The Centre of Excellence for UN Spatial Data Infrastructure (CoE4UNSDI) is undertaking a set of three projects, collectively called ‘ClearSite’. Find out more.
Geospatial data is any data which has embedded within it a location ‘tag’. Examples of geospatial data are post codes, words which refer to a location (e.g. Sudan), maps, satellite or aerial images, videos, pictures, spreadsheets with location tags and navigation system data logs.
Globally, the UN, partner agencies, member states and other relevant institutions are becoming increasingly involved in a host of vital services from disaster response and peacekeeping to environmental protection and economic development. In doing so, they produce geospatial data they need to share to raise operational effectiveness and coordinate efforts.
The global community of citizens is also becoming an increasingly valuable resource with the emergence of “crowd sourcing” of voluntarily contributed geospatial information.
Currently within the UN there is little capacity to leverage an individual organization’s investment in geospatial data obtained from a variety of sources for the benefit of all stakeholders. The Centre of Excellence for UN Spatial Data Infrastructure first projects will improve on this situation, in close collaboration with stakeholders, by using leading information and communications technology solutions.
The Office of Information and Communications Technology (OICT) of the UN Secretariat in New York has established the Centre of Excellence for UN Spatial Data Infrastructure (CoE4UNSDI) under the strategic direction of the UN Spatial Data Infrastructure (UNSDI) Steering Committee of the United Nations Geographic Information Working Group (UNGIWG). OICT, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Office in Geneva, Information and Communications Technology Service (UNOG/ICTS) have formed an inter-agency partnership to undertake an initial set of three CoE4UNSDI projects, collectively called ClearSite, as a UN System-wide harmonization initiative in reference to the UN ICT Strategy endorsed by the General Assembly in 2010 (Section 29 (A/64/6)).
ClearSite will provide the UN and its partners with a Web-based toolset to retrieve, combine and visualize the information needed to support their operations’ decision-making processes. This will create many new possibilities for the UN to “deliver as one” and to become more efficient and effective. ClearSite will directly benefit work being strategically accomplished in primary areas of operation and interest to the UN and its partners, such as Peace and Security, Social Protection, Food Security, Environment and Sustainable Development, Human Rights and Disaster Management. This harmonization initiative will also support and enhance initiatives in the fields of early intervention, conflict prevention, crisis response and management and strategic planning.
Major Project Stakeholders
Australia and the Federal Republic of Germany are the Founding Members of the CoE4UNSDI as the initial contributors to the CoE4UNSDI Trust Fund.
As a UN System-wide initiative, ClearSite is the result of a consultative process with extensive user input from key UN organizations. To promulgate existing international standards and to ensure broad adoption of its tools and guidelines, ClearSite partners are seeking to align with the activities of global and regional entities such as the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI) Association, the Group on Earth Observation/Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEO/GEOSS), the Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE), the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) as well as leading geospatial information technology companies.
The UN Secretary-General’s Global Pulse Project, with its objective of supporting social protection policy formulations at Pulse Labs around the world (such as the ones being established in Indonesia and Uganda), is providing initial use cases. UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is another organization aligning its infrastructure development efforts with ClearSite. The Common and Fundamental Operational Datasets initiative of the humanitarian community lead by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Department of Safety and Security (DSS) of the UN Secretariat are also early beneficiaries.
The ClearSite Projects
ClearSite projects are funded through voluntary contributions of UN Member States, technology companies, international organizations, foundations and industry associations to a Trust Fund established at the UN Secretariat.
The three ClearSite projects to be completed within 3 years are:
• Standards and Best Practices for Provisioning of Core Geospatial Datasets (OICT)
• Geospatial Data Warehouse (FAO)
• Visualization Facility (UNOG/ICTS)
Standards and Best Practices for Provisioning of Core Geospatial Datasets
The UN Spatial Data Infrastructure (UNSDI) Gazetteer Framework will deliver an infrastructure to enable access, management and cross-referencing of gazetteers (directories of place names), a core geospatial dataset of critical importance. The Framework will also establish a method for validating and incorporating crowd-sourced information to enhance authoritative source gazetteers.
Geospatial Data Warehouse
The Geospatial Data Warehouse will establish strong connections between the existing geospatial information systems of UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes. It will also build new connections, using widely available software and common, standardized data-sharing practices. Users will be able to easily locate, access and re-use UN geospatial content such as maps, Geographic Information System data, remote sensing imagery and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) data logs.
Using the authoritative directory of place names and the aggregated geographic data of various UN organizations, the visualization component of the UNSDI project will provide a holistic, common view of that information in a consumable and visually intuitive manner. The base layer of authoritative maps will include overlays of thematic information so that the various mandated tasks being undertaken by the UN and partner organizations can be viewed through the standard facility, or, if necessary, by the UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes as well as partners through their facilities.
via SDI Magazine (Roger Longhorn)..