Global positioning systems (GPS), real-time traffic maps, ride-hailing services, and e-commerce… all of these applications are enabled by location-based – or “geospatial” – technology and information.
Geospatial information is not only essential for the commercial sector and our daily lives, but also the foundation for many e-government applications, such as property registration, utility management, and building smart cities.
From navigating public transport to tracking supply chains and planning efficient delivery routes, the digital services built on GPS and current mapping data – such as house prices and socioeconomic data – have quietly become part of daily life and commerce.
With the increase of mobile technology and communications,Bottom-up, commercial, and consumer-driven information platforms and applications are innovative and have had big impacts on society.
Better understanding and management of digital location-based data and services integrated with urban planning and other sources of information – such as census data, cellphone data, sample surveys, and administrative data – can enable more efficient resource allocation for better service delivery.
Yet, for all that to work, governments have an increasingly important and underpinning role of providing the underlying infrastructure, such as geodetic systems; managing and sharing authoritative data at national and local levels; as well as establishing policies and rules to assure information is accurate, compatible, shared, and used effectively.
Today, all governments hold a considerable amount of geospatial information, including databases on who has access to education, communities most affected by poverty, areas at risk of disasters, as well as mobile data that can keep more people informed about disease outbreaks and weather patterns.
Governments also establish data standards to ensure data collected by various agencies and the private sector will be interoperable, based on the same reference system. Integrating such geospatial information into a comprehensive system will enable better decision-making by governments.
Furthermore, when countries apply a comprehensive approach to national geospatial information management, they can implement evidence-based solutions to social, economic, and environmental challenges, including in remote areas. The associated benefits of using data to improve lives can extend across governments, businesses, and citizens, and from cities to villages.
Reliable geospatial data will also enable policymakers, international organizations, civil society, and others to have better insights into the distribution of needs and ways to optimize development planning and investments and to develop better policies and interventions.
But high-quality, timely geospatial information, although critical to improve lives and livelihoods, is often not current, shared, or integrated with other necessary data – or simply overlooked in policymaking.
While most OECD countries have made great progress in this area, many of the lower- and middle-income countries still lag far behind. Urgent action is needed to keep these countries from falling further behind and reversing the “geospatial digital divide.”
As rapid urbanization puts pressures on city services, transport, and the environment, city leaders have the opportunity to build on technological advances to make cities more inclusive, innovative, and efficient.
and achieve inclusive, resilient, and sustainable cities and communities for all.
In August 2018, the World Bank launched the Integrated Geospatial Information Framework with the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) to help governments develop, access, and use geospatial information to make effective policies and more accurately direct aid and development resources, ensuring no one is left behind.
The Integrated Geospatial Information Framework is a first-of-its-kind global guide that provides concrete recommendations on establishing national geospatial information infrastructure and management – and putting that information to use. The guide also calls for partnerships with the private sector, civil society, businesses, and academic institutions who have access to relevant data and technology.
The framework could be applied by any country to plan for the needed infrastructure, policies, legal framework, capacity building, and institutional coordination mechanisms for collecting, sharing, and using geospatial data.
Moreover, the framework can help low and middle-income countries move toward a digital economy to provide better social and economic services to citizens. For example, It will also support the emergence of private sector firms providing reliable geo-location services.
The framework also defines the role of government and private sector, and, importantly, data standards to ensure interoperability and consistency.
In parallel, the World Bank is gearing up to support countries to implement the action plans on geospatial infrastructure, policies, laws, and the collection of fundamental datasets – in sectors ranging from land administration and disaster risk management to urban and territorial development.
Recognizing the importance of geospatial information is followed by the need to invest in its development. Resource commitments are needed to plan and implement functional, impactful national geospatial information management capabilities.
The World Bank has been actively applying geospatial data and technology to help solve the most pressing challenges of cities in developing countries across the world. For example:
- Together with the city of Tbilisi, Georgia, the World Bank is using social media data and semantic analysis to map the use of public space and citizen’s perception of their quality and availability, which helps prioritize and better plan investments of public spaces and infrastructure in the city.
- In Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the World Bank used cellphone data records, combined with machine learning techniques, to identify the most common traffic patterns as well as the vulnerabilities of the transport network subject to flooding risk in order to better plan and protect the city’s transport infrastructure going forward.
- Through City Planning Labs, the World Bank is using big data with satellite images to conduct rapid assessments of land use in Indonesian cities to develop cadaster plans and data-based urban development-modeling tools, which otherwise would not be accessible to small and medium cities in the country.
- In Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, the World Bank used the OpenStreetMaps and other open-source platforms together with local volunteers to collect detailed terrain information and develop flood models that supported resilience infrastructure plans and preventive flood measures in the city.
Other examples include:
- Land administration
- Disaster risk management
- Urban and territorial development
- What can satellite imagery tell us about secondary cities? (Part 1 & Part 2)
- How geospatial technology can help cities plan for a sustainable future
- Transforming Karachi, Pakistan into a livable and competitive megacity
The eighth session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) was held in August 2018 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Representatives from governments and geospatial information experts discussed efforts to enhance collaboration, coordination, and coherence in global geospatial information management.
Under the guidance of the UN-GGIM, high-level stakeholders attended United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress (UNWGIC) in Deqing, Zhejiang Province, China in November 2018, to ensure the widest and fullest use of geospatial information to advance social, economic, and environmental development. At the UNWGIC, the World Bank called for global action of applying the Integrated Geospatial Information Framework by completing country-level action and investments plans in 30 low- and middle-income countries over the next three years.