Public sector GIS and tools show benefits of data integration

June 6th, 2018, Published in Articles: PositionIT

Government-developed GIS tools took centre stage at the GISSA Gauteng branch meeting on 18 May 2018 in Pretoria. GIS for resource management was an underlying theme.

The Gauteng education information map is an example of a premade map on the geoportal.

The Gauteng education information map is an example of a premade map on the geoportal.

Celiwe Kgowedi from the Gauteng Office of the Premier’s Planning Division introduced the audience to the Gauteng City Region Integrated Geospatial Data Platform, a GIS portal which she said responds to the need for data integration across Gauteng to support provincial and local government processes such as evidence-based planning, smart and safe cities and better service delivery.

The geospatial data portal serves the Gauteng government and citizens with authoritative geospatial data on the province, from performance monitoring and infrastructure locations to imagery and basemaps. Users can interact with premade maps or make their own, as well as request new datasets to be added.

Celiwe Kgowedi explains the Gauteng City Region Integrated Geospatial Data Platform.

Celiwe Kgowedi gives and overview of the Gauteng City Region Integrated Geospatial Data Platform.

The geoportal project was started in 2013 and completed in 2017, and a draft GIS policy, which will be published later this year, is in progress. Kgowedi explained that stakeholder support has been vital to the project’s implementation. Key steps in realising the geoportal’s success were the initial scoping of available datasets, understanding the tools and data used by the various government departments, securing enterprise software licence agreements, and training all the stakeholders to make the project sustainable.

Different users are assigned different permissions. The data in the portal, which is catalogued in a PDF file for easy overview, does not contain mere point data, but also links to various other datasets to lend social context. The challenge is now to add further datasets to fill data gaps and expand data integration. Kgowedi also recommended that GIS officials be included at a strategic level to drive GIS, which is not currently the case.

Zakariyyaa Oumar shows how the DEA’s National Screening Tool works.

Zakariyyaa Oumar shows how the DEA’s National Screening Tool works.

Another government GIS initiative demonstrated on the day was the Department of Environmental Affairs’ National Screening Tool – a web-based tool to support and streamline the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process. The department’s Zakariyyaa Oumar gave GISSA members an overview of the web app which provides pre-screening of sites for environmental sensitivity for the placement of proposed developments. The app produces the report required in terms of EIA regulations.

Once the tool is live and fully operational, it will be integrated into the National Coordinated and Integrated Permitting System (CIPS) and it will become compulsory to submit applications for environmental authorisation through this system. Drawing from the most up-to-date data of environmental sensitive areas, the resulting report also incorporates DEA protocols and requirements. The tool is, however, not a GIS application, and it does not negate the need to conduct field work, Oumar said.

Adjei Danso from the Surveyor-General’s office helped compile the Land Audit Report.

Adjei Danso from the Surveyor-General’s office helped compile the Land Audit Report.

Presentations by Adjei Danso from the Pretoria Surveyor-General’s office and Susan Hurter from the Pretoria Deeds Office gave GISSA members insight into two crucial South African datasets by explaining the respective workflows that produce them. While an implicit relationship exists between the two offices, they perform distinctly different duties and processes. While there were talks some years ago of integrating the two offices, it is not currently on the cards. Danso also made mention of the Land Audit Report 2017(published in February 2018) which he helped to compile and which analyses private land ownership by race, gender and nationality.

Sibusiso Langatshe from Statistics South Africa also demonstrated how the organisation’s Geospatial Information Framework (GIF) is promoting spatial data integration. The framework, previously known as the Dwelling Frame, is a georeferenced digital register of all man-made structures in South Africa, and underpins all the other statistical frames that Stats SA produces (enumerated area, main place, sub-place frame etc.).

Other presentations on the day included a look at updates to GeoTerraImage’s cloud-based water monitoring system, the Department of Public Works’ planning and precinct development programme, and overview of SANSA earth observation portfolio and the City of Ekurhuleni’s geospatial technology and tools for a smart city.

A photo gallery of the event is available here.

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