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Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau recently pointed out that South African society has a tendency to criminalise the poor. And he is right. Entrepreneurs trying to make a living by selling goods on the side of the road are prosecuted, and people without basic services such as electricity are penalised for connecting themselves illegally. There are many ways in which poor South Africans are given a raw deal, and one of these is the transport facilities available to them, namely the mini-bus taxi industry.

Mini-bus taxis are the transport mode of choice for the majority of South Africans, they offer flexibility and a price that suits the needs of their customers. They also go when and where their customers need them. However, the safety of the service provided is, in the majority of cases, shocking and the dangerous driving tactics due to inter-driver competition are simply staggering. Traffic infringements such as driving on pavements and driving on the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic are an all too common feature of the South African rush hour.

One of these days a class action law suit will be taken against the Department of Transport and the taxi federations for allowing the taxi industry to defy the rules of the road, and for enabling a culture of general disregard for the traffic regulations to take root amongst the driving public. This is no idle day dream. Laws such as the Consumer Protection Act have opened the way for class actions to take place in South Africa as evidenced by the judicial go-ahead given to the silicosis class action suit against the gold mining industry.

But why wait for a class action law suit? Steps can be taken now to professionalise the mini-bus taxi industry and make it accountable for its actions for the sake of taxi passengers and other road users.

Rectifying this situation requires the business model for the taxi industry to change. A priority should be that taxi-drivers receive a set wage instead of their income being based on the number of passengers they carry a day. Fleet management and vehicle tracking systems should also be installed in all taxis. These systems can be used for the benefit of taxi owners to monitor their drivers’ behaviour, to optimise their vehicles’ logistics and to manage the maintenance of their vehicles. The Department of Transport in turn can fulfil their mandate to the public and ensure that licences are only made available to taxi operators making use of fleet management and vehicle tracking systems. Initially the taxi owners’ profit will take a hit, but a safer, well-regulated taxi industry will attract more customers. Just look at the popularity of Uber.

Going geospatial is a win-win situation for all parties: the mini-bus taxi industry, the Department of Transport and above all the general public. It will be cheaper all round too, to invest time and money into upgrading the mini-bus taxi industry instead of upgrading existing roads and expanding the road network. However, taking the first step requires the powers-that-be to decide that South Africa’s poor are worthy of having safe public transport.

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During the 2015 Esri Africa User Conference in Cape Town, Esri President Jack Dangermond shared his views on the future of geographic information systems (GIS), the secret of his success, trends in urban GIS, his legacy, and the co-dependency between technology and the geographic information (GI) science profession.

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Clare van Zwieten and Jack Dangermond

What is the secret of your ongoing success with Esri over the years?

I have no unique talent. I listen to my users and I do what they need and want. It’s one of my philosophies. I am very conservative financially so we don’t spend a lot of money on exotic things. We spend money on things that actually matter. We are privately held, and we don’t borrow money. We work hard, we have strong values around the area of software engineering, and we also support our users in building tools that really work. Our success is not due to marketing or sales talent or business acumen, it’s because we have built and continue to build a platform, a system that works for our customers.

 

Where do you see GIS in ten years’ time?

I’ve been involved in this business for 50 years. The first stage was with basic researchers and we were running on mainframe computers. This was just a few dozen people on the planet. People were curious about the idea of automating maps and automating geographic data. The second stage really happened largely in the 70s which was largely rooted in prototype application work – people would do projects with automated mapping tools but everything was project focused. That grew to a few hundred people on the planet. When a product came into play – ArcInfo was the first such product – it moved from a few hundred people to thousands. Agencies began acquiring this technology and the world changed from research or project-based to system-based, but the systems were largely departmental systems.

In the 90s with the introduction of PCs, which replaced largely workstation GIS, we saw GIS applications in the form of projects become more extensive – and we moved from some thousands of people to tens of thousands of users, and that made a significant footprint on the world.

In the late 90s the technology shifted to the client-server model and in that environment people began to think about connecting different departmental applications into enterprise systems but it didn’t quite work out. Although the market continued to grow and people would take enterprise approaches, we learned that it was hard to put everything into one central server. The constraints were technological and human, and it was hard to get different organisations to agree to share their data into an integrated environment.

With advancements in server technology, we began to learn how to share information on the web and this happened both inside of agencies and also with consumer mapping technology like Google or Bing. The world began to realise the power of geospatial visualisation through simple-to-use consumer technology.

