Government policy, applied research, commercialization…

Jun 2008 | Comments Off on Government policy, applied research, commercialization…

Dr. Robert A. Ryerson, Chanchai Peanvijarnpong

Comparative analysis of Thailand’s successful national program in remote sensing

Satellite remote sensing has been used to varying degrees around the
world for over three decades. Over that time the degree to which the technology has been applied has varied greatly from country to country – from being broadly embraced to being used hardly at all. Simply stated, where remotely sensed data and related geospatial data are used in a limited fashion the full economic and social value of the data for resource evaluation, sustainable resource management, and environmental protection is not realized. This paper examines the key factors that appear to be associated with varying use of the data and consequent derivation of benefits. At one time it was thought that this use was related to the economic situation within a country or the quality of training and education. While these factors are of course important, this work isolates other factors as being equally if not more important. These factors include data policy, approaches to commercialization, the level of applied research and links to “real” users. This paper explores the importance of these other factors with special reference to data policy in Thailand and Canada.



In the examination of why some remote sensing programs in less developed countries were more successful than others Ryerson and Quiroga (2000) suggested that a number of factors come into play. In a review of over 200 projects around the world it was found that successful projects seem to share the operational characteristics outlined in Table 1. Experience has also shown that if tangible results are expected it is critical to involve the potential community of end users through self-sustaining institutions very early in the design stage.
While this work seemed to explain the level of success at the project level, and while it helped explain some of the level of success at the national level, there were situations at the national level that did not appear to be explainable solely on the basis of these factors. The remainder of this paper addresses these factors.

The importance of data policy

We have been involved in detailed studies of geospatial and remote sensing data policy in general and specifically in the USA, Europe, Australia, Canada and Thailand. In a land mark comparative study of data policy in Canada, the USA, and Australia, our team found (Sears 2001) that cost recovery policies adversely affected the level of use of geospatial data. Furthermore, we found an inverse relationship between the levels of cost recovery fees charged and the growth of the geospatial industry. While this study has resulted in a reduction in cost recovery for base-layers of geospatial map information in Canada (and in Australia), it has had limited or no impact on the high cost of remote sensing data in Canada where the study was done. Canada seems to have adopted a low-volume high-cost model for remote sensing data and by so doing has had an impact on several areas, including data use, development of valueadded industry, and the derivation of benefits from widespread data use. With our findings a data policy framework was developed (Ryerson 2005). The essential elements of that policy believed to be relevant to data use are summarized in the early paper by Ryerson, and are available from the author.

The framework was subsequently applied and modified somewhat for Thailand in a September 2006 Workshop held in Bangkok hosted by the GeoInformatics and Space Technology Development Agency (Public Organization) (GISTDA) of Thailand and Kim Geomatics Corporation of Canada.


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