Archive for July, 2010

The long awaited Committee for Spatial Information (CSI) has held its first meeting and a tough journey lies ahead. The committee has been tasked with the responsibility of successfully implementing South Africa’s spatial data infrastructure (SDI) and with ensuring that our country uses its geospatial data effectively for the benefit of all its citizens.

Listening in on the proceedings it was apparent that the implementation of the South African Spatial Data Infrastructure (SASDI) is a mammoth task. It requires building a technical platform to improve access to geospatial data, the alignment of policies to promote the sharing of geospatial data, developing standards to ensure the interoperability of systems, developing standards for accurate data collection and maintenance, eliminating duplication of data collection, and improving the usability of geospatial information for better government decision-making. In short the CSI is responsible for the efficient collection, management, distribution and utilisation of SA’s spatial information. Like I said, a mammoth task.

Understanding the scope of this task, the CSI has identified the need to develop a strategic plan of action in order to build the country’s spatial data infrastructure. In the course of putting this plan into action, the committee will face numerous obstacles including amongst others insufficient human capacity, limited financial resources and a culture of restricting access to data. Added to this is a lack of understanding outside the geospatial community of the need to use SDI for effective decision-making which will in turn impact negatively on the political support provided to those responsible for implementing the SASDI.

To overcome these odds, the CSI needs to take to heart its responsibility for driving the development of SA’s spatial data infrastructure. As geospatial professionals, the CSI members are aware of the realm of possibilities that open up should they succeed in their task. Having insight into the power of geospatial technologies, they have a responsibility to support this process and to engender an enthusiasm for this initiative across all sectors of government.

We have proved with the successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup that with sufficient determination to succeed and effective management of the process, South Africa is capable of achieving great things. FIFA imposed strict deadlines on us as hosts to ensure the successful holding of the soccer world championships; the CSI needs to take a leaf out of FIFA’s book and develop a strategy to ensure the successful implementation of our spatial data infrastructure. In addition, the CSI needs to draw on geospatial resources across both the public and private sectors to support this initiative and make it happen. We have waited long enough and we all want it to succeed.

Members of the CSI must appreciate the responsibility with which they have been tasked and put in the necessary continued effort to ensure that the committee achieves its goals. There is no place on this committee for deadweight, and members who slumber deeply while the majority strive to create the SASDI should be given the red card.



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