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GGIM Experts Call for the Adoption of Common Standards

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Tuesday, August 12th 2014


The Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management calls for the adoption of common standards so that geospatial data can be seamlessly shared and used around the world

The Fourth Session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) was in session from 6-8 August 2014 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The adoption of standards for all geospatial information is driven by the needs of organisations, institutions and individuals to seamlessly share, integrate and use geospatial data. Standardization is behind the success of structures like the worldwide web and e-commerce. 

The benefits of developing and implementing technical standards for geospatial information include uniformity, compatibility and interoperability. Thus millions of processes, devices and applications in all areas of the global economy can work together for the common good.

The absence of such standards has been proven to be harmful, for example in cases associated with disaster management. 

The Committee of Experts on UN-GGIM recognised the important work done by three international standards development organisations: the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), Technical Committee 211 of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO/TC 211) and the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO). 

Their guide, entitled Guide to the Role of Standards in Geospatial Information Management, lays down in very simple terms, some of the guidelines necessary for the adoption of common standards. The Committee of Experts recognises that different countries are at different stages of the journey towards standardization and so endorses a phased implementation – a structure laid out in the Guide. 

In addition a paper was tabled, co-authored by Ordnance Survey from the UK perspective and INEGI from the Mexican perspective, which explored how a national mapping authority can benefit from the adoption of international standards.

The Secretariat of the UN-GGIM, in collaboration with the standards organizations, hosted a workshop side-meeting during the Fourth Session. This meeting briefed Member States on the essential standards, as well as the business value and good practice in adopting them. 

The Committee of Experts considered the activities and the documents at their Session. There was considerable support for the documents and delegates proposed that the Guide should be published and promoted to assist Member States with making the case for use of standards.

Only by Member States, organisations and institutions working together, through agreed international standards, can geospatial information really become the trusted and accessible resource that the world is increasingly demanding.

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