Aiming to Build a Life Spatial Information Infrastructure
--Suggestions for Advanced Utilization of Geographic Information System--
In order to overcome the widely spreading feeling of sluggishness, to improve citizens' lives, to assure the international competitiveness of industries and to revitalize the economy in preparation for the 21st century, it is vital to improve the overall efficiency and convenience of Japanese society through advanced utilization of the information communications network. This is because informatization enables speedy data collection and data sharing by individuals and organizations, resulting in greater creativity by individuals and improvement in the efficiency and speed at which governments and businesses execute services. At the same time, advanced utilization of the information communications network becomes a powerful tool for new business opportunities and for the creation of employment opportunities.
Meanwhile, the need for utilization of the Geographic Information System, a system which integrates management and processing of various information on computers by means of electronic maps, is growing rapidly. Socio-economic activities are being conducted in every living space of citizens, and the fusion of electronic maps with various information related to government, economics and the environment through the Geographic Information System enables visual understanding and analysis of socio-economic activities, enabling comprehensive judgments to be made.
In particular, utilization of the Geographic Information System plays a significant role in industry and government. In government administration, the Geographic Information System improves work efficiency, improves services for citizens and demonstrates the effectiveness of disaster prevention efforts and emergency measures during disasters. Hopes are high that use of the Geographic Information System by businesses, which are striving to develop and make available products and services accurately reflecting the needs of consumers, will bring about strategic management decisions and enable improvement in the efficiency and speed of work execution, resulting in an enhancement of competitiveness. Moreover, it is expected that a new database industry and content business related to electronic maps will be created, and that employment opportunities will be expanded through promotion of advanced utilization of the Geographic Information System.
The Geographic Information System is an indispensable tool for assuring the safety of citizens and for improving citizens' lives, and the data about maps, government, economics and the environment which are the foundation of Geographic Information System utilization form an indispensable social infrastructure which may appropriately be termed the "life spatial information infrastructure."
The efficacy of the Geographic Information System, which fuses maps with various information, is further increased by constructing the actual world more precisely in cyberspace, leading to a "spatial information society" where the rich and comfortable lifestyles of citizens are achieved based on the life spatial information infrastructure. For this reason, organization and disclosure of spatial data such as maps, ledgers and statistics which are the basis of Geographic Information System utilization becomes an immediate issue to be addressed.
In September 1995, the government established the Coordination Meeting of Ministries and Agencies Related to the Geographic Information System (GIS) in an effort to organize and make widely available the Geographic Information System as well as the national land spatial data infrastructure (map data and position reference information which supports the Geographic Information System, as well as spatial data in table format such as statistical information related to national lands which is to be utilized widely with the Geographic Information System.)
However, information on socio-economic activities maintained by the government is currently not organized well nor disclosed in a manner that allows citizens to utilize it easily and flexibly. Meanwhile, buildings in Japan are becoming taller as well as deeper underground accompanying efforts to effectively use Japan's extremely limited land, creating an ever increasing need for three dimensional maps. The government has an immediate responsibility to respond to this need. To begin with, the organization of land registries, which provide basic land information, is lagging far behind, particularly in urban areas. The government needs to act immediately to organize land registry information.
After clearly defining the respective roles of government and private industry, the government, in the near future, needs to effectively organize basic data relating to geography and create an environment in which citizens and businesses can utilize the Geographic Information System according to their individual needs by acquiring this government information free of charge or with minimal fees. Moreover, the government needs to actively utilize the Geographic Information System to improve services offered to citizens. Spurred by such urgency, the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren) has compiled suggestions for the establishment of an ideal environment for advanced utilization of the Geographic Information System, or equivalently, the establishment of the "life spatial information infrastructure" for citizens.