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

II. Particular Discussion: Problems and Direction of Action in Japan

In the questionnaire survey conducted by Keidanren, many of the respondents pointed out that the problems that need to be addressed quickly by the government include the conversion of map data, statistical data and ledger data maintained by the government into an electronic database and the disclosure of the database through electronic media; the establishment of an infrastructure for sharing and mutually utilizing GIS; and the reevaluation of a system for map digitalization. In the near-term future, the national government, local governments, the private sector and academia must work together, each fulfilling their respective responsibilities, to establish the desired environment for the aforementioned GIS utilization by executing the following actions within three years.

  1. Organization of Life Spatial Information Infrastructure Comprehensively and with Concentrated Effort
  2. The life spatial information infrastructure is an infrastructure indispensable for assuring safety in and improving the quality of citizens' lives, for improving the efficiency and convenience of government services, for strategic decision making by industry, and for the development of a content industry. Moreover this is important content for ushering in an advanced information society, and in the U.S., for example, the entire nation is promoting the establishment of this infrastructure. Meanwhile, the Japanese government established the Coordination Meeting of Ministries and Agencies Related to the Geographic Information System (GIS) in which 22 ministries and agencies participate under the leadership of the Cabinet's Internal Affairs Council Office, which is unprecedented action by the government. However, the division of responsibilities among ministries and agencies, the placement and scope of responsibilities, and the division of responsibilities among the national government, local governments and the private sector are not necessarily clear. Moreover, the establishment of the infrastructure is not progressing as fast as the private sector desires. The establishment of the "life spatial information infrastructure" must be promoted comprehensively and with concentrated effort in the near-term future to enable advanced and wide utilization of the Geographic Information System by government and industry while eliminating overlapping expenditures, and the creation of a system to ensure the establishment of the "life spatial information infrastructure" is an issue that urgently needs to be addressed.

    1. Major roles of the public and private sectors
    2. In order to accurately reproduce the real world in cyberspace, the organization of information which is shared by everyone, including standard points, reference points, road boundaries, government boundaries, rivers, altitudes, public facilities and house shapes, out of all place-related information that is spatial data, and the creation of an environment for mutual utilization are urgently needed. It is important that industry, government and academia coordinate their efforts to promote the organization of spatial data from the point of view of the citizens in the near- term future.

      1. The role of private industry
        1. Private industry must strive to develop and provide products and services accurately reflecting market needs (creating/updating of spatial data, spatial data products, geographic information systems, spatial data utilization services, etc.). Data maintenance should be undertaken as often as needed by clients, while taking costs into consideration. New businesses related to GIS may encompass areas not expected at present, and hence a system in which opportunities to enter the market are continuously made available to newcomers is necessary.

        2. Advanced utilization of GIS will be promoted with sufficient consideration given to assuring privacy. The spatial data together with its format, including map data created by the private sector, must be disclosed. At the same time, information concerning utilization methods and the like must be provided to GIS users.

        3. Private industry should actively make suggestions concerning the environment which is necessary for smooth organization and utilization of spatial data, and should coordinate with academia to create opportunities for discussions with government as often as possible.

      2. The role of the public sector
        1. In order to eliminate overlapping expenditures, the scope of core data to be organized by the national government and by local governments should be determined. For instance, examples of core data include standard points and electronic standard points (basis points for surveying; these are points for which the location and the altitude on the earth are accurately determined and which are needed for the creation of accurate maps), reference points (points with latitude and longitude values which are measured from the standard points in order to control position information; these are points which do not possess absolute coordinate values as significant as the standard points, and which are mainly placed at the center of major road intersections), boundary data (road boundaries, river boundaries, coastal lines, altitudes, road center lines, railroad center lines, river center lines, administrational districts/census districts/land registries, etc.), and position reference information (information related to geographical position and space used for accurately connecting spatial data to position and range on the map data; for example, addresses and physical locations). Creators of core data should be mandated to organize meta data complying with meta data standards, and sharing and mutual utilization of spatial data by the private sector also should be made possible.

