Geographic Information System (GIS) is coming more into the public arena in the global drive towards good governance and right to information, said Eng. Essa Al Maidour, Assistant Director General of Dubai Municipality for Planning and Building Affairs.
He was speaking during the inauguration of the Map Middle East 2008 conference and exhibition at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre on Tuesday.
He said GIS is essential for governments as nearly 80% of data used in public authorities has some reference to location and is better managed with all data truly located and in context.
‘The implications of any decision on such data are only understood in full when all surrounding, nearby and connected locational details are analyzed properly. The effect of planning, for example, a new road through an existing community cannot be fully comprehended except with use of GIS systems,’ said Al Maidour.
He pointed out that GIS uses many high-order technologies including computer graphics, digital geo-coordinates, satellite imagery and information & communication technology, including relational databases and the world-wide web.
‘Everything is reduced to binary digits zero and one, with geo-referencing added. Now when it comes to use of GIS in the age of Internet, we can apply a lot more imagination in all the aspects of works,’ said Al Maidour.
‘In the countries in our region, due to existence of certain natural resources in abundance and the necessity for planning and managing those resources for effective use and also because of the rapid development, the need for using GIS and remote sensing techniques is critically important. Today, in the Middle East region and especially in cities like Dubai, Geospatial technologies are not only the objectives of governance but are the drivers in the development of the cities themselves. Though there still is a distinct gap between the domains of Geospatial intelligence and Engineering fields, the transformation of the technologies is narrowing the gap and these will further be bridged with more advancements coming,’ he said.
Al Maidour said the governments of the region are seriously adopting GIS technology in daily activities and work processes and training of employees into specific applications for their works is ongoing.
Dr. M P Narayanan, Director of GIS Development, the organisers of the thee-day conference, with the theme, ‘Geospatial Leadership – Technology Trends and Best Practices,’ delivered the welcome address.
The inaugural session of the fourth Map Middle East conference was also addressed by Preetha Pulusani, Joint Managing Director, Rolta India Ltd, General Khalid Abdullah Bu-Ainain, Former Commander of UAE Air Force and Air Defence and Roger Hoglund, Director, Monitoring & Special Survey Applications, Trimble, Germany. Eng. Mohammed Al Zaffin, Director of GIS Department at Dubai Municipality delivered the vote of thanks.
The plenary session on geospatial technology was addressed by Dean P Angelides, Manager, International Sales and Operations, ESRI, USA, Marc Tremblay, Vice President and Head, Commercial Business Unit, DigitalGlobe, USA, and Norikazu Wantanabe, Managing Director, Sokkia, Singapore.
The second plenary session of the first day on geospatial policies was addressed by Prof. Harlan Onsurd, Executive Director, GSDI Association, USA, Prof. Fraser Taylor of the Carleton University of Canada, Stig Enemark, President, International Federation of Surveyors, Denmark, Prof. Mike Jackson, Director, Centre for Geospatial Science, Nottingham University, London and Derek Clarke, Chief Director, Survey and Mapping, Department of Land Affairs, South Africa.