In a recent meeting with Thailand’s Prime Minister Pol. Lt. Col. Thaksin Shinawatra, ESRI President Jack Dangermond discussed the role of GIS technology in aiding the Thai government in accomplishing its long-term goals. In his meeting with the Prime Minister, as well as subsequent meetings with various officials and organizations involved in the establishment of a Thai National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), Dangermond expressed his views on the need for data sharing and interoperability between government agencies as well as the development of updating strategies. He indicated that the use of GIS would benefit all of the government’s key projects as the integrated solution for an e-government strategy. In support of education in Thailand, Dangermond recently provided 100 K-12 GIS kits, which include GIS software, a community-teaching guide, and student handbooks, to the country’s Ideal Schools program. Thailand’s Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) is responsible for national standards and infrastructure for GIS, space technology development, remote sensing, and geoinformatics. It is also acting as a clearinghouse for all GIS data in Thailand, particularly government data, in anticipation of the development of the country’s NSDI. The agency is currently working with Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok to create a National GIS Master Plan. It plans to implement a pilot NSDI system this year and to proceed with a nationwide implementation in 2004-2005.
Recently, ESRI awarded a Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI) grant to GISTDA to support the building of a NSDI in Thailand. To date, ESRI has awarded more than 100 GSDI grants, worth approximately $50,000 each, to countries around the world to help them in their development of National Spatial Data Infrastructures. The program also promotes the sharing of geospatial data to further the GSDI movement.