Aiming to Build a Life Spatial Information Infrastructure
--Suggestions for Advanced Utilization of Geographic Information System--

I. General Discussion

  1. Significance of Geographic Information System Utilization
  2. In striving to improve the quality of citizens' lives, the Geographic Information System, which is a tool for utilizing the "life spatial information infrastructure" in socio-economic activities and in academic research, is extremely significant. In particular, hopes are high that the convenience of citizens and consumers will be enhanced by promotion of advanced utilization of the Geographic Information System by government and industry.

    1. Merits of Geographic Information System Utilization by the Public Sector
    2. By utilizing the Geographic Information System, the public sector may be able to increase the efficiency of office work, reduce costs and improve the quality of services. In particular, local governments, most of whose work is with data related to addresses, locations and points of installation and to data representing spaces such as regions and districts, have already created and are utilizing their own various maps to do their job, and are in a position where they may easily be able to aim for an increase in work efficiency and improve the quality of services provided by using the Geographic Information System.

      1. Work which is adapted to use of maps such as disaster prevention, firefighting, emergency measures, river management, road management, agricultural land management, public facility management, property taxation, urban planning, water/sewer system management, health/medicine/welfare, education and environment control, can be executed more efficiently with utilization of the Geographic Information System.

      2. The Geographic Information System can contribute to sound development of a region through utilization of the System as a means of understanding the environment surrounding the region, such as where facilities are installed, where housing lots are being developed and where industries are located.

      3. The Geographic Information System can be used as a means of deepening the understanding of students in school subjects which are related to geographical information, such as global environment problems and regional studies.

    3. Needs for Businesses to Utilize the Geographic Information System
    4. There are many opportunities where maps can be utilized in business activities. A questionnaire survey conducted by Keidanren revealed that about 80% of respondents use maps in their work. Of those who currently use maps, 46% use electronic/digital maps while the remaining 54% use conventional paper maps.
      The visual display of important data relating to business activities, such as client of information, sales/distribution base information, and maintenance/management of facilities and products on electronic maps in terms of specific addresses, locations or operation sites/installation sites, results in a more effective utilization of that information in management planning including sales strategies, distribution strategies and even risk management and emergency measures.

      1. Examples of Geographic Information System utilization
      2. Advanced utilization of the Geographic Information System is becoming more common, spurred by technological innovations centered around computers and communications. In the past, utilization of the Geographic Information System involving management of facilities, land and stores as well as improvement of office work through electronic maps was mainly conducted on individual computers, but with the progress in LANs and intranets achieved in recent years, computers are now networked, enabling the utilization of information by multiple divisions in a company, or utilization of information by divisions closer to operation sites concerning such areas as facility installation plans, distribution management and area marketing. Utilization of information by multiple divisions is contributing to management strategy planning and to the decision making process.
        The following are examples of utilization of the Geographic Information System by businesses which were received in conjunction with the questionnaire survey conducted by Keidanren.

        1. Management
          Retail and wholesale store management, property management, service area management, land management, facility management (includes buried facilities), safety management/risk management, environment management, urban/forest/marine surveys, radio wave trouble management, speeding up and streamlining of data upgrading, reduction in drawing maintenance costs, etc.

        2. Support for strategic decision making
          Understanding accident and disaster conditions, planning client handling strategies, area marketing (utilization of problem finding and planning sales strategies while fully understanding conditions such as market size and market share in a specific business territory), selection of optimum locations for business bases, establishment of optimum transportation routes, analysis of safety/convenience/comfort of vehicle operation, etc.

        3. Information communications means
          Knowing the current location, communicating to clients the locations of the branch offices/sales offices nearest the client, providing property information, traffic information and leisure (recreation) information, etc.

      3. Reasons inhibiting implementation of the Geographic Information System in businesses
      4. According to the questionnaire survey conducted by Keidanren, the main obstacles inhibiting the implementation and utilization of the Geographic Information System by businesses are the high costs associated with organizing, maintaining and updating data, and the lack of data which can be utilized (which can be readily accessed electronically). In order to further promote advanced utilization of the Geographic Information System, the enhancement of data and the reduction of utilization costs are indispensable.

    5. The market size of the Geographic Information System
    6. The need for advanced utilization of the Geographic Information System by the public sector as well as the private sector is great. According to an estimate by the National Spatial Data Infrastructure Promoting Association (NSDIPA), the size of the Geographic Information System-related market (in terms of total sales) is expected to increase from about one trillion yen in 1995 to around four trillion yen in 2005 and to 7.4 trillion yen in 2010 (total market size consisting of individuals, businesses, local governments and national government entities).

  3. Desirable Environment for Geographic Information System Utilization
  4. In order to utilize the Geographic Information System as the "life spatial information infrastructure" of the citizenry, it is vital for the national government, local governments, industry and academia to work together toward effectively organizing spatial data, converting government information into an electronic format to enable electronic disclosure of government information, and inexpensive supplying of government information, as well as the establishment of the environment described below.

    1. Ideal promotion system
      1. The responsible promotion entity must be clarified so that a comprehensive program including policy making, technologies, standardization and human resource training can be promoted for acquisition, processing, accumulation and utilization of spatial data under a long-term strategy for the entire nation.

