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‘Saudi Arabia lacks framework for NSDI’

Saudi Arabia: In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), there is lack of knowledge and no clear framework describing the optimal way for stakeholders, users, providers or administrators, to collaborate effectively in establishing a National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). Moreover, the complex, multi-layer and multi-jurisdiction system of government leads to competing interests and mandates in coordinating spatial activity, observed, Saad Abdulrahman F Alshehri, a researcher at the University of Nottingham.

Through the paper, National Spatial Data Infrastructure Collaboration for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the researcher explained that there are four types of organisation in KSA dealing with spatial data: public sector or government, private sector, academic, and also a category classed as ‘other’, which do not fit any of the other three types. According to a survey response by the researcher, the majority, approximately 67 percent of the spatial data organisations surveyed were considered public sector or government organisations, while private sector spatial data organisations comprised only 21 percent. By far the fewest were academic bodies involved in spatial data, and organisations classified under “other” or utilities by respondents, at around 8 percent and 4 percent of spatial data organisations respectively.


 Types of spatial data organisation 

The research work also includes recommendations. Some of the recommendations include:
– Issue a Royal decree endorsing the system for Saudi NSDI, including a specific vision and objectives, and the procedure for spatial data exchange at national, regional and city 238 levels. This system would specifically prohibit duplication among government organisations.
– This Royal decree and the accompanying system must cancel/repeal all prior decrees and powers regarding spatial data that had vested responsibility in organisations, with this system taking their place.
– The system must strictly define the powers given to each organization, and its area of work in spatial data to prevent duplication.
– The Royal decree and system must include formation of a committee for NSDI, which is linked to the committee of experts at the Council of Ministers, and under it subcommittees in each region that are linked administratively to the Regional Governor (Emir) in each region, in order to derive authority from that of the Regional Governor (Emir) directly. As for the national NSDI committee, its authority is derived from its semi-direct link to the Prime Minister’s Office. These committees may be considered to be responsible for implementing the system, and issuing the executive policies concerning the system, and distributing it to all concerned bodies.
– Appoint committee members from public and private sector bodies, as well as academia, to participate in the NSDI committees at national and regional levels.
– Develop a unified Saudi code for spatial data systems with management and technical policies, specifications and standards, which are disseminated to all bodies concerned with spatial data to facilitate efficient exchange and transfer of spatial data to users, regardless of differing systems and applications. The code should define framework data and metadata using ISO standards, particularly ISO 19103, 19107, 19109-12, 19123, 19136 for framework data and ISO 19115 and 19119 for metadata.

Source: University of Nottingham