        2. In order to further promote organization of a GIS basic map, a survey of land registries, which is the most basic information on land, must be promoted at the national level. For areas where the land registry survey is lagging behind, it is important to execute priority surveys such as public and private boundaries and the like which are the most essential information. Ideally, land registry maps with well defined boundaries should be used for official maps, but the substitution of land address current status maps created from current status topographical maps such as urban planning maps and road planar view maps may be considered until the land registry survey is conducted.

        3. In order to organize detailed spatial data, the infrastructure data such as urban planning maps being prepared by local governments should be organized based on data standards and meta data standards established by the national government.

    3. Enhancement of promotion system
    4. In order to organize the life spatial information infrastructure comprehensively and with concentrated effort, the responsible institutions that are to take charge of spatial data infrastructure organization must be clearly defined, and related personnel in the national government, local governments, the private sector and academia should unite their efforts to advance the work.

      1. A promotion method should be established with a limited term to organize the life spatial information infrastructure comprehensively and with concentrated effort. The promotion method should aim for establishment of a clear, long-range vision, establishment of a concrete organization plan, creation of a professional promotion organization with priority authority to define the roles and scope of responsibilities of the national government and local governments and to coordinate each ministry and agency, and clarification of the functions of the professional promotion organization.

      2. The professional promotion organization should be given an independent budget, authority to enforce decisions in each ministry and agency, and functions enabling it for example to promote mutual coordination of ministries and agencies in organizing the life spatial information infrastructure including related budget distribution, to monitor and correct overlapping expenditures, to promote standardization of spatial data and the availability of such through electronic media, and to promote cooperation between the public sector and the private sector. Moreover, office personnel for the professional promotion organization should be selected from among professional people, including hiring staff from the private sector.

      3. Budgets related to the Geographic Information System should be maintained for each project rather than for each ministry and agency with an agreement to share results, which preferably will encourage joint participation by ministries and agencies in such projects.

  3. Active Utilization of the Geographic Information System by the Public Sector
  4. The government should actively utilize the Geographic Information System in order to realize an electronic government. Moreover, the government should strive to avoid overlapping expenditures on organization of the spatial data by promoting the sharing and mutual utilization of spacial data with clearly defined roles and responsibilities for each ministry, agency and department.

    1. Utilization of the Geographic Information System
      1. The national government as well as local governments should actively utilize the Geographic Information System to improve the efficiency of office work, to improve services offered to citizens and to develop sound communities. Moreover, government entities should actively utilize digital maps when using maps for public procurement.

      2. A system should be created to evaluate and disclose improvements in efficiency resulting from informatization of the government including use of the Geographic Information System. For example, changes in staff assignments and organizational responses (reduction in turn around time for approvals, speeding up of services offered to citizens, etc.) could be used as the basis for such evaluation.

      3. The government should create maps based on mutual utilization by the pubic sector and the private sector, and should also actively utilize maps created by the private sector.

    2. Sharing of spatial data
      1. When each department of the government uses the Geographic Information System, the government should implement and utilize a system which enables sharing and mutual utilization of the data among ministries, agencies and departments. At the same time, standards should be established for the sharing of spatial data within the government and a main entity to organize and manage data should be clearly defined so that each department can share data and discontinue creation and usage of independent map data.

      2. It is necessary to establish standards on interfaces, definitions of data, etc. so that citizens can share data to the extent possible. Moreover, the government should disclose specifications (form, format) of databases owned by the government and should promote effective informatization processes including the outsourcing of system installation and administration services to private firms in accordance with the principles of free participation and free competition.

      3. Standardization of geographic information should be promoted while taking international trends into consideration with the future possibility of international distribution through the network.

    3. Training of human resources
    4. A system to train human resources who can manage and analyze spatial data and can apply such data to government processes must be organized, and the human resources that are trained should be actively utilized.