What is occurring now is the web GIS pattern which is a new pattern. It’s not mainframe GIS, it’s not minicomputer GIS, it’s not workstation GIS, it’s not desktop GIS, it’s not server GIS, it’s a web GIS. And a web GIS is a kind of a system of systems. It involves the ability to federate systems of record like server-based systems or systems of exploitation like desktop systems. It allows those kinds of systems to be integrated in a new pattern.

The web GIS pattern is implementable in a country or in an agency. It’s also interesting because we can implement it for the whole world at the same time. Our approach being a software company is we provide basic tools that enable other people to do real work. Inside of cities or local governments or businesses, or mining companies, people are taking their different departmental datasets and using web GIS to bring them together through a portal that supports apps for accessing dynamically integrated data coming off the web.

That’s a new pattern from putting everything into a single database environment because it allows federated data to be managed independently but dynamically brought together using web services. This is not a simple technology to bring together. It’s not a simple concept, but it’s starting to work. It can also be done for national government.

So getting back to your question, what’s going to happen in the next ten years? I think this will evolve to involve not simply millions of users, but billions. We will see the opening up and providing of geo-services to all of society. This is already happening through applications like Story Maps, where agencies are publishing their information as stories for normal citizen people and policy people to understand what is going on. It’s creating a new level of understanding. I like to call that a kind of geo-enlightenment and that’s happening certainly in the agencies, but it is also beginning to happen with the public.

Do you see this happening mostly in North America and Europe? Or is it happening everywhere?

I think it’s happening everywhere. Society is going to become more geo-enlightened as they do that. People will understand the consequences of their actions in a new way, and there will be a new geo-consciousness about what’s occurring on the planet.

I have a good friend Richard Saul Wurman who started the Ted Talks many, many years ago. He has a favourite phase he uses, “understanding precedes action”. It’s very basic to human beings. He says, “Jack what you are in, is the business of understanding, and geospatial is an understanding language.” I like to describe my users as people who are working towards creating a better understanding of the planet and while we do that it in various sectors, the reality is that in concert GI, or GIS professionals, are creating understanding which I think will become essential infrastructure for the evolution of the planet.

And that’s what’s going to happen over the next ten years. If we have a hope of surviving the challenges that we are facing, geospatial professionals will provide the infrastructure that will change that. At least that’s my aspiration.

During his presentation Michael Goodchild spoke about the issue of GI being a science as opposed to being just a tool. Where do you stand on this debate?

Is GIS a technology or is it a profession or is it a science? Basically GIS is a bunch of tools that have been embraced by many different professions such as healthcare, engineering, planning… These professions have taken the basic set of tools and configured it to support different sorts of workflows. Surveyors certainly are empowered by GIS as a way to do their surveying practice, so are planners, so are foresters, so are healthcare people. There is also a co-dependence between technology and professions, as technology advances there are new methods for doing things professionally. Things are improved, sometimes automated, sometimes made obsolete. Old ways of thinking, old ways of doing things can be replaced with new ways of doing things because of technical advances. I would say that this debate about whether it is a technology or a profession is up to the observer. Different people see it in different ways, and I don’t want to get into a battle about that, because it’s both.

We sometimes struggle with getting decision makers to see the value of GIS solutions. Do you get involved in trying to get decision makers to buy into GIS?

I am often asked to speak to senior executives in organisations. At our normal user conferences in California we have an executive track which gets senior executives to see the context of why GIS is so very important in their organisations. It happens that when senior executives get the value of GIS they are the ones who drive it, rather than the technical people pushing it. In 2014, UPS, a large package delivery organisation, saved about US$400-million dollars by using GIS to automate their routing of trucks and deliveries. Business value… that’s what speaks to executives.

Getting politicians to see the value of GIS can be problematic. Is that something you have noticed around the world?

What is occurring in GIS right now is that there is a growing demand for policy maps. These are maps that speak to policy people with information products that help them. One of the US presidential candidates today is Martin O’Malley. He used GIS when he was a mayor to better manage his city. He made maps of where the crime was and then put the cops where the crime was. When he became Governor of Maryland, he mapped where there were educational deficiencies in schools and he poured the money where schools were really in need of improving. He used GIS as an instrument for public policy but he had a creative team of GIS specialists who understood how to make maps that really spoke to politicians.

