The Importance of Geospatial Information in Sustainable Development and Economic Return

Keynote speaker: Mr. Ali Bakhit (guest-speaker)*

Speaker 1: Walid Mulla (guest-speaker)*

Speaker 2: Mr. Ibrahim Nazer

Moderator: Dr. Abdullah Al-Mutairi

Summary

“Geospatial Information” is defined as a set of digital data representing sites that use specialized programs and store data in databases. Such data are processed, managed, and analyzed to obtain many important results, which support decision-making and provide a better lifestyle. Geospatial information also includes many data layers, the most prominent of which is the topographic layer describing altitude, deep-sea and geological layers. Environmental information, geological disasters, and public utilities (such as electricity, water, and communications) are all contained in the geological layer. Not only that, but also these layers include multiple transportation routes, parcel layers related to land division and registration, and the issuance of ownership documents. The address layer also includes many elements, such as the city, region, neighborhood, street, building numbers, and postal codes so that these elements help reaching the places. This is in addition to the layer of aerial photographs, panoramic photography, and many other layers and sub-layers that draw the reality of the earth from its interiors and exteriors at the best possible accuracy level. Where the Vision 2030 seeks to make the Kingdom a successful and pioneering model in the world at all levels, the geospatial information system has an important and central enabling role in achieving many ambitious goals of the vision.

The majority of government agencies, if not all of them, realized the importance of geospatial information systems in facilitating their work, as they began in the last two decades to create geographic information systems in their systems. However, lacking competencies and poor coordination with other parties led to negative results in most cases. Duplication has emerged in the creation of digital maps, in addition to the variation in specifications and standards, which resulted in a mismatch of the data produced by the agencies. This consequently led to squandering financial resources and slow implementation. Accordingly, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology called for establishing a national geospatial information infrastructure. A royal order was issued for the formation of the Interim National Committee for Geographic Information Systems. Then the permanent committee emerged, and finally, the hope is there when we see that all these efforts culminate in launching the geospatial platform through Tayseer Committee and the General Survey Authority.

The resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 388 of 2/12/1431 was issued to convert the Interim Committee for Geospatial Information Systems into a permanent committee named “The National Committee for Geographical Information Systems) with headquarters in the General Survey Authority. Among the tasks of this Authority are the following: Establishing geospatial data infrastructure according to the latest national and international standards and specifications, coordination among the agencies that produce geospatial data and providing them to beneficiaries in the public and private sectors, and their approval by the Saudi General Authority for Standards, Metrology, and Quality, and urging the relevant authorities to implement geographic information systems. The General Survey Authority is preparing a geospatial database at the national level using the current available geospatial data, which were collected from various government agencies and published at the current geospatial portal of the Authority.

Contribution on the issue included the following themes:

  • Geographic Information Technology GIS.
  • The importance of geospatial information and their uses.
  • Models of geospatial infrastructure projects in the Kingdom.
  • Challenges to take advantage of geospatial information systems.
  • Weaknesses and strengths of current geospatial information.

For more information on the issue, please refer to the link: https://bit.ly/2yWZoGF

Recommendations:

  1. Implementing the royal order of establishing the National Geospatial Center, and providing requirements for achieving the set goals and initiatives.
  2. Preparing, training, and attracting the Saudi engineers, technicians, and administrators in Geographical Information Systems and relevant fields. This shall take place in coordination with the universities, centers, and professional agencies either in the country or abroad.
  3. Having many fields that benefit from the services provided by the geospatial system in the Kingdom and their failure to keep up with the rapid developments, and making all efforts to realize the Vision 2030, we propose allocating an appropriate budget for making the Geospatial Systems a source of GDP.
  4. Giving more licenses for the private sector to provide Geospatial Services according to the many economic sectors or activities.
  5. Making use of the blockchain technology in developing the Geospatial System to keep up with the international developments in documenting the series of transactions related to the required information and facilitating the clients’ access.

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* Director-General of the National Address in Saudi Post (since March 2012), President of the International Address Committee of the Universal Postal Union, United Nations (2013-2016), and representative of the Federation at the International Committee for Geospatial Standards ISO TC211

* Director of Geospatial Information in the Saudi Post Agency.