NMOs: Adaptation strategies

Oct 2013 | No Comment

National Mapping Organizations (NMOs) are positioning themselves vis-à-vis the aspirations of the citizens of their nations. Why and how? Heads of NMOs explain

There will always be a requirement for authoritative data

Dr Vanessa Lawrence CB

Ordnance Survey Director General and Chief Executive, UK

Over the last decade we have witnessed a number of significant developments which have affected and changed the global geospatial industry. The two biggest drivers to this change have been advances in technologies and the global recognition of the power of mapping information. Today, thanks to advances in technology, geospatial data is being used extensively across the globe by businesses, governments, developers and individuals to drive efficiencies, underpin decision making, support growth and to help tackle global issues, including sustainability and resource management. The expansion of the Internet and advances in mobile technology has opened up digital mapping to the masses. The growth of consumer familiarity, coupled with the recognition from businesses and governments, has been overwhelming and has resulted in increased demand for even more products, services and applications underpinned by geospatial information.

Today there are thousands of businesses, organisations and individuals operating in the geospatial information industry, helping to attract new ‘non-traditional’ customers through a range of innovative products, services and applications. We work in a thriving industry, which has resulted in an explosion of data from a range of sources including, national mapping authorities, international companies, SMEs and open source enthusiast, all providing the customer with unprecedented levels of choice. At Ordnance Survey, we design all our products and services around the customer; they are at the centre of everything we do. Our challenge has been to make sure that Ordnance Survey’s products and services meet the needs of all our current and future users. Ordnance Survey is renowned for our data capture and maintenance operations, and we continue to invest in this area, both in technology and people, to ensure that our products and services are underpinned by accurate and trusted data. We have also structured the organisations to ensure that we can meet, and exceed, the expectations and needs of our many diverse customers.

We therefore operate across the consumer, business, government and developer sectors, which all have their own demands and specific requirements. Our focus is to listen to these groups and gain insight to help drive our future product developments and identify new markets that could benefit from geospatial information; we also encourage them to be involved in our development phases and to give us regular feedback.

Examples of Ordnance Survey meeting our changing customer demands include the release of a range of digital mapping services for the leisure industry, including an online portal for the outdoors and two new mobile applications, which complement our traditional paper maps that are still sold to over two million people per year. Within the business and government sectors we have continued to enhance our flagship product, OS MasterMap, with the release of new intelligent layers including functional sites and river networks. We have recently worked with an individual customer to develop bespoke rail networks to support their operations. Within the developer community we focus on releasing data and tools to support new users looking to innovate with geospatial information. For example, we have recently released a new 3D Terrain model, a range of vector datasets, a software development toolkit to help developers use Ordnance Survey data within their apps and further enhanced our popular API known as OS OpenSpace.

We also understand that we cannot meet all the customer demands alone and therefore work with over 300 partners who add value to our data and who produce many products and services to a diverse range of market segments and households. In addition, we have created an innovation network, GeoVation, which supports new geography based ventures to develop ideas.

This is an exciting time for the geospatial industry, which is providing customers with a huge amount of choice. I strongly feel that there will always be a requirement for authoritative data, even though ever increasingly it will be exposed to the customer in many different ways, and believe that national mapping authorities can work alongside private organisation and open source providers to meet the changing needs of the customer.

Vital role in providing accurate data

Datuk Prof Sr Dr Abdul Kadir Bin Taib

Director General of Survey and Mapping Malaysia

The requirements and expectations of citizens are rapidly changing with time and becoming more complex due to improved educational levels and various information avenues available to them. As a result, they are more knowledgeable and discerning in their choice of services. The NMOs in Malaysia namely; Department of Survey and Mapping Malaysia (JUPEM), will continue to play its vital role in providing the most accurate and reliable geospatial information for the citizens through Geoportal and Malaysia Geospatial Data Infrastructure (MyGDI). JUPEM is the main provider of geospatial information for other agencies and geospatial users in this country. Most government agencies are able to obtain the departmental data at no cost. We also intend to increase the awareness and trust among geospatial data providers to share their accurate and updated information easily and freely among government agencies. As for other than government agencies, all departmental data are made available to the public via the Geoportal / MyGDI for only at a nominal charge. Such charges are required to prevent misuse of the data provided. We believe that abuse of the system and data will occur once we allow unlimited access and usage, which will inevitably, slows down the system. Departmental records indicate that the geospatial information is mostly used for development projects and as such its cost is only fractional compared to the project cost.