President Obama also made maps for stimulus funding early in his administration. He not only looked at where the needs were for putting money, but he also spent money in those locations of greatest need. Obama uses GIS for everything from national security to directing resources, perhaps not as much as he should in my opinion, but he understands its value.

Have you noticed similarities between metropolitan municipalities around the world?

Yes. In the 70s I was challenged with figuring out what was wanted and needed in different cities for GIS. I started with Los Angeles and made a huge discovery that there are only 33 or 34 basic geographic workflows and databases that cities use. Later looking at San Francisco, Toronto, Istanbul, Jakarta, and Bagdad… we found that these thirty-some basic functions were the same in every city around the world.

Later in surveys we found that all cities function exactly the same way. They call them different names, they organise them differently under different departments, but there is a generic set of geographic functions and geographic datasets. We used to call it the urban data model that all cities are required to do: picking up garbage, delivering things, addressing, cadastral data management, engineering, pipes, environmental reviews, zoning, planning etc.

In those early days we examined the relationship between those functions and the different datasets that were required to build an urban SDI. And also what software tools were necessary to automate those functions and make the right kind of maps. Those early research projects led to the development of ArcGIS. And that’s fundamentally how urban GIS came into being.

What are the big drivers for urban GIS?

There are four or five big drivers where the benefits are happening in urban GIS, and actually in GIS in general.

Number one, GIS tends to drive efficiency, it makes things cheaper or faster… and what mayor doesn’t want their city to be more efficient.

The second big benefit value is in the area of communication, and maps and integrated GIS just help better communicate the situation. Cities that adopt and embrace GIS tend to communicate more effectively, not only between their departments but also with their public, their constituencies.

The third big area is that GIS benefits cities by increasing the quality of decisions. If you look at all the different layers of geographic data when you are making a decision, it improves decision making.

A fourth area is transparency and accountability. Those cities that really implement it and do it well, tend to be more transparent and connected with their citizens.

The last one is a little more abstract. Some people describe it as science benefits. Or in the vernacular today, it’s data-driven cities, or data-driven government. Certainly GIS’s underpinnings lead to data-driven operations and data-driven decision making because of the relationships between the different agencies in the city that are sharing and co-operating with their information.

How is work progressing on the transitioning of users from Google Earth Enterprise to Esri? Has there been a lot of take up?

Yes, a lot. Early on Google had the idea that they would get into enterprise implementation of their technology, becoming a kind of software and services organisation for enterprise people. This overlapped somewhat with what we were doing with GIS although Google had far more limited technology. In 2014 when they decided that they couldn’t sustain that business, they approached us looking for collaboration, and we offered to provide the Google customers who had bought into that technology, licensing of our software for free. Many of their customers moved over to our platform as a result of that.

Once we became committed to supporting the Google Earth Enterprise customers, we discovered that we should take that same technology footprint, that global visualisation, and build a client technology that would be free and disseminate it in the world freely for all sorts of people to use and access our users’ information. So the ArcGIS Earth client technology which is a desktop system (later it will be a browser-based technology) will be provided free to anyone who wants it. And given that visualisation tool, they can connect to open services from our platform, and can also host datasets or services. I think it will very quickly become pervasive in the world as an alternative to the Google base map visualisation. It will basically provide free geospatial technology to a community that doesn’t have it now.

How much does Esri spend on research and development? How do you decide where to focus your R&D?

We spend about 28% of our revenue on R&D, and there are three main drivers. The biggest one is our users, and the reason why we are here at this user conference is to listen to users, both at the technical level and the business level. Every year we send out questionnaires to our users before our big user conferences. It’s a very difficult process because we have to confront that we are not perfect by any means. We figure out then what we must do for the next year’s agenda and that’s a huge influence on how we prioritise and evolve things.

The second major influence is technology changes. We watch that very carefully because our users want to be on the platforms and with the technology framework of the day, not yesterday or five years ago, they are interested in staying current. They are interested in us driving the technology in such a way that it takes advantage of all the platforms and the context of evolution that is occurring.

And the third basic driver is just having some very, very innovative and creative people that work on this and come up with new ideas. I’m continually blown away by what occurs in our development areas. For us it’s not one shot innovation, its continuous evolutionary innovation. It’s very tricky to evolve it so that all of our customers come along and all of our customers can be updated with their databases, their visualisation tools and their app users.