      2. Spatial data must be organized through a clear division of responsibilities and coordinated effort by all ministries and agencies, local governments, businesses and citizens, and overlapping data compilation must be avoided under any circumstance. In organizing data, the resources and vitality of the private sector must be effectively utilized. The spatial data created are to be shared and mutually used.

    2. Standardization based on mutual utilization of data
      1. Core spatial data (nucleus data items which are needed for data sharing in a wide range of applications) and the standard for its meta data (information such as data types, characteristics, quality, acquisition methods) are being established. A creator of core data also creates meta data based on the standard, and registers the core data in a clearinghouse (a system consisting of a database storing information such as data content, accuracy, update period, target area, creator and acquisition method, and a function to retrieve the information). Users are able to verify the accuracy and reliability of each data item from the contents of the meta data.

      2. Both public and private sectors participate in international conferences on standardization of the Geographic Information System so that domestic standards which fully reflect the vision of international exchange can be established for the network of spatial data.

    3. Making government information available through the network
    4. Information from both national and local governments including map data, ledger data and statistical data are changed into electronic data including updating, and are in general made available electronically through the Internet, taking into consideration both privacy and business secrets. Information created by the government is made available to citizens through the Internet free of charge or at a minimal cost to cover expenses, and citizens are allowed to freely utilize, modify and resell the information.

    5. Supply method of spatial data compiled by private sector
    6. Spatial data compiled by the private sector are supplied with an appropriate fee so that expenses associated with organizing and maintaining the data can be recovered, enabling a continuous supply of highly reliable data.

    7. Creation of related industries
    8. As citizens become able to freely utilize, modify and resell information provided by the government free of charge or at a minimal fee to cover costs, various businesses related to digital maps will be created and expanded, spurred by the vitality of the private sector.

    9. Active and effective use of the Geographic Information System by the government
    10. The government actively implements and utilizes the Geographic Information System as part of its informatization efforts. Spatial data are shared and mutually utilized internally and externally among the ministries, agencies and divisions of the government. Human resources needed to manage, analyze and utilize spatial data through the Geographic Information System are secured and properly trained.

    11. Securing of transparent government
    12. A system is set up in the government where the content of all discussions in meetings and research conferences conducted by the entity responsible for promoting the establishment of the life spatial information infrastructure are disclosed to the public in detail and where the public as well as academia and private industry are able to express their opinions.

  5. Current Situation in the U.S.
  6. Starting with an executive order issued in 1994, the organization of all U.S. spatial data infrastructure has been led by the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) which is empowered with authority across all government departments, and the efforts of the FGDC have produced results. Moreover, copyrights on government information compiled using taxes paid by citizens are as a rule waived, making it possible to collect spatial data without charge or at a minimal fee. Today, businesses which provide value-added government information are expanding.

    1. National efforts in the U.S.
    2. The U.S. government considers spatial data to be important content and positions the spatial data as a core information infrastructure for an information society along with the high speed communications infrastructure, making the construction of a "Digital Earth" one of the most important government policies.

    3. Empowerment to coordinate organization based on executive order
    4. A detailed survey by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on spatial data compiled at the federal level in the 1980s found the existence of many overlapping expenditures. The federal government promptly established the FGDC as a coordinating organization, but due to a lack of clear direction concerning the compilation of spatial data at the federal level, several dozen data formats were adopted within the government and by each state, resulting in an enormous expense for mutual utilization of data by government organizations and the states. Learning from these experiences, the "U.S. Spatial Data Infrastructure Execution Order" was issued in 1994 as an executive order, mandating that each government department promote the acquisition, processing, accumulation, distribution and value-added utilization of spatial data, with the FGDC being designated as a coordinating organization with enforcement authority.

    5. Comprehensive policies aiming for U.S. spatial data infrastructure establishment
    6. Aiming for comprehensive promotion of spatial data infrastructure establishment, the FGDC is making an effort to develop technologies, standardize data and technologies and train human resources with the cooperation of United States Geological Survey (USGS) as well as each government department. The FGDC has been given authority over other government departments in which the FGDC determines a government office to take charge of production, management and updating of map data, and enforces strict compliance with standards set by the FGDC for all the data to be created by the federal government in the future. Moreover, the FGDC controls the budget for establishment of a clearinghouse and appoints full-time staff members to operate the clearinghouse.

    7. Partnership between the federal government and local governments
    8. Local governments have already executed 1,500 pilot projects in which meta data complying with FGDC standards have been produced, demonstrating the coordination between the federal government and local governments in establishing meta data.

    9. Inspection of surveying quality
    10. The USGS discontinued the surveying and map creation manual, and today conducts only examinations of the accuracy of the map which is the final product.

    11. Actively making government information available electronically
    12. A declaration to widely disclose information possessed by the government in order to rejuvenate the private market was included in the information superhighway initiative. Disclosure of spatial information such as maps is also included in the declaration, and the government is actively engaged in an effort to make such spatial data available to the public. Copyrights to data created by the federal government are in general waived, making it possible to distribute the information with a minimum charge to cover reproduction costs. Some of the spatial data are being disclosed free of charge as a policy.

    13. Creation of industries utilizing the vitality of the private sector
    14. As a result of the series of efforts described above, a spatial data service industry is developing which adds value to data which was collected free of charge or at a minimal fee from the government.

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