JUPEM is therefore supporting the growth of the geospatial industry. Within the next five years we anticipate that the sharing of data will become more open and applications developed to support seamless integration between the various land  related agencies to provide users with the utmost geospatial information. More geospatial experts will be needed to support this industry both in the government and the private sector. In future, we will see the geospatial industry moving into a ubiquitous environment where geospatial information is blended into every industry. In the next 10 years:

i) Widespread use of geospatial data in almost all
government and private sector especially towards Malaysia
becoming a developed country in the year 2020;

ii) Web map will be used in daily moving
and traveling for the citizens;

iii) Geospatial subject will be taught at the
primary classes in schools;

iv) There will be a complete database that includes cadastral
data, mapping data, utility data and marine data;

v) Geospatial industry will be powered by the
private sector including in the area of GIS, GPS,
utility mapping and marine mapping; and

vi) New geospatial products will be available due to the
fast development and integration of technologies.

In conclusion, our aim is to connect the geospatial community
with the non-geospatial community in order to be Spatially
Enabled Government and Society in the year 2020.

It is important to keep our maps updated

Hiroshi Murakami

Director General, Planning Department, Geospatial Information Authority, Japan

I value the activities of citizens on geospatial information as they have been expanding the envelope of geospatial applications in the country. Although our roles are different, I consider those people as co-workers, complementing each other in disseminating geospatial applications/ services to the society. At the same time, they are also customers of our products and services and it is important for us to capture their voices. In this connection, our organization is actively involved in listening to their voices through emails as well as interviewing/sending questionnaires to them in order to better serve our customers. When we find it necessary, some of our employees set up a customer-satisfaction research team in an ad hoc basis, to do research on user needs of our products and services. The results are analyzed and fed back to the operational offices for future improvements. By continuing these efforts, I believe people will appreciate our products and services while enjoying different types of geospatial contents developed and provided by citizens.

One of the user needs we have found important is to keep our maps updated, particularly for man-made features including roads. Most cars in the country are equipped with a sophisticated car navigation system, and people now frequently look up maps on their mobile devices, which makes people increasingly intolerant on outdated maps. To meet such a need, our organization has been incorporating CAD data that was prepared for road construction planning by the road management authority, so that the newly built primary roads will show up on our web map on the very day they are made open for the public use.

Another need is to integrate our web map data into their applications. In order to meet the need, we now allow them to get direct access to our web map data for their applications, free of charge. This provision has led many venders to develop new applications that employ our web map data on the web, PCs, tablets and smart phones, and has enhanced the user accessibility to our data. A new award for those applications that use our data has also been set up to encourage the venders to develop useful applications. The information on the awarded applications is posted on our website to recognize the achievements. We have also been improving the user interface of our web map service by allowing the users to draw additional features on the map and export them for data sharing.

Also, we have been making efforts to meet a need from experts. As for surveying, the real-time information from our 1,240 GNSS receiving stations has greatly enhanced the efficiency of geodetic surveys and machine control for construction. We now allow surveyors, based on their request, to employ GNSS on the establishment of benchmarks in remote areas where accurate level survey will be costly and take much time.

By responding to these needs of individuals including experts, I am confident that our organization will be able to continually provide stable and trustworthy services that have been and will be appreciated by many individuals and organizations including those citizens with latest technologies and equipment.

*The views expressed here are personal opinion of Dr Murakami

Surveyor should deliver geospatial products at a faster rate

Prof Peter Chigozie Nwilo

The Surveyor General of the Federation, Nigeria

Effective Physical Planning, Urban and Regional Development projects would be impossible to implement without current and accurate maps in the right quantity, quality and format. This is because all the sectors and sub-sectors are map dependent, without which the objectives would not be realized.