What keeps you working and innovating? Is it just the money?

It’s not the money. I think I love my work. Very few people have been lucky enough to find something that they are really passionate about. I lucked out as a young student. I got totally turned on to the potential of what computing and GIS could really mean for different organisations and individuals. I’ve been at it now for at least 50 years. Speaking quite frankly, if somebody isn’t passionate about what they are doing, they should quit and find a different job.

What is your succession plan?

I am the front person today but our institution is set up as a very stable organisation. There are twelve directors who actually do the real work and at least half of them can take my job easily.

And they have the same game plan as you?

Basically Esri is a company driven by our users. They have lots of ideas and aspirations, and they tell us what to do. We are a private company, and we make money for our users’ benefit. Unlike a public company which is about making money, what we are about is serving our users. That’s been our philosophy for decades.

What legacy would you like to leave behind for the world?

I don’t think I’m actually interested in a legacy; I’m just interested in continuing my work. I would like to share that you can live a meaningful and productive life in service to other people. That’s something I believe in.

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2016 is shaping up to be a very tough year. There’s no water, there’s no money, jobs are dwindling, local elections are looming, and political infighting is intensifying. This year we will all be paying the price for inadequate planning, and for allowing corruption and inefficiencies to take root.

The sooner we all acknowledge that it’s time to stop passing the buck, time to stop turning a blind eye, the better. South Africa needs all hands on deck, and in particular, it needs its geographic information specialists to come to the rescue.

The gloomy economic scenario facing South Africa needs to be fought head on with systems that will enable optimisation of efficiencies for asset and resource management, revenue protection, budget expenditure, monitoring and logistics, utility maintenance and so on. Geospatial personnel, geodata infrastructure and geo-tools hold the key to enabling this efficiency optimisation.

In previous boom times, decision makers weren’t too concerned about efficiencies as there was enough fat in their budgets to obscure mismanagement and/or wasteful expenditure. In these trying times though, budgets are fat-free. Decision makers wanting to keep their jobs need to identify how to extract maximum value from limited budgets to ensure that their business units fulfill their mandated responsibilities.

It is clear that the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, intends fulfilling his mandated responsibility – the prudent fiscal management of South Africa. Just like his courageous predecessor, Nhlanhla Nene, Gordhan has stood up against the monetary waywardness at South African Airways and, unlike Nene, he hasn’t been fired. Running on with Nene’s baton, Gordhan is continuing the race for financial prudence and we can expect a very tight budget for 2016.

Bearing this in mind, geospatial practitioners across all sectors, whether working with minerals, energy, water, education, transport, health, local government, environmental affairs, social services etc., need to understand the business value of their work. If they don’t understand the financial implications of their work, they need to make it their responsibility to ascribe a value to their efforts. In addition, geospatial specialists need to communicate this business value effectively to the executive management structures of the organisation they work for.

Geospatial practitioners are experts in geospatial matters but it is imperative that they understand the money principle; that when money talks, people listen, and that when Pravin is on the warpath, people’s listening improves dramatically.

There is also strength in numbers, and geomatics colleagues from across government departments need to collaborate, to join forces, and communicate with the finance minister. They need to use policy maps and geo-visualisation tools to show how geospatial personnel, geospatial tools and geospatial technologies are being used and how they can be better utilised to ensure efficient financial management of our country and its resources on behalf of all its people.

In order to weather the storms of 2016 and beyond, all members of the South African geomatics community need to make a concerted effort to get decision-makers in their respective organisations on to the geospatial highway as soon as possible.

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As those of us working in the geospatial sector are aware, geomatics is key to planning, infrastructure development and service delivery in virtually every sector of the economy. With this being the case, it makes sense then that geospatial data, services and tools are essential for achieving the goals of the National Development Plan (NDP) or in case you are an NDP non-believer, good old national development planning.

While the NDP has many worthy goals, it is disconcerting to see that instead of focusing on the NDP objectives that have broad support across our society and pursuing those objectives vigourously, the entire NDP has become part of a political game that has more to do with election alliances than changing people’s lives on the ground. The events at Marikana, service delivery protests, the attacks on Somali shopkeepers, the turf battles between trade unions are all symptoms of a discontented society and a discontented people. And this is only going to get worse.

