Stalwarts share vision for geospatial practices

Stalwarts share vision for geospatial practices


Cape Town, South Africa: Opening the Vision Session of Map Africa 2010 with her scintillating discussion on the role of NMOs in national building, Dr Vanessa Lawrence CB, Director General and Chief Executive of Ordnance Survey, United Kingdom, said that just as the whole industry worldwide is changing, customers’ view of geographic information is changing, citizens’ view of location and governments’ use of spatial information in nation building is changing, so is the role of NMOs changing.

With the changing world come challenges like global downturn, climate change, aging population, scarcity of resources, access to education, food security and natural disasters. At the same time, the changing world is pressing us to develop capabilities to collaborate like global social networks, global information platforms and global communications. Simultaneously, technology is changing. Taking the discussion towards the activities of Ordnance Survey, Vanessa said OS underpins over 100 billion pounds of British economy every year with good location data. The location strategy of OS is to create data once and use it several times, to create value to businesses, government organisations and the public alike.

Discussing the latest developments at OS in line with the changing world, Vanessa informed that OS has partnered with about 500 organisations to become the content providers of choice in UK for location-based information in the new information economy, innovated customer-focussed data models and has evolved to be a major contributor to the UK economy.

Vanessa then discussed the dilemma of NMOs on issues of free data Vs charged data, raw data Vs value-added data, maintained data Vs unmaintained data, accessible data Vs unavailable data, data as a product Vs data as a service. She then revealed Ordnance Survey’s strategy in promoting innovation through OS Open Space and GeoVation. She said that a third of mapping assets of OS are now open to citizens for free, underlining a major shift in government thinking.

Dr Joseph Akinyede, Executive Director, African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in English Language (ARCSSTEE), Nigeria, discussed in detail the need to harness the existing space assets in the continent. He said that a few African nations are investing in building space infrastructure to have sufficient and accurate geospatial data benefiting people in their daily life. Though one satellite can help, many countries in the region, except for the countries which own the satellite, are not able to take advantage of this expensive infrastructure due to policy limitations. It is important to build regional infrastructure like low-cost ground stations and encourage cooperation among the countries in the region so that geospatial information is accessible easily. Initiatives like AFREF will improve the access of spatial data across the continent. He also stressed on the need to build capacities and extend the capacities of existing organisations to enable technology transfer. He also recollected the efforts to establish a pan African space agency à la European Space Agency though which several initiatives can be driven for the development of the continent. He concluded by saying that there is a need for regional integration, regional approach to infrastructure and capacity building, put resources together, work together and benefit together as a continent.

Enumerating the latest and future trends in technology, John Sasser, President, Rolta Middle East and Africa discussed ‘3D GIS – It’s a brave new world.’ He said that in today’s cities where all organisations providing governance and utilities are connected, it is important to understand how well these are connected and how well they are sharing data so that their data can be integrated and a model can be evolved. As the future lies in cities, 3D is important to users who are involved in critical applications including cityscape visualisation, safety and emergency planning, real estate and economic development, traffic planning etc. These and many more applications are compelling planners to go for 3D modelling, John said. After stressing the need for 3D, John talked about how, as technology is progressing from paper maps to CADD to 2D GIS to ortho imagery and satellite imagery to oblique imagery and 3D GIS, it is now possible to have a complete visualisation and create data models of the actual reality.  

Mohammed Sadeck Boulahya, Regional Adviser of ClimDevAfrica Framework Programme (GFCS), enumerated the uniqueness of this regional initiative, jointly undertaken by the AUC, AfDB and ECA with political endorsement at the highest level. He said that the programme is responding to climate change challenges to Africa’s development, focussing on climate sensitive sectors like agriculture and food security, water resources, energy and health. The programme also aims to address the need for improved climate information for development in Africa, enhancing the use of such information in decision-making by improving analytical capacity, knowledge management, dissemination activities, capacity building and increasing the resilience of Africa’s population to climate change by enabling effective adaptation activities. He informed that to address the issues related to climate change, the 7th African Development Forum stressed on the need for integration of GIS services.

Source: Our correspondent