Possibility or a dream? Spatially Enabled Geovernment and Societies
The ultimate challenge
It is important to deal with institutional, legal and common frameworks, management models, and technical standards for the building of sustainable spatial data infrastructures.
GPS or the satellite positioning and timing technology has been deeply interwoven in various activities of the society now in Japan, ranging from vehicle (cars, airplanes, ships, trains, etc.) navigation to timing for online trading. It is anticipated that there could be insurmountable damage to the functions of the society in case GPS signals were to be disrupted indefinitely.
Spatial maturity could not be simply defined with a set of parameters. Instead, it would be more evolutionary, progressing from one stage to another. The goal posts may change and keep moving forward. In a sense, it is a journey and not an end. The important aspect is that that such a journey is shared by most if not all of the jurisdictions within the Permanent Committee on GIS Infrastructure for Asia and the Pacific (PCGIAP) region. We should endeavor to engage more and more jurisdictions in this journey. It may so happen that some of the jurisdictions may progress slower than others but all are the part of this journey, striving to progress towards a spatially enabled society as that would ultimately benefit the people within these jurisdictions. If we fail to involve all these jurisdictions, particularly the small islands and developing jurisdictions in this journey, then that would be sad for humanity.
Successful cadastral systems evolve. As societies, culture, laws, and technology evolve, so can the benefits from the system. It is important to understand full spatial enablement and begin building with the end goal in mind and build a system designed to evolve and grow.
The geospatial information generated by mapping agencies like Department of Surveying and Mapping (JUPEM), Malaysia should ultimately benefit the people and society. I will consider the objective of spatially enabled governance and society has been achieved when geospatial information is not only used by the government agencies which are working in geospatial domain but also by those agencies who do not deal with geospatial data directly. However, the geospatial data should ultimately be used by the citizens. When that happens, I can say, we are Spatially Enabled Society.
The processes of land management like land use planning, taxation and property rights registration both use ánd produce land information. One of the objectives of an NSDI is to reuse the produced information as much as possible for the other land management processes. The extent to which this is possible is depending on the laws that govern those land management processes, that all have a perspective on spatial reality but which perspectives are not necessarily the same. One can speak of legislative interoperability when all hindrances for reuse in these land management laws have been removed and concepts and definitions of spatial objects are aligned as much as possible.
By definition, ‘spatial enablement in action’ means that we (governments) must make our spatial information “actionable”. That is, it must be used and leveraged beyond just for mapping. It must form the enduring fundamental authoritative spatial data layers of a nation, and do so in a way so that it is able to support evidence-based decision making for the many social, economic and environmental drivers challenges that face our Governments. It is incumbent on us doing so. Should we not do so, we seriously risk “spatial stagnation”, and have a rich resource of geoinformation that remains largely untapped and with significant unrealised potential.
Capacity building and technology transfer is a key issue for spatial and geographic information management. There is a need for a global agenda for capacity building and technology transfer for countries in the context of spatial information. This element is also central to the objectives of the Joint Board GIS member organizations in support of local, national and international spatial data management and infrastructure developments that will allow nations and their citizens to better address social, economic, and environmental issues of pressing importance.
It is obvious that there are enormous benefits of a government being spatially enabled- this includes improved decision making and improved delivery mechanisms. However to realize a spatially enabled government, there needs to be much collaboration, because the effort is multi-disciplinary in nature. The Treasury need not have reservation in providing funding for data collection and maintenance works as studies have shown that there is positive return on investment (ROI) in funding those works.
The key challenge in the context of spatial governance is legal and institutional arrangements which define most of national, regional and global activities in collection, dissemination, utilization as well as service of geospatial information toward a spatially enabled society.
The shift in paradigm in governance (towards spatially enabled) will happen only if there is change in mentality. The shift in mentality is really from a divisionist view of the world to a holistic, systems view of the world. We design institutions, systems, processes, databases etc. based on the way we think – our perceptions of needs. The divisionist mentality hardly makes space for sharing information in the design process because it is focused only on fulfilling of narrow mandates – on the partial view of the world. The holistic, systems thinking mentality perceives the need of the whole even in the design of parts. It is systems thinking that is the germ for the SDI concept in the spatial enablement of government and society, but SDI implementation will be stymied if all stakeholders do not share the holistic mentality – they will pose barriers to its development.
Data policy and copyrights need to be clearly identified as driving forces in the context of geospatial information sharing.
I would like to refer Maslow’s hierarchical theory of human needs (physical and psychological) , which dates from 1943. Through taking a Maslow optic of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG) provides a refreshing perspective of the links between human development needs and broader development needs including economic development. At the lowest level of Maslow, are the basic needs of people to survive – Food, Water and Shelter. Currently, more than 1 billion of the world’s population or 20% live without access to safe drinking water. More than 13% of the world’s population are hungry, one billion children live in poverty (or 1 in 2 children in the world) and 640 million live without adequate shelter. Poverty is the principle cause of hunger.
Kuala Lumpur declaration on Spatially Enabled Government & Society
We, the participants of the United Nations sponsored Permanent Committee on GIS Infrastructure for Asia and the Pacific International Symposium on Spatially Enabled Government and Society, with the theme “Towards Spatial Maturity” held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on February 15th and 16th, 2012, having met in the context of building trust to promote understanding and to enhance collaboration in the field of geospatial information and spatial enablement that addresses current national, regional and global challenges, hereby issue this Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Spatially Enabled Government and Society.
Recalling Resolution 16 at the 13th United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for Asia and the Pacific in 1994 that established the Permanent Committee on GIS Infrastructure for Asia and the Pacific (PCGIAP),
Noting Resolution 1 at the 16th United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for Asia and the Pacific in 2003 on the importance of spatial data infrastructures in supporting sustainable development at national, regional and global levels,
Further noting Resolution 5 at the 18th United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for Asia and the Pacific in 2009 to understand, compare and determine the state of spatially enabled government and society including levels of maturity and governance of spatial data infrastructure in the region,
Bearing in mind that the rapid development and increased demand for spatial information infrastructures in all countries in past years has made geospatial information an invaluable tool in policy planning and evidence-based decision making,
Acknowledging that spatial enablement, by definition, requires information to be collected, updated, analyzed, represented, and communicated, together with information on ownership and custodianship, in a consistent manner to underpin effective delivery systems, good governance, public safety and security towards the well being of societies, the environment and economy,
Recognizing that geospatial information includes ‘fundamental data’ that is essential and therefore must have authority, currency, resilience and sustainability, be comprehensive, freely available, accessible and usable for informed decision-making, which immediately leads to better policies and sustainable actions, and more open, accountable, responsive and efficient governments,
Agree that spatially enabled societies and governments, recognizing that all activities and events have a geographical and temporal context, make decisions and organize their affairs through the effective and efficient use of spatial data, information and services,
Resolve to fully support the initiative of the United Nations to implement global mechanisms to foster geospatial information management among the Member States, international organizations, and the private sector, and in this regard to make every effort to: