VIRTUAL NATIONS AND NETWORKS | Leaders of the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) and the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Association (GSDI) have identified six priorities to help international information administrators to apply (geo-tag) location co-ordinates across their exponentially expanding databases.

In the post-Google Earth era, all governments will need to update their obsolete statistics and other information resources to include x-y-z location co-ordinates – and often in dynamic, streaming and increasingly visual contexts.

This complex and long-term project is essential for governments to support the emerging United Nations global technology network to use ‘systematic Earth observation’ systems to accelerate climate change solutions via more efficient management of land, water and other natural and constructed resources.

Geo-tagged data also underpins the new environmental simulation concepts of Data Cities, Virtual Nations and the Digital Earth vision that was first proposed by former US Vice President Al Gore in 1992.

In a new whitepaper titled Spatially Enabled Society, Daniel Steudler of FIG and Abbas Rajabifard of GSDI have listed these essential agendas to achieve the SES vision:

—a legal framework to provide the institutional structure for data sharing, discovery and access,

—an effective data integration concept to ensure interoperability and integrations of different tools and systems,

—a positioning infrastructure to enable and benefit from precise positioning  (eg GPS, radar and laser scanning) technologies

—a spatial data infrastructure system to facilitate data sharing, reduce duplication and link data producers, providers and value-adders to data users,

—upgrading land and water ownership information to more precisely clarify contractual interactions between governments, organisations and citizens,

—managing databases according to certain (yet to be agreed) basic social access, privacy and security principles and to help increase the availability and interoperability of free-to-reuse spatial information from different actors, agencies and sectors.

Authors Steudler and Rajabifard say the concept of spatially enabled society (SES) is offering new opportunities for governments and their constituencies, but the potentials will be more easily achieved with increasing involvement from the private sector. ‘In the same vein,’ they say, ‘the surveying and spatial industries must start to look towards other industries towards best practices in service delivery’.