The role of geographic information across the world

Geographic information has played a key role at a number of events this week, including the World Bank Conference on Land and Property. Steven Ramage, Head of Ordnance Survey International, updates us on the role he, and others at Ordnance Survey, played.

This has been a great week for Ordnance Survey, with a number of opportunities for us, all taking place in Washington DC. Monday’s press release broke the news that Ordnance Survey changed their membership role with the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), moving to Principal level. Our Director of Products and Innovation, Peter ter Haar, formally announced our new role at the OGC Technical Committee meeting in Crystal City, Virginia, USA at the OGC 20th Anniversary meeting. I also attended this meeting in my role as Chair of the Business Value Committee at the OGC, which is open to all to attend. 

The change in membership level is a significant step for Ordnance Survey, highlighting our commitment to the development of international geospatial standards. We’re already leading a number of activities relating to international standards for mobile, 3D and linked data.

We were also involved in a number of presentations this week, related to the World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty. The week-long event brings together representatives from governments, civil society, academia, the development community, and the private sector. This year’s theme was “Integrating Land Governance into the Post-2015 Agenda: Harnessing Synergies for Implementation and Monitoring Impact”, and focused on building a shared understanding of best practices in land governance.

On Thursday, Dr Vanessa Lawrence CB, our Director General and Chief Executive, presented in her role as Co-Chair of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) alongside Greg Scott of the UN-GGIM Secretariat. They discussed how the UN-GGIM can fill an important gap in the work needed to achieve the poverty alleviation potential of better land administration. By providing a high level forum to influence politicians and decision makers and also a means by which valuable work can be done to further the usability and interoperability of spatial data, consistency of spatial frameworks and capability of national level institutions.

On Tuesday my colleague, Simon Ashby, presented our paper on strengthening the authority of national mapping organisations to maximise benefits from geospatial data. We discussed the number of significant developments, particularly in the realm of positioning technology, which have changed the global geospatial industry in the last decade. Geospatial supports many land administration activities worldwide, bringing both benefits and challenges, including the risk of being driven by the ever-improving technology rather than by what is required to improve land administration. We looked at how national mapping authorities need to build trust in the reliability, completeness and currency of their spatial data through a rigorous data specification, data capture and data maintenance programme, which generates geospatial data that meets the needs of their users.

Today, Vanessa will provide a keynote speech at the Joint World Bank and International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) Spatial Innovation and Good Practices in Land Administration Forum, Co-organised by World Bank and FIG. She’ll speak on the role of authoritative data and challenges for national mapping and land agencies in fulfilling the needs of regional, national and global development.

It’s been a busy week for us and has given Ordnance Survey an excellent opportunity to discuss the future and challenges of the global industry with international colleagues, before returning home.

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