Experts launch roadmap to help countries develop, manage, and use vital geospatial data to address development challenges
The United Nations Statistics Division and the World Bank today launched a strategic guide to help governments, especially in low and middle-income countries, develop, access, and use geospatial information to make effective policies and more accurately direct aid and development resources, ensuring no one is left behind.
The Integrated Geospatial Information Framework, a first of its kind guide approved today by the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), makes concrete recommendations on establishing national geospatial information management and putting that information to use. The guide also calls for partnerships with civil society, businesses, and academic institutions who have access to relevant data and technology.
“Geospatial information is a critical component of national infrastructure and a blueprint of what happens where, and with proven societal and economic value,” said Stefan Schweinfest, Director, Statistics Division, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). “Better understanding and management of digital location-based data and services, and good geospatial information integrated with urban planning and census data, can enable more efficient resource allocation for better service delivery.”
Data to improve people’s lives, protect the environment
Today, all governments hold a considerable amount of geospatial information, including databases on who has access to education, communities most affected by poverty, areas at risk of disasters, as well as mobile data that can keep more people informed about disease outbreaks and weather patterns. But the information, although critical to improve lives and livelihoods, is often not current, shared, or integrated with other necessary data.
With reliable geospatial data, policy-makers, international organizations, civil society, and others will have better insights into the distribution of needs and ways to optimize development planning and investments. When countries use new and innovative approaches to national geospatial information management, they can implement evidence-based solutions to social, economic, and environmental challenges, including in remote areas. The associated benefits of using data to improve lives can extend across governments, businesses, and citizens, and from cities to villages.
“High-quality, timely geospatial information is often overlooked in policymaking, yet is fundamental to achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development,” said Anna Wellenstein, Director, Land and Geospatial, World Bank. “The Framework will help countries in building capacity for using geospatial technology to enhance informed government decision-making, facilitate private sector development, take practical actions to achieve a digital transformation, and bridge the geospatial digital divide.”
Moreover, the Framework will also help low and middle-income countries move toward e-economies, e-service, and e-commerce to provide better social and economic services to citizens. For example, integrated geospatial information management can enable Small Island Developing States to better monitor climate change impacts, plan mitigation, and manage disaster risks. It will also support the emergence of private sector firms providing reliable geo-location services.
Investing in sound geospatial systems
The Framework stresses that recognizing the importance of geospatial information is followed by the need to invest in its development. Resource commitments are needed to plan and implement a functional, impactful national geospatial information management capabilities.
Having access to funding, either through investments by governments and/or donors is necessary to develop and implement effective geospatial technology. Investors can also use spatial information on infrastructure and populations to understand existing service coverage and identify opportunities for future investment, reaching communities with improved services.
Representatives from governments and geospatial information experts are attending the Eighth Session of the UN-GGIM in New York from 1 to 3 August to discuss efforts to enhance collaboration, coordination, and coherence in global geospatial information management.
Later this year, from 19 to 21 November, high-level stakeholders will meet in Deqing, Zhejiang Province, China, at the United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress to ensure the widest and fullest use of geospatial information to advance social, economic, and environmental development.