Everything you didn’t know about Spatial Data
Spatial data; little is known of it but the Ministry of Natural Resources says it’s hoping to change that. The subject which looks at the size, area and position of any location or phenomenon is for the most part not organized in a systematic way in Belize. Since 2009, however, spatial work groups under the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) were formed. The need for spatial data to be organized and easily accessible has been a growing concern and today the stakeholders held a consultation on the development of a national policy. The uses and benefits of this system are far reaching and efficient management and protocols are at its core. News Five’s Andrea Polanco was at the consultation and files this report.
Andrea Polanco, Reporting
The Ministry of Natural Resources & Agriculture today met with stakeholders on a national consultation on the draft of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure; which when simply put, is the use of maps to collect data that can be shared and accessed from secure space. Carren Williams of the Ministry of Natural Resources says that if implemented, it will positively impact development:
Carren Williams, Principal Land Information Officer, Ministry of Natural Resources & Agriculture
“It’s about sharing data and not just regular data but data related to maps so you know you can use the data but the data is attached to the maps; so for example, you can have data about the city and you can find data where all the houses are located, the streets and the police stations and school; what is happening with crime and what is happening with any sector in Belize City and that can be done for the whole country as well; So what this initiative is about, is for us as stakeholders that have the data because for example, every piece of data for the city is held by somebody else; the city council has some data and the tourism sector has data on hotels; the education sector has data on school and the hurricane preparedness group has data on hurricane incidents and shelters; so there is data all over the country for every single thing that you can imagine so this National Spatial Data Infrastructure is about, is how do we take the all the data that is floating around the place and make it in an organized way so that we can all share the data across the country and it can help us make better decisions for the country.”
“Now, is this system a relatively new concept to Belize?”
“Yes, definitely. The NSDI and the whole spatial data infrastructure has been built by mostly developed countries, like India, they are just putting theirs in place like a year or so ago; so we are really small country but we are not so very far behind.”
The field, while relatively new to Belize, will provide employment opportunities:
“Now, interms of the NSDI, does Belize have the technical expertise needed for this to be put in place?”
“Yes, definitely, we do. We have a lot of people who are technically sound in the GIS field and not only that but we have a number of students and young people coming out of school who are using GIS. We recently had some students from the University of Belize and I can tell you that they have great potential and we can get them to do this kind of technical work that we need in the country.”
Following the drafting of the policy, it will be submitted to Cabinet:
“Once the policy has been drafted we will submit it to the Cabinet for consideration and will let them know what the benefits of the system is; and like you said, it’s a big word and something new so we just have to break it down for them to understand that it’s important and that stakeholders are clamoring for this initiative to be successful. So send it to the cabinet and we also have a system in place; a web portal or geo portal where stakeholders can then, once the policy is agreed on, we can start putting our data together and start sharing it.”
Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.
Williams says the policy also make provisions for guidelines on the use of the system for parties who sign onto it.