  5. Organization of Conditions for Utilization of Government Information by the Private Sector
  6. One merit of the Geographic Information System is that it allows for the combination of map data with various information for management and analysis, and enhancement of information which can be combined is indispensable for advanced utilization of the Geographic Information System. "The results of the questionnaire survey concerning GIS" conducted by Keidanren revealed that map information acquired on-line is a mere 15% of the total information acquired, and about 20% is acquired by staff personally visiting, perusing and copying information from government offices which maintain the information. This indicates that the disclosure and supply of government information through computer networks is still not satisfactory.
    The government has the authority to collect information needed for government work and maintains a large quantity of spatial data, and hence, it is extremely important to make government information available in promoting advanced utilization of government information and in efficiently organizing the life spatial information infrastructure. Utilization of government information by the private sector and making government information available through computer networks should be promoted to allow flexible access to government information by the private sector, free of charge or at a minimal fee.

    1. Promotion of government information utilization by the private sector
      1. There are some problems in government information utilization, such as (a) the types and locations of government information are difficult for citizens to understand, and (b) information disclosure criteria by local governments are not standardized. These are concerns in achieving satisfactory utilization of government information by the private sector. Hopes are high that the Information Disclosure Act currently being considered on the Diet floor will be enacted soon. Moreover, the national and local governments should reevaluate handling processes for information that is not currently disclosed, and should establish necessary and concrete work procedures concerning disclosure of such information based on protection of private information and corporate secrets.

      2. There are no rules regarding copyrights on government information except for Article 13 of the Copyright Act which states, "copyright protection does not apply to notifications, instructions, orders and the like issued by the national government or by local governments." Information created using tax monies paid by citizens is the property of the citizens, and hence, copyrights should be limited and fees to cover copyrights should not be charged for government information. Moreover, utilization of government databases should not be restricted to special people but should be made available to as many citizens as possible, free of charge or at a minimal fee, regardless of the purpose of usage, in order to promote industrial expansion based on flexible use of government information.

      3. Today, the results of basic surveys and public surveys may be copied and used free of charge as long as approval is obtained from the director of the Geographical Survey Institute. However, such results should be made available to the private sector for copying and utilization regardless of the purpose of such usage.

    2. Promotion of computerization of government information and making such available through computer networks
    3. Citizens and businesses have an increasing need for the computerization of government information and the offering of such through computer networks, but action by the government is lagging behind. Moreover, most privacy protection acts at the local government level contain online connection prohibition clauses, making it impossible to exchange data among local governments, or among local governments, the national government and the private sector.
      In the future, the government needs to computerize all government information including past documents and make all government information available through computer networks while taking measures to protect private information and corporate secrets. The computerization of government information should be an open system where citizens are in principle able to freely access and use the information. Moreover, an information service for finding the location of government information should be provided. Furthermore, basic maps such as urban planning maps, national land numerical value information, digital road maps, land registry maps and the like should be made available electronically at a minimal fee. Reevaluation of online connection prohibition clauses by local governments is also desirable.

  7. Reevaluation of Systems and Customary Practices That Do Not Assume Digitalization
  8. Given technology innovations such as the development of digital technologies, legal systems and customary practices based on analog technology should be reevaluated as soon as possible.

    1. Promotion of effective map use
    2. Electronic maps enable easy enlargement and reduction in size as well as the attachment of attributes to each component, and hence, standards for the creation of legal documents should be reevaluated and indiscriminate requirements for a specific display scale should be replaced by a requirement for a minimum accuracy in development license application attachment drawings based on the Urban Development Act, application document attachment drawings, road ledger drawings based on the Road Act, and the like.

    3. Promotion of flexible adaptation of the results of technological innovations
      1. Due to advancements in surveying technology spurred by technological innovations, traditional surveying executed mainly by the government is becoming less significant. In the future, efficient organization of spatial data that becomes the basis of advanced utilization of the Geographic Information System will require the organization and effective mutual utilization of survey results by many institutions including the private sector. With the increasing number of versatile and highly accurate surveying projects conducted by the private sector, the inspection of surveying methods should be replaced by product evaluation so that utilization of the results of such private sector surveying by the government and implementation of new technologies can be promoted. Moreover, implementation of proper self-certification processes should be considered.

      2. Given improvements in surveying technologies and the development of digital technologies, the requirement for the presence of survey engineers should be eased for example in cases exclusively involving the arrangement of digital maps.

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