New document from UN: Future trends in geospatial information management: the five to ten year vision

There's a new document from the UN titled Future trends in geospatial information management: the five to ten year vision (4 Mb pdf).

The document was published by Ordnance Survey at the request of the Secretariat for the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management. The lead authors are John Carpenter and Jevon Snell, Ordnance Survey It was commissioned in October 2011 and just came out in a first edition this month.


Executive Summary:

The use of geospatial information is increasing
rapidly. There is a growing recognition amongst
both governments and the private sector that
an understanding of location and place is a vital
component of effective decision‑making. Citizens with
no recognised expertise in geospatial information, and
who are unlikely to even be familiar with the term, are
also increasingly using and interacting with geospatial
information; indeed in some cases they are contributing
to its collection – often in an involuntary way.
A number of important technology‑driven trends
are likely to have a major impact in the coming
years, creating previously-unimaginable amounts of
location‑referenced information and questioning our
very understanding of what constitutes geospatial
information. These developments offer significant
opportunities but also present challenges, both in terms
of policy and in terms of law. Meeting these challenges
and ensuring that the potential benefits can be realised
by all countries will be important in ensuring that the full
value of geospatial information can be maximised in the
coming five to ten years.
It is recognised that different countries are at
very different stages in terms of the development,
sophistication and use of their geospatial information
infrastructures. There is a risk, inevitably, that not all
countries will be in a position to invest in and realise the
full potential of geospatial information for governments,
businesses and citizens. International institutions such
as the United Nations have an increasingly important
role in helping to minimise this risk, communicating the
value and importance of investing in and developing
an authoritative and maintained geospatial information
base and reducing the prospect of any ‘digital divide’
Ensuring that the full value of geospatial information
is realised in the coming years will also rely on having
the necessary training mechanisms in place. New
and changing skills will be required to manage the
increasing amount of geospatial information that is likely
to be created and to ensure that the maximum value is
secured from it.
The number of actors involved in generating, managing
and providing geospatial information has increased
significantly in the last ten years, and this proliferation
will continue and indeed is likely to accelerate in the
coming five to ten years. The private sector and the
public will continue to play a significant role in providing
the technologies and information required to maximise
the opportunities available. They are likely to provide
valuable, and in many cases unique, elements of
geospatial information and the technologies and
services required to maximise it, in addition to offering
a growing understanding of the end‑user base for
geospatial information.
Governments will continue to have a key role in the
provision of geospatial information and be substantial
users of geospatial data; however, governments’
role in geospatial information management may well
change in the coming five to ten years. Nevertheless
it will continue to be vital. Building bridges between
organisations, collaborating with other areas of
the geospatial information community and, most
importantly, providing complete geospatial frameworks
with trusted, authoritative and maintained geospatial
information, will be crucial to ensuring that users have
access to reliable and trusted geospatial information
and have confidence when using it. This information is
vital to inform decision‑making, from long‑term planning
to emergency response, and to ensure that the potential
benefits of a fully spatially‑enabled society are realised.
As with all technology‑driven sectors, the future is
difficult to predict. However, this paper takes the views
of a recognised group of experts from a wide range
of fields related to the geospatial world, together with
valuable contributions from the national mapping and
cadastral authorities (NMCAs) and attempts to offer
some vision of how this is likely to develop over the next
five to ten years.
Based on the contributions received, trends have
been broken down into broad themes covering
major aspects of the geospatial world. They are as
follows: trends in technology and the future direction
of data creation, maintenance and management;
legal and policy developments; skills requirements
and training mechanisms; the role of the private
and non‑governmental sectors; and the future role
of governments in geospatial data provision and
via @ABarniol

Published Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Written by Adena Schutzberg