Is e-Government an SDI Implementation Strategy?
This paper explores e-Government (hereafter referred to as eGov) as an SDI implementation strategy, specifically in Pakistani context. The paper augments the article "NSDI Implementation Strategies."
The Government of Pakistan (GOP) announced its eGov program in 2005 with a top-down approach, as initially it was to be implemented at the federal government level. The E-Government Directorate (EGD) under the Ministry of IT was established. The goals set for the program (E-Government Strategy And 5-Year Plan for The Federal Government - May, 2005, p.4 (pdf)) were:
- Increase efficiency and effectiveness of the government
- Increase transparency and accountability in decision making
- Enhance delivery of public services to citizens efficiently and cost effectively
The backbone of the eGov framework envisioned by GOP was the delivery of services termed as e-services to citizens via the Internet as illustrated in figure 1 below.
It seems essential to explore components of Pakistan's eGov framework and their supportive role in SDI implementation. The components and their perceived value for SDI implementation are shown below:
Table 1: Components of Pakistan's eGov framework and their value for SDI
||Value for SDI
||"SDI goals are changing from
data access to service delivery…." (Williamson, 2004).
||DI is not implemented on a
barren ground. The basic infrastructure such as hardware and software,
as well as ICT, should be present on ground to support SDI
implementation efforts. Every entity in infrastructure is important in
itself for SDI. For example, ICT "facilitates access to relevant data
sources and spatial information services by anyone, anywhere"
(Crompvoets et. al., 2004, p.8). Therefore, basic infrastructure that
includes PCs, intra-ministry network, office automation software,
intra-ministerial communication (Pakistan's E-Government Strategy)
would pave the path to SDI implementation.
|Common Applications||SDI is not meant only for GIS, remote sensing and spatial analysis. Ordinary citizens should benefit from it, as in finding the shortest route between places. Such common applications would help to deliver SDI benefits to the gross root level and the masses would eagerly contribute to SDI implementation.|
|Agency Specific Applications
||GOP's announced programs, such
as GIS for Agriculture, Natural Resources and land records information
system, etc., are agency
specific programs. Therefore, organizations mandated to carry out
these programs would merely cooperate, coordinate and combine their
resources in order to facilitate SDI implementation to "..... make
geographic data broadly available, accessible and shareable for a
multiplicity of users from different applications" (Morales, 2004).
||Commonly accepted and
implemented standards by all stakeholders play a vital role in SDI
implementation. Standards help to overcome heterogeneity and make data
sets as well as applications interoperable/shareable, though developed
by different organizations. Working within a common framework of
standards ……. makes it possible to maximize the impact of the total
available resources for SDI creation (GSDI Cookbook, Version 2.0, p.7).
Also, "…standards will increase the value of … data by facilitating
data sharing through time and space" (GSDI Cookbook, Version 2.0, p.24).
||Enabling environment includes
policies, stakeholders' participation, especially from private and
business avenues, political support, etc. To formulate policies
conducive to data sharing, GOP's eGov strategy envisions, "Necessary
changes in Legislation, Rules and Regulations need to be identified and
SDI and e-Government
There is a general tendency to integrate national SDIs in e-Government programs (SDI-Latin America and Caribbean Newsletter, December 2007, p.11). Masser (2005) while arguing driving forces behind SDI initiative underpinnings states, "It is also worth noting that eGovernment has emerged as an important driving force" (p.83). He quotes the Czech SDI as an example of this approach. Walter T. de Vries explored commonalities between SDI and eGov in his research titled, "eGov and SDI: The common grounds and missing links." He reviewed 857 papers and abstracts and then did text analysis using latent semantic analysis (LSA). He concluded: "This initial survey on eGov in the relation with the SDI field suggests that there is still a clear gap between the two fields of research, despite similar themes and objectives" (de Vries, 2005, p.270).
de Vries (2007) emphasizes that SDI development should be within an eGov framework. This idea is very important because it would help to achieve interoperability between SDI and eGov in the first place. Moreover, it would promote the service delivery concept of SDI and would add spatial value to eGov. Duplication of efforts in access network establishment for SDI can also be rooted out with this approach. Moreover, SDI development cannot take place in isolation as it ultimately requires the resources and powers that are at the disposal of governments. It also requires that governments recognize the importance of maximizing their use of national geographic information assets, as well as bringing benefits to their citizens through the delivery of e-services (Masser, 2005, p.124).
The discussion so far suggests that SDIs typically are built on Internet technology, which provides the ideal distributed environment for wide-spread integration and dissemination of spatial data and services. Pakistan is equipped with modern e-government facilities and all the components of its e-government framework are SDI supporting initiatives. Therefore, it is a good opportunity to make use of Internet technology as an access network, and use all the components and opportunities provided by the e-government of Pakistan to cultivate an SDI culture in the country. The discussion so far also suggests that the strategy for SDI implementation can be e-government in general, and specifically in the context of developing countries that have e-government programs similar to Pakistan, the promise and/or goal of e-service delivery.
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