Essentially, the primary assignments of the Office of The Surveyor General of the Federation (OSGOF) are:

• Provision of requisite geo-information in right quantity, quality and format in almost real time for National development and other stakeholders.

• Delineation, Demarcation and maintenance of interstate and international boundaries.

• Co-ordination and harmonization of all Surveying and Mapping activities in the country.

In order to meet up with the aspirations and demands of the citizenry especially in this era of fast technological advances, the Office has put the following into action:

• Proper documentation of all available information in OSGOF.

• Acquisition of current, highresolution imagery covering the country for mapping.

• Articulation/formulation of a Mapping policy for the country

• Timely delineation, demarcation, maintenance of International and Interstate boundaries

• Production of National master plan and geo-data set for all sectors of the economy

• Production of updated, adequate maps that that can respond adequately to disaster, environmental challenges and developments.

• A workforce that is up-to-date in Surveying and Mapping technique in line with the world best practices.

• Acquisitions of state-of –the-art Surveying and Mapping equipment, and

• Undertaking all vital national Surveying and Mapping activities

• Providing the Government and the public with geo-information and definitive geo-spatial data of Nigeria; through User requirement Analysis;

• Capacity building to establish best practices in geospatial data management;

• Creation and maintenance of a National Repository of Meta data for all trigonometrical, Cadastral, Topographical, Hydrographical and Geodetic data in the Federation;

• Creation and maintenance of Survey Units in relevant Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs)

• Collaboration with Government Agencies.

• Advocacy in the need for geospatial information on all aspects of government economic and social service deliveries.

I do not think the technology is going to lower the entry level of practitioners in the Surveying profession. It will rather strengthen it. It will also increase the rate at which products are delivered to clients.

The focus for today’s surveyor should be able to deliver geospatial products at a much faster rate. Traditionally, emphasis was on production of maps, cadastral plans and establishment of controls at all levels. Today, the interest goes beyond this. It covers application of geospatial information methods in virtually every sphere of life at a much faster rate. The advantage of the Surveyor is that he is well trained in several branches of Surveying including geodesy, hydrography, photogrammetry and remote sensing, GIS and cartography.

More emphasis on providing service, than that of mapmaking

Brigadier General Md
Wahidul Islam Talukder

NDC, AFWC, PSC Surveyor General of Bangladesh

Survey of Bangladesh (SOB) is the National Mapping Organization (NMO) of Bangladesh. As the NMO, it carries out Geodetic Control survey activities as well as establishment of Control points throughout the country. SOB conducts topographical survey and produces various types of maps, Geospatial data including geo-database for nation building projects. Digital maps are produced for various purposes along with GIS data base. Survey of Bangladesh also controls all Aerial Photographs and the lone custodian of these. Besides, demarcation of International Boundary of Hilly districts is another important function of SOB which is carried out jointly with bordering countries.

Modern mapping was a challenge for Bangladesh until last decade. As technology is evolving fast to facilitate the map makers to mitigate the demands of the aspiring large number of people, we need to endeavor a little more to keep their hopes alive. By introducing sophisticated hardware and software, SOB has enhanced its capabilities and efficiencies in many folds. As national geospatial topographical data repository, it is now heading for fully digital system in order to help all the government, non-government and private agencies in achieving the national aspiration. Survey of Bangladesh envisages taking its product to the door-steps of common people. It also strives for improving surveying and mapping activities through close cooperation and coordination with the global communities.

‘Geospatial Data’ is very much required by the planners and partners of Development Projects, who all need updated data and topographic maps and the demands are in increase in Bangladesh. Survey of Bangladesh takes the challenge of providing accurate and precision data at right time and at right place. Our Government also facilitates the dissemination of information to the user level at the earliest.

