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A new approach to GI: by design or chance?

By [email protected] - 14th March 2011 - 17:01

Paul Synnott, Country Manager for Esri Ireland,summarises the approach to Geographic Information adopted by the recently-elected government of the Irish Republic and asks how it might be achieved
I have read with great interest the new programme for Government and was pleasantly surprised to see that so many of the promises being made in this document will very much depend on the innovative use and application of Geographic Information (GI) in order to see them through.From the Programme of Government:■ Geographic Information will be a key component in âdeveloping Ireland as a âdigital islandâ and the first-mover when it comes to information technology by ensuring more progress on e-Government and moving Government services onlineâ■ Geographic Information and systems is Cloud-ready and will have a role to play in âmaking Ireland a leader in the emerging IT market of cloud computingâ¦â¦â¦â■ The greater use and application of geographic information in the public sector has to be a âtarget key technology area and sector where innovation can be appliedâ ■ Geographic Information will underpin the âprioritisation of a single farm payment systemâ for the agri-food sector.■ Geographic Information will be fundamental to âImproving the e-capability of our tourism productâ which is identified as a priority.■ Geographic Information will be an important tool in the decision making processes surrounding the âprioritisation of investment in school building, non-national roads, healthcare and job creationâ. ■ Geographic Information already plays a crucial role in the âkey priority areas identified by the Government, including energy, water and forestryâ where âwe will make significant additional investments, over and above current plans, over the next four years in ânext-generationâ infrastructures in energy, broadband, forestry and waterâ.■ The innovative use and application of geographic information and systems will be mission critical to âIrish Water, a new state company that will take over the water investment maintenance programmes of the 34 existing local authoritiesâ. To a next generation telecoms network that will âprovide next generation broadband to every home and business in the stateâ. To a â21st century Smart Gridâ, and to âBioEnergy Ireland, a new state company that will merge Bord na Mona and Coillteâ, two organisations that already make extensive use of geographic information in the management of our natural resources.■ Geographic Information will help with âtargeting up to â¬2 billion in sales of non-strategic state assetsâ.■ Letâs believe that Geographic Information will be one of the âmeasures to tackle the problem of social welfare fraudâ, which we know is a major untapped resource that will have a positive impact on reducing fraudulent activities.■ The use and application of Geographic Information will be fundamental in reduction of costs associated with implementation of domestic âwater meteringâ.■ âIn local services, we will establish a website â â to assist residents in reporting problems with street lighting, drainage, graffiti, waste collection and road and path maintenance in their neighbourhoods, with a guarantee that local officials will respond within two working daysââ¦..Need I say more other than please Mr. Kenny donât go and re-invent the wheel, this service is here already!■ Geographic Information will have a crucial role in bringing forward âa coherent plan to resolve the problems associated with ghost estatesâ not to mention its role âin achieving the best possible value for public investment in social housingâ.■ Geographic Information will be a key resource in âtackling anti-social behaviour and the plague of low level crime that is so destructive of community lifeâ.There are many more but Iâll not go on.Of course these are all very bold statements and I am sure there are many associated questions, all of which begin with \"how\"?■ How will geographic information and associated systems help with fulfilling all of these promises?■ How can Government access this fundamental and vital resource?■ How does the innovative use and application of geographic information and associated systems actually help reduce costs, increase efficiencies and help make better informed decisions?■ How will Government do all of this when we simply have less money, less people, less capability and less time?Well, Mr. Kenny, in the immortal words of a childâs âknock knockâ jokeâ¦â¦.. Let us in and, not only will we tell you, we will show you.There is little doubt in my mind that Geographic Information is an information management resource that must underpin this new Programme for Government. From page 1 the programme states that ânew approaches and new thinking will form the constant backdrop to the coalitionâs style of governanceâ and while, for the GI community in Ireland, there is nothing ânewâ about the value we bring to the decision making processes in the public sector, it would seem that now is the time for GI to really prove itself in terms on value contribution, business benefit and return on investment.The key question for all of us GI professionals is; will we be given the chance?The above was originally published on 13th March 2011 in a blog posted at:

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