Global Geospatial Group To Promote Equitable Data Access

Gozde Zorlu | SciDev.Net | August 18, 2011

A high-level global group promoting geospatial information could help developing countries gain better access to data to help tackle issues such as climate change, conservation and disaster management. The UN has set up an expert committee and a programme on global geospatial information management under its Economic and Social Council to encourage international cooperation and establish best practice on the use of geographic data, collected by technologies such as remote sensing and the global positioning system (GPS).

The decision, announced last month (27 July), was triggered by a report earlier this year by the UN secretary-general that concluded that many developing countries have a "serious lack of institutional capacity to harness the enormous potential of geospatial information technologies and to build a sustainable national infrastructure". There have been several efforts to manage such information, including the Permanent Committee for Geospatial Data Infrastructure of the Americas (PC-IDEA) and the Permanent Committee on GIS Infrastructure for Asia and the Pacific (PCGIAP).

"But these discussions have been regional in focus," said Paul Cheung, director of the new initiative and head of the UN's statistics division in New York...