Gov't wants more professionals to use GIS

Gov't wants more professionals to use GIS

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

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THE Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change is increasing its public awareness effort to get more professionals to utilise the geographic information system (GIS) in their work.

"One of the things we want to do is increase the use of GIS throughout government and throughout the country because we realise that it is a very important tool," principal director of the National Spatial Data Management Division of the Ministry, Rohan Richards, told JIS News.

Richards noted that the GIS is location-based and gives persons an opportunity to see exactly where things are, which can inter-relate in terms of their location.

In an interview following a recent technical seminar at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus, he said that at present some 50 government entities and some private sector companies use the GIS technology in a number of areas, ranging from land information management, motor resource management, environmental planning to emergency management, but this can be expanded.

"We want to utilise the technology to the greatest extent that we can, to ensure that the country moves toward its sustainable development goals," he said.

The National Spatial Data Management Division, said Richards, has been working with the Office of the Children's Registry to see how utilsing the technology could help with enhancing the Ananda Alert Missing Children Recovery Programme, and wants to build on this platform to incorporate other areas of the social sector.

Richards said his division will be holding a series of forums across the country to discuss with different sectors the importance and benefits of using the GIS technology. One such forum was held with the insurance industry last week, while a second is scheduled to be held with the real estate sector, he said.

In addition, he said the division has a Geo-Informatics lab that offers training at a highly subsidised rate and he is inviting members of the public to take advantage of the facility. "We are working now with some of our tertiary-level partners to get them to utilise the services we have to offer, to gain credit for the degree programmes they have to offer," he said.

In the meantime, lecturer and geology museum creator, Department of Geography and Geology at the UWI, Dr Sherene James-Williamson, said it is important to train more GIS professionals to tackle the magnitude of work that needs to be done in the region.

She explained that GIS brings mapping to life and it is essential to produce GIS professionals who are able to do simulations and models, to help with planning, risk management and even economics. "It is very important for us to channel some of our energies into the training and professional development of our practitioners," she noted.

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