As a head of the National Mapping Organization, I always ponder a lot to satisfy the growing needs and aspirations of our citizens. I emphasized more on providing service, than that of mapmaking. Digital environment gives the extra boost in respect of time and volume of works which could not be easily done by analogue methods. Few efforts like ‘Installation of Permanent Global Navigation Satellite System’ (GNSS CORS), preparation of Digital Topographic Maps and Datasets, making of digital large scale Topographical maps of urban areas and creation of Digital Elevation Model (DEM), are worth mentioning.

SOB has designed and continuously updating its website to provide most frequently asked data and information through the web portal. However, acquiring of geospatial data and processing those are still a mammoth task. Being the NMO of developing country, Survey of Bangladesh put its efforts in satisfying the urgent needs of users. Our objective is to acquire, update, organize and disseminate spatial data as per the aspirations of citizens. SOB assures and maintains accuracy and quality of all products for better results. Our trained and skilled manpower will endeavor to fulfill the requirements of users of maps and geospatial data.

We must have high professionalism

Brigadier General Dr Eng Awni Khasawneh

Director General of Royal Jordanian Geographic Centre Director General of Regional Center for Space Science and Technology

Royal Jordanian Geographic Centre (RJGC) was established in 1975 as a national, scientific and specialized institution on both national and regional level in the field of surveying works, producing maps in various scales to meet the needs of Jordan and other countries in the region.

We introduce ourselves as a unique geographic centre in the Middle East and South Africa, especially in the following fields:

– Producing topographic, operational & Thematic maps.

– Building & maintaining the national Geodetic Network.

– Orthophoto, Digital Maps, cartography, aerial photography, Remote Sensing, GIS.

– Delimitation & Demarcation of international boundaries of Jordan.

– Helping in preparing detailed cadastral charts of properties and real states.

– Land cover of Jordan at different scales.

– Building digital geographic data base.

– Hosting the Regional center for Space Sciences and Education for Western Asia affiliated to the United Nations.

– Offering required consultancy, advice and guidance for government institutions and ministries as well as the private sector.

– Obtaining advanced equipment and special software for the works of survey and maps.

– Providing high quality training in those fields for participants from inside and outside Jordan.

– Signing several agreements and MOU with many authorities and ministries to get benefit of our technical and training capabilities.

Also RJGC is a member in many international leagues such as: ADEGN, UNGEGN, ISPRS, IAG, ISNET, COPUOS, IAG, ICA, IUGG, AARS.

We put a strategic plan (2013-2016) to meet the updated developments, facilitate the procedures, providing alternatives and concentrate on the quality of the product offered to various institutions and individuals.

In the last three years, we concentrated our efforts on holding scientific days, lectures and workshops to activate the role of RJGC locally and internationally and participate in making field applied studies by using Remote Sensing techniques and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specially those related with natural resources such as ground water gatherings.

In light of the challenges of the modern era represented in rapid changing, intense competition and the enormous development in information and communication technology, which made the RJGC keep pace with those developments closely, particularly regarding modern software and digital survey, including aerial photography, production of maps and determining the coordinates accurately.

Modern technology allows the producers of maps to provide users with data quickly, accurately and in digital form services upon request, which was not available before as the production of the map before was taking long time and stages which allowed others to present different interpretations to the enthusiasts who are not concerned with map industry

And as we face a strong competition in the market today and the emergence of new applications and rapid changes, we find that we must have high professionalism and good specifications to ensure the quality and durability of our products It is necessary to use all scientific and technical developments for the benefit of our citizens and to find optimal solutions for their problems and daily suffering so that those plans and strategies are reflected positively on their living standard and daily life.


– Hosting the Regional Centre for Space Sciences and Education for Western Asia affiliated to the United Nations which aims to develop the skills and knowledge of university educators, scientists and universities working in the field of environmental research, remote sensing and related sciences, assist educators to develop environmental and atmospheric sciences, develop the skills in the field of satellite communications, including those associated with rural development, disaster mitigation, business networking between professionals and scientists, government institutions in order to facilitate the exchange of new ideas, data and experiences, enhance regional and international cooperation in the field of space science and technology and application programs and assist in disseminating and explain the importance of space science and technology to the public and its value in improving their everyday quality of life.