National development planning is needed as a matter of urgency. We need houses to be constructed, roads to be fixed, schools to have school books and food on people’s tables. Why wait for the turmoil and trouble of an African Spring, when we can take control of our destiny and work on making South Africa a better place for all?

To get our national development planning on track, South Africa urgently needs to get its spatial data infrastructure (SDI) up and running. SDIs justify their development costs by generating greater economic benefit for the countries that build them and the developed world has taken note of this. Countries in the developed world are making increasing use of SDIs while we here in South Africa seem to be getting nowhere despite the numerous SDI workshops and meetings that have been held over the last decade or so.

A call was recently issued for suitable candidates to be nominated to become part of South Africa’s Committee for Spatial Information (CSI). It is hoped that government departments are putting a great deal of thought into who should be on this committee. The CSI needs members who have both the ability and the authority to drive the development of South Africa’s spatial data infrastructure (SASDI).

Building an SDI is a complex process, and perhaps one of the areas where South Africa has failed is in acquiring buy-in from top level government leaders. While we urgently need an interoperable, accessible SDI containing updated geo-reference data from a variety of sources, we also desperately need the support of a selection of high profile public and private sector representatives who can help to spread the message that an SDI is essential for improving efficiency, increasing productivity, reducing risk and improving decision making processes for national development planning.

South Africa’s SDI initiative needs strong dynamic leaders who understand what an SDI is capable of doing for the country. It needs leadership that understands the necessity of promoting the concept of an SDI to all levels of government. It needs crusaders who can help to get South Africa on track with its national development planning.

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According to a recent survey, digital mapping services have emerged as one of the most powerful growth areas in information technology in South Africa. The survey of 111 corporate and 400 SME decision-makers was conducted by World Wide Worx with the backing of digital mapping provider MapIT.

The survey revealed that three-quarters of South African corporations allocate more than 2% of their IT budgets to mapping services and that last year, 78% of corporates spent more than R50 000 on mapping services with 22% spending over R500 000. A key point to emerge from the survey is the fact that 70% of corporates intend increasing their mapping budgets in 2013 indicating that mapping is being seen to have increased strategic value for corporations.

In contrast digital mapping services are seen as a luxury item by SMEs. Most SMEs are spending below R50 000 of their IT budget on mapping services and just over a third of SMEs allocate more than 2% of their IT budget to mapping services. There is not yet the same strategic value in mapping services for SMEs as there is for corporates; yet despite this, 66% of SMES intend increasing their digital mapping budgets in 2013.

As Arthur Goldstuck of World Wide Worx points out, South Africa is currently experiencing tight economic conditions and if budgets are being increased for mapping services then they have to be of value. If mapping wasn’t working for companies, more budgets would be decreasing.

Both corporate and SME respondents indicated that the key benefits of digital mapping for their companies were enhanced security (fleet tracking), efficiency and productivity with increased competitiveness and cost effectiveness also being seen as important.

The survey also revealed that 47% of South African corporations operate outside South Africa while only 23% of SMEs operate beyond South Africa’s borders.  This implies that companies looking to target corporates with their digital mapping offerings need to be able to offer digital mapping services covering areas beyond South Africa. Traditional mapping services are not enough anymore. SMEs need mapping services with a national focus while corporates need mixed mapping services to meet their needs.

SMEs tend to lag corporations by 2 years when it comes to adopting new technologies, says Goldstuck. A typical SME has an IT budget of R1-million while the typical corporate budget is R30-million. Consequently SMEs need the business case to be very clear before they can adopt new technologies. They need obvious cost-effective solutions.

Location-based marketing, however, is one of those rare technologies where corporates and SMEs are on the same page says Goldstuck. Forty-one per cent of corporates used location based marketing in 2012 with 56% indicating plans to adopt its use in 2013. In contrast 35% of SMEs used location based marketing in 2012 with 54% indicating that they intended using it in 2013. These results clearly illustrate that the business case for location-based marketing services is strong, leading to an inevitable further demand for digital mapping services during 2013.

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Tensions were high at the NSIF and GISSA workshop dealing with Geo-information Science (GISc) professional registration held in Pretoria earlier this month. It was very clear that there is a lot of disgruntlement with the PLATO registration process and the PLATO GISc professional academic model.

