If you’ve seen us tweeting about @UNGGIM recently and wondered why, find out more with this guest post from my colleague Jevon Snell.
One of the areas of Ordnance Survey’s activities that is perhaps not as well-known as others, is our involvement within the broader international geospatial or mapping community. Ordnance Survey has a hard-earned reputation as one of the world’s leading National Mapping Authorities. One reflection of this is that our Director General and Chief Executive was elected as one of the first two Co-Chairs of a recently established new United Nations initiative on geospatial information.
We take it for granted that our emergency services can be routed to an incident in the quickest possible way, based on accurate and up-to-date digital mapping. However, not all countries are so fortunate.
The United Nations Initiative on Global Geospatial Information Management, or UN-GGIM as we more commonly refer to it, was established by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in July 2011 in order to try and realise a vision that could help address this – to make accurate, reliable and authoritative geospatial information readily available, in all countries, to support national, regional and global development.
Ordnance Survey is really pleased to be involved in such a heavy way in a major international initiative set up to help drive forward this activity. By playing a leading role in such a forum we hope both to learn from other colleagues but also to support the UK Government’s broader international commitments and development objectives by helping drive this initiative forward.
We tend to take geospatial information a bit for granted – be it to tell us where the nearest takeaway is on our phone, or to underpin the provision of local public service, like school transport and waste collection.
However, many countries, often those where very little geospatial information is currently available, stand to gain a huge amount if they had such information to use. In countries where clean water supply is scarce and where the location of medical centres can directly impact life expectancy, having accurate geospatial information has huge potential. It could enable the siting of new clean water points to be located in order to ensure they are within reach of the highest number of people possible; it can ensure that medical centres and vaccination centres can be set up in order to ensure that the greatest number of people can reach it and secure the medical care they need.
The event began on Sunday with an Exchange Forum with the geospatial industry. We all recognise that in order to ensure to make the most of the potential of geospatial information, we need to work collaboratively with the private and non-governmental sectors. Sunday was a great opportunity to do this and saw some lively discussion between a number of industry leaders and Government representatives on issues including how we can best monitor place, for example to assist in disaster planning and emergency response, and on emerging issues around privacy aspects of location information.
The main High-Level Forum was formally opened on Monday by the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, alongside the Under-Secretary General of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and also featured our own Director General, who spoke on behalf of the UN-GGIM Committee of Experts. A number of Ministers from all regions of the world also presented, outlining their strategies for the collection and management of this kind of information and discussing how it is being used in those countries to underpin social and economic development. It was great to see such high-level support for the work of this Group and to see that, at the highest level, recognition is really growing as to how valuable this information is to a nation.
Over the coming days, representatives from all corners of the world will be discussing and agreeing actions to help ensure that Government’s all over the world are aware of the value of geospatial information and generate and maintain such information. We’re really pleased to be involved in such an initiative and will be talking a bit more about the specific work of the group in the coming days, weeks and months.
Find out more about UN-GGIM on this YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR8Gtogm99U