UN IGIF Geospatial

Integrated Geospatial Information Framework (IGIF): An Overarching Guide for Strategic Digital Transformation

India’s recently announced National Geospatial Policy 2022 embraces the United Nation’s Integrated Geospatial Information Framework (IGIF). The document highlights: “The Policy seeks to draw on
international best practices, such as those of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) including the IGIF, to strengthen national-level spatial information management arrangements across our country.

So, what is the IGIF about? Why is it key to strengthening countrywide spatial information management systems? Why bother doing it all?

The effective use and management of Geospatial information have proved useful across all stages of sustainable governance and development – policymaking, on-ground implementation of projects, monitoring, feedback, and stakeholder interoperability. The UN-GGIM’s Integrated Geospatial Information Framework (IGIF) acts as a guiding beacon in this aspect, providing strategic guidance to develop and implement related action plans.

The Importance of Well-Managed Geospatial Information

Geospatial information and technology are being adopted and used much more widely and quickly today than ever before. In addition, the Indian Government’s keen interest in Geospatial tools and technology, as seen with supportive regulations, public-private partnerships, and implementation in national and state-level development initiatives, is steering the industry forward.

This push comes from the awareness of Geospatial information as much more than just a simple map. Instead, it is a critical national information resource with demonstrable benefits for society, the economy, and the environment. Using geospatial information and related location-based services benefits citizens, communities, business sectors, governments, and many other stakeholders regularly, whether with or without their knowledge.

This is because Geospatial data connects a place, its inhabitants, and their actions digitally. It can then be used to assess the “where”, “how”, and “why” of past, present, and likely future scenarios. This capability can be leveraged to facilitate the integration of Government systems and services across all verticals and projects that use “location” as a unifying reference frame, including agriculture, infrastructure, land administration, water resources management, and so on.  

All of these areas are progressing by leaps and bounds today with Geospatial information as their foundation. The Integrated Geospatial Information Framework offers countries the means to act on these pillars cohesively so that no one is left behind.

Understanding the United Nations Integrated Geospatial Information Framework (UN-IGIF)

The UN-IGIF was created by the United Nations, in close collaboration with the World Bank, as a foundational manual for creating, integrating, and strengthening Geospatial information management by countries. It seeks to identify areas that need additional input and effort when it comes to establishing geospatial information management procedures.

The Framework and its recommendations expand on the body of work already completed by the World Bank and the UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM). It takes into account both the users and service providers since both stakeholders have an equal role to play for tangible benefits to be made.

While the Framework was initially developed keeping lower to middle-income countries in mind, the living document has evolved over time to prove significant for high-income and developed nations as well. A few of the document’s direct benefits include:

  • Capturing innovative approaches to national geospatial information management
  • Implementing integrated, evidence-based decision-making solutions
  • Maximizing and utilizing national information systems tailored to country-specific situations
  • Helping countries move strategically towards a digital transformation: e-economies, e-service, and e-commerce
  • Enabling the growth of the private sector
  • Bridging the Geospatial digital divide to accomplish national strategic priorities and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

IGIF’s Nine Strategic Pathways and Their Significance

The overarching Integrated Geospatial Information Framework seeks to establish why geographic information management needs to be improved and why it is a crucial component of national social, economic, and environmental development for all nations. This is expressed in the IGIF through its Vision and Mission statements, seven Underlying Principles, eight Goals, and nine Strategic Pathways.

While governments, businesses, academia, and civil society are collaborating to create reliable data ecosystems and important solutions, the nine Strategic Pathways serve as a general roadmap for achieving sustainable socioeconomic and environmental growth. Spanning three major spheres of influence – governance, technology, and people – the Strategic Pathways are, in a way, the IGIF’s very foundation.

Each Strategic Pathway has numerous facets and dimensions that are to be connected and implemented as a whole – the Framework itself. This is why the 9 Strategic Pathways are presented separately like parts of a jigsaw puzzle. They are intended to direct governments toward putting integrated geospatial information systems in place in a way that will produce a vision for long-term growth.

The Nine Strategic Pathways of the UN-IGIF

Association of Geospatial Industries: Aligning Goals and Efforts to the IGIF’s Strategic Pathways

As the voice of the Indian Geospatial Industry for the past 13 years, the Association of Geospatial Industries (AGI) helps connect relevant user organizations with the Geospatial industry for networking, partnerships, and business opportunities. AGI is spearheading the effective development and management of Geospatial information in the country through its many initiatives. Through its objectives and activities, AGI is helping align Geospatial information creation and management in India on the lines of the 9 Strategic Pathways of the UN IGIF.

Governance and Institutions

AGI works closely with national governing bodies, like the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Space, Ministry of Civil Aviation, and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology responsible for framing the geospatial information governance model and institutional arrangements in the country.
Legal and Policy

As the voice of the Geospatial Industry, AGI actively engages with policymaking bodies towards the development and implementation of key national geospatial policies, such as Geospatial Guidelines, 2021, Drone Rules, 2021, Draft Remote Sensing Policy, 2020 and Draft Geospatial Policy, 2021.

AGI works with the industry and the user communities to develop business models and partnership opportunities and disseminates information on the benefits realization of investments made into geospatial technologies through myriad publications.

AGI has recommended a comprehensive user need assessment arriving at a common definition of foundational data, and democratization of foundational datasets. Our members offer the latest technology at various price points to help governments with data acquisition, management, curation, and delivery.

AGI promotes technology and process improvements through knowledge resources, like Approach Papers for the Department of Land Resources, the Government of Andhra Pradesh, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, etc.

AGI actively contributes to the Open Geospatial Consortium, with whom it shares a mutual membership arrangement, and is an active participant of the Bureau of Indian Standards ISO/TC211 mirror committee LITD22 for developing geospatial technology standards.

AGI has signed MoUs and established partnerships with national and international entities including the NRSC, ISRO, OGC, WGIC, UN-GGIM Private Sector Network, NIGST, Survey of India, etc., and supports cross-sectoral partnerships with bodies like the National Institute of Urban Affairs, the Ministry of Jal Shakti, etc.  
Capacity and Education

AGI has an MoU with the Survey of India to impart training to Geospatial professionals. It is working towards the establishment of the Geospatial Skill Council within the National Skill Development Council and also establishing strong linkages with the Indian academic sector. AGI Task Force on Capacity Development is committed to providing training to mid-level managers/process owners.
Communication and Engagement
Through its outreach strategy, which includes social media, bi-monthly newsletters, seminars, roundtables, meetings, and conferences, AGI is building awareness about the value of geospatial technologies, the latest technological advancements, and trends.

About AGI: AGI is an industry-led, not-for-profit professional body that works in the interest of the geospatial industry in the country. We engage with government bodies, users from the public and private sectors, IT and allied industries, and academia to ensure a better working environment for the geospatial industry, higher adoption of the technology, and skill development/availability of skilled HR.  We regularly undertake activities such as organizing seminars, conferences, meetings, and training workshops and bringing out reports, whitepapers, marketing content, etc. to meet the above-mentioned objectives. 

Connect with AGI: Reach out to sakshi.singh@agiindia.com to explore synergies.

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