– Hosting the Arab Division of Experts on Geographical Names.

Ambitions and vision

– Hosting the National Geographic Information System (NGIS) in coordination with the concerned authorities.

– Establishing the King Abdullah II City for Space Sciences & Astronomy which will include a planetarium, an optical telescope observatory for astronomical researches and crescent observation, radio telescope, Satellite receiving station.

– Converting satellite dish (32m) diameter located in Amman to a radio Telescope to connect it to the (EVLBI) network.

Quality standards have to be strictly observed

Dr Peter N Tiangco

The National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) Administrator, Philippines

As a national mapping organization (NMO), we recognize how technologies constantly revolutionize and shape our surveying, mapping and geospatial information management industry. The combined advantages of GPS, GIS, ICT and Internet, for example, are overwhelming that they have empowered the mapmakers and providers both on the institutional and individual levels breaking the barriers between professional practitioners and map enthusiasts. Needless to say, technologies will certainly evolve and continue to impact the industry players and market dynamics.

Are NMOs still relevant? Yes. For a country like the Philippines, at least the regulatory dimension of mapmaking is still of utmost importance to us and quality standards have to be strictly imposed and observed even if mapmaking is outsourced. In fact, a national administrative order was issued in this regard to coordinate the acquisition of geospatial data to address inefficiencies in the use of our government resources.

Volunteered geographic information, participatory GIS and crowd sourcing have become another interesting dimension of mapmaking. Generally, we cannot restrain anyone from being an instant service provider, industry player or stakeholder, but ideally, everyone has to come around the standards table in the spirit of producing authoritative maps. In the long run, we can make strategic partners, not competitors, out of these actors, to carry out common national development agenda. These actors can also provide valuable inputs into our agency’s quality management system for the continual improvement of our geospatial products and services.

The National Mapping and Resource Information Authority or NAMRIA is the central mapping agency of the Philippine government. It is mandated to produce topographic maps, nautical charts and other geospatial products and to make such products as accurate, timely, available and accessible as possible across all government levels and the citizenry. Amidst the fast and incessant technological shifts, it is also incumbent upon the agency to address some social needs, i.e., bringing our maps closer to people, by utilizing technical advances. Along this line, NAMRIA is currently undertaking two initiatives namely, the Philippine Geoportal: One Nation One Map Project (PGP) and the Unified Mapping Project (UMP). The PGP aims at establishing a web portal that provides a system for sharing of and access to geospatial information using one common multiscale basemaps. The system will provide a mechanism for a clearinghouse, data management and exchange standards and protocols, and institutional interface that will facilitate the flow of information across the network, with safeguards to protect misuse and potential risks to individuals, community and country. The PGP also intends to provide a platform for multiagency collaboration and business partnerships.

The UMP involves the updating of large-scale topographic maps for the whole country that will eventually be served on the geoportal. While we recognize the importance of largescale maps to various applications, the project aims at providing new high resolution base information for emerging applications such as disaster risk reduction and management and climate change adaptation.

By making great strides toward being a citizen-centric organization, the agency envisions a geospatially empowered Philippines by 2020, a vision wherein the government capitalizes on geospatial information for effective governance and a citizenry that benefits from the use of such information.

NMOs are under immense pressure to deliver services

Dr Swarna Subba Rao

Surveyor General of India

With the penetration of GIS technology into all important aspects of Governance, social and public related activities especially with the activities on Web like Google Maps etc. today, the usage of Maps and Geo Spatial Data has increased manifolds and subsequently the demand has also gone up several folds. This has put National mapping organizations under immense pressure to deliver services whose nature is changing very fast as consequent of developments in other sectors like Web technology. This is driving the map makers change their mandate to meet the above described demands from all societies of the country.

