In a fast-changing world, availability and efficient use of data has become very important. Nations are fast employing systems and technologies, which make life easier.
A nation cannot afford to be left out in a “revolutionary” world such ours today. One of such fast-growing technologies is the concept of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The old fashion of static maps is fast becoming unpopular.
The capabilities of GIS are a far cry from the simple beginnings of computer cartography at the simplest level, GIS can be thought of as a high-tech equivalent of a map. However, not only can paper maps be produced far quicker and more efficiently, the storage of data in an easily accessible digital format enables complex analysis and modelling not previously possible. The reach of GIS expands into all disciplines and has been used for such widely ranged problems as prioritizing sensitive species habitat to determining optimal real estate locations for new businesses.
The key word to this technology is Geography - this usually means that the data (or at least some proportion of the data) is spatial, in other words, data that is in some way referenced to locations on the earth. Coupled with this, data is usually data known as attribute data. Attribute data generally defined as additional information, which can then be tied to spatial data. An example of this would be schools. The actual location of the schools is the spatial data. Additional data such as the school name, level of education taught, school capacity would make up the attribute data. It is the partnership of these two data types that enables GIS to be such an effective problem-solving tool.
GIS operates on many levels. On the most basic level, GIS is used as computer cartography, i.e. mapping. The real power in GIS is through using spatial and statistical methods to analyze attribute and geographic information. The end result of the analysis can be derivative information, interpolated information or prioritized information.
The basic operations of Geographic Information System (GIS) provide secure and established foundations for analysis, although the technology is still evolving rapidly (especially in relation to the Internet, its likely successors, and spin-offs). Better technology will remain a necessary condition for achievement of cheaper, faster GIS and better interoperability-but it is far from a sufficient condition for successful application of such systems.
GIS is fundamentally an application-led technology, yet science underpins successful applications. Effective use of such systems is impossible if they are simply seen as back black boxes producing magic.
Empirical analysis of the real world can be messy and analytically inconvenient business and so the science of real world application is the difficult kind-it can rarely refer to apparently universal truths, such as the laws of gravity.
Geographic information is central to the practicality of GIS. If it does not exist, it is expensive to collect, edit, or update. If it does exist, it cuts costs and time assuming it is fit for purpose, or good enough for the particular task in hand.
They way in which geographic information is created and exploited affect us as citizens and as owners of enterprises, and as employees. It is argued that GIS is only a part of growing importance and size of the Information, Communications, and Technology (ICT) industry.
The institute is working towards establishing an urban observatory to capture urban indicators. We will be considering broad areas of shelter, social development, environmental management, economic development, governance and poverty. Specifically, access to water, improvement in sanitation, connection to services, urban population growth, health and education, planned and unplanned settlements.
In summary the observatory will be considering and housing modules such as district:
- Population and Development
- Health Needs Assessment
- Education Needs Assessment
- Water and Sanitation
- Housing Needs
- Land and Geospatial Needs and Analysis
- Food Security
- Employment Data and Analysis
- Rural Transport Planning
- Built and Natural Environment
- Fiscal Resource Planning