Singapore: Industry stalwarts shared their concluding remarks on SDI at the closing plenary of the 12th World Conference of Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Association held in Singapore with David Coleman, President Elect, GSDI Association as the moderator.
Hiroshi Murakami, Vice President, PCGIAP (Japan) gave an overview of UN initiatives on Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM) in his keynote “A Global Vision for Spatially Enabling Society.” Murakami informed that the aim is to enhance and coordinate a formal mechanism for cooperation. There is a need for an official mechanism to link policy decisions of member states, he said, adding that this should be viewed as an opportunity rather than competition with other initiatives. The aim is to address cross border issues, coordinate regional efforts and get policymakers’ support. According to Murakami, UN gives the best environment for such coordination through the strong support from the UN Secretariat. Technology is there for sharing but cooperation framework is missing. The Global Mapping Project was initially spearheaded by Japan but now has more than 150 members as a result of the UN intervention. The issues under consideration are key global issues, changing role of the government, legal and institutional barriers and best practices. He also referred to the first meeting of the UN Forum on GGIM in Seoul, South Korea.
Reflecting on the conference, Ian Williamson, Professor, University of Melbourne noted that emphasis was on being relevant and user driven and addressing social needs. Complete and rich datasets have arrived, SDI has become critical infrastructure, spatial is now mainstream and spatial applications are being unleashed through innovation. In his opinion, the GSDI vision is location, innovation and collaboration. The challenges are to take spatial hierarchy from local to global, institutional catch-up, overcoming the culture of not sharing data and integrating natural and cadastral environment. This is to be achieved by enabling all societies, cloud sourcing and recognising the roles of government, industry and wider society in the regulatory framework. The answer to the question ‘who pays’ has to be found. According to Ian, there is a need to understand and explain ‘spatial enablement.’ The dimensions of spatial enablement encompass use of location devices and services, cadastre and street addresses for government, sensor networks with analysis and integration technology focus on natural resources and cadastral environment. Further, he opined that spatial enablement involves addressing the entire government ubiquitously and transparently using transformational technology like high integrity street address, GPS, SDI integration, discovery and visualisation. The need is to manage information spatially and not manage spatial information. As an example, he gave the outline of a possible Spatial Enablement in Action in terms of a global financial early warning system.
Greg Scott, Geoscience, Australia, in his note on Reflections on the conference raised the question “how to realise spatially enabled societies?” The current situation is that we are globally aware and data is rich and continuing to grow. However, users needs more than data. They need more accountability and evidence-based decisions and probity. SDI capabilities cannot be ignored and this will lead to institutional acceptance. Both top-down and bottom up implementations are necessary driven by real needs, requirements and outcomes. Realisation is there, so is promise, according to him, but we are not there yet. A window of opportunity is open and barriers are breaking down. Greg expressed optimism that the government will realise and facilitate spatially-enabled society. It will not be a ‘one size fits all’ solution. The barriers to SDI are cost, complexity and organisational issues.
These presentations were followed by the reports of the committees. Conference awards to sponsors and exhibitors were distributed, followed by awards for the best posters. De Alan Stevens was presented the Exemplary Service award. Brian Chew, Vice President, Singapore Land Authority and Abbas Rajabifard, President, GSDI Association delivered the closing takeaway messages, including understanding user needs and crowd sourcing as a data source. The key lesson learnt was “start small act fast.”
With 650 participants from 67 countries, this conference was a success in terms of attendance, content and excellent clockwork precision in execution.
Source: Our correspondent