The technology has developed substantially in the past few decades bringing in many user friendly equipment and methods in survey, map making and data collection. For example, till 1980s to provide one ground control point, by using triangulation methods it used to take two to three weeks for the survey teams. Today, the GPS technologies made it possible in a matter of hours. The same analogy is applicable in map making and data collection as well.

This shift in the technological arena has facilitated many of enthusiastic map makers to produce reasonably good products in a very short time. These products are capable of meeting majority of social needs and to some extent the needs of planning and governance exercises as well. This is compelling the NMOs to accommodate these very new demands into their work. The advances in the mobile technology and it’s integration with GPS and other technologies are opening up many new arenas of effective usage of geospatial data. The change in thinking of governments and their increased demands for purpose specific geospatial data is another reason to celebrate as well feel concerned for the NMOs.

Presently, in India the major initiatives like NGIS, mapping the country on 1:10k mapping in a GSI compatible format in a very short duration is an indicator of the growing importance of geospatial data and it’s producers. National GIS is acting as a driver for various activities within the Government of India agencies that are now expected to integrate their data with geospatial data and add the geospatial component into their planning and analysis. Though this is a welcome development that leads to a comprehensive and better planning and governance in a sustainable way and gives way to geospatial g-governance culture, initially the NMO has to deliver several innovative and complex services to achive this goal. They have to adopt and practice new technologies and strategies.

NMOs has some unavoidable and leadership role to play at the national scene. NMOs are responsible for providing direction to the mapping community of the country. They are shouldered with the responsibility of ensuring a balance between enthusiastic mapping and data collection and protecting the national interests specially with respect to national security within and from outside. NMO are also mandated to provide necessary infrastructure to ensure all the mapping activities are properly supported with facilities and technology. SoI proposes to fulfill this requirement by way of extending it’s consultancy and advisory services and establishing Continuously Operated Reference System for providing GPS signals across the country.

In a way one can surmise that NMOs across the world are facing challenges due to penetration of GIS technology and advancements in mobile and GPS technologies. SoI in India is gearing itself up and preparing to face these challenges with its programmes.

The requirement for authoritative data is crucial

Luiz Paulo Souto Fortes, PhD

Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), Currently at the Department of Geomatics Engineering, University of Calgary

GNSS technologies have impacted many activities in all countries of the planet, and the same is especially valid for the land administration sector. In Brazil, a law was published in 2001 making mandatory the link of the perimeter of all ~five million rural properties in the country to the Brazilian Geodetic Frame. GNSS has been playing a fundamental role in supporting the corresponding surveys, carried out by professional surveyors certified by the Land Reform Institute (INCRA, from Portuguese) for this task. In order to improve the reference framework to support these surveys, INCRA and IBGE established a cooperation which has allowed the densification and modernization of the Brazilian Network for Continuous Monitoring of GNSS (RBMC), the national CORS network, up to more than 90 GNSS stations working continuously. In addition to it, under cooperation with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), IBGE has released a Precise Point Positioning (PPP) service in the country and surrounding areas, benefitting many positioning applications since the survey results are also referred to SIRGAS2000, the official geodetic reference system adopted in Brazil (and compatible with many other systems in the continent).

Since 2010 professional surveyors are officially allowed to use this PPP service for processing of rural properties’ surveys. Figures 1 and 2 show information related to the use of this service (in terms of spatial distribution and number of monthly submissions, respectively) since its release in 2009 – which is impressive. Recent advances also include the broadcast of International GNSS Service (IGS) real time satellite ephemeris and clock corrections through the Internet, supporting PPP real time positioning applications. All these GNSS-based resources have decisively been facilitating the accomplishment of the challenging task of improving the land administration structure in Brazil.

This is a good example on how GNSS technology may positively support an application with strong social impact in the country. Looking to the future, with the availability of more GNSS signals from space, it is expected that a required positioning accuracy will be achieved faster than before. But even with the ongoing technology evolution, the requirement for authoritative data is crucial, which reinforces the role to be played by national government institutions in providing the proper geospatial framework, besides producing and/ or certifying the associated information. This is especially the case in land administration applications.

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