental mapping information, and define the FGDS information network, including gateways and distributed nodes. Dr Suvit added that the objective of the clearinghouse was to have a one-stop service for GIS.

The clearinghouse would lead to an information centre and information network service that would serve the Government as an information source for decision-making.

At present, the Prime Minister has assigned the GISTDA, in conjunction with the Royal Thai Survey Department, and the Department of Public Works and Town and Country Planning, to be the major GIS agency for the country.

The GISTDA was also responsible for the GIS of the Prime Minister’s Operations Centre (PMOC), which will be integrated with the National Operation Centre (NOC), the Ministerial Operation Centre (MOC), and the Departmental Operation Centre (DOC).

By the end of 2003, a digital vector map from the Royal Survey Department using a 1:50,000 scale will be completed, while a vector map from the Department of Town and Country Planning for 20 out of 300 locations nationwide will also be ready. In addition, a digital colour orthophoto, to a 1:25,000 scale, will be completed by the Agriculture Ministry in 2004.

Maps on the web

The Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) will launch a web-based map service for the public early this year.

GISTDA’s Geo-informatics Centre director, Dr Surachai Ratanasermpong, told Database that the service was part of the agency’s goal to allow people to retrieve map information electronically.

The online maps will provide fundamental details such as road information, watercourses, scope of districts and provinces, locations of schools, temples, official places, land usage information, and geological information.

“The basic information will be provided free of charge” said Dr Surachai, noting that users have to pay for tailored information such as for business, and they need to have a password in order to access the information.