The main source of dissatisfaction with professional registration arises from the fact that Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD), implemented in 2009, has put many government employees working in the GISc sector in a difficult position. They cannot be promoted or apply for new jobs within government unless they are registered with PLATO. Consequently there is a rush on for them to register and only now are they being exposed to the rigorous requirements of professional registration, including the appropriateness of their qualifications.

The concern of the majority of the people attending the workshop was their inability to see a place for themselves within the professional GISc academic model proposed by PLATO. It would appear that the majority of people in attendance at the workshop were individuals who had qualified in geography and/or the natural sciences and were not able to fulfill the fundamental subject requirements such as maths and science while others were lacking core subject areas such as information technology and geographical information science that are essential requirements in the PLATO GISc professional academic model.

As Heinrich du Plessis explained on behalf of PLATO, the GISc professional model was based on extensive consultations with the GIS industry, starting back in 2003, and by examining professional registration requirements elsewhere in the world. And as technology continues to advance, it is increasingly evident that maths and science are key subjects for people wishing to progress in the GISc field. Ignoring this fact will be detrimental to the profession in the long run.

Du Plessis used the registration process for a Professional GISc Practitioner to illustrate the correct procedure to apply for registration and the subsequent assessment procedure was explained to illustrate the importance of submitting the correct information. Perhaps it would have helped matters if the workshop had explored the other avenues for GIS registration via PLATO i.e. that of GIS Technicians and GIS Technologists. These are respectable options and will in many cases assist with fulfilling the immediate requirements of OSD.

There is also clearly a problem with the PLATO registration process itself. Participants were very vocal about their unhappiness with the lack of communication from PLATO regarding the status of their applications. However, as explained by the panelists, PLATO has limited resources and relies on voluntary support from competent members in the industry. It is also struggling to cope with the volume of applications arising as a result of OSD implementation. The long delays when additional or outstanding information is requested from applicants, also impacts on the turnaround times of applications.

In conclusion, people need to explore the various registration options and establish what works best for their particular situation. However, it is important to note that the onus is on people working in the GISc sector to strive to achieve the highest qualifications and not on the professional body to lower the standards to accommodate everyone. In the end professional registration is about quality, standards and protecting the interests of the public.

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South Africa hosted the 33rd ISO TC/211 in Pretoria in November this year. While it was wonderful to host this award winning committee, discussions with members of the South African geomatics community highlighted the reality of standards implementation in our country.

The work of ISO/TC 211, which is responsible for the ISO geographic information series of standards, is carried out by representatives from various organisations, international professional bodies and businesses. Our own Dr. Serena Coetzee (University of Pretoria) and Antony Cooper (CSIR) are actively involved in the work of ISO/TC 211 and do South Africa proud. However, the work of the ISO/TC 211 is viewed by some members of the South African geospatial community as being utopian and oblivious to the realities on the ground.

Sharing their experiences of standard implementation, GIS community members explained that some South African GIS departments are struggling to get the basics of GIS right and are unable to deal with the fancy footwork required of some ISO standards. There are stringent requirements to capture metadata for certain standards and this conflicts with the need to get the actual job at hand done. Furthermore, government departments are allocated budgets to provide deliverables and capturing metadata can get in the way of providing these deliverables.

In addition, there is the issue of who pays to implement standards. Some government departments and municipalities do not budget for the implementation of standards; their workflow being focused on project completion. These bodies are also under pressure to complete projects in order to ensure that funding is provided for the next financial year. When work falls behind schedule, as can often happen, the first thing to fall by the wayside are standards.

In standards-driven organisations such as Eskom, there are also issues with standards. Despite there being top-level support for standards implementation and use as well as budgets and time allocated for this as part of the work flow, these organisations still have to deal with individuals failing to follow prescribed standards.

Olaf Magnus Østensen, chair of  ISO/TC 211, acknowledges that the work of standards operating bodies is not being taken up as much as they would like. He added that standards are state of the art technology and require a certain level of competence and capacity for effective utilisation. Other members of the committee also acknowledge that some standards are not necessarily user-friendly.

Countering this, Antony Cooper suggested that more practitioners need to get involved in standards development as this will help to ensure that practical, useful standards are developed and that they are tested early in the development cycle. He also added that people need to understand the contextual framework of standards as this will help to determine which standards are useful to them.

At the end of the day though, it is clear that standards are beneficial – they reduce costs, improve efficiency and ensure quality data. However, where possible, standards need be more accessible and increased guidance during the implementation process is required.

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