Stakeholders review draft National Policy on Geographic Information; observed to be Govt. bias

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By Kurt Campbell

UG's Susy Lewis explains her comment on the policy to Consultant Valarie Grant. [iNews' Photo]
UG’s Susy Lewis explains her comment on the policy to Consultant Valarie Grant. [iNews’ Photo]
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Stakeholders converged in Georgetown on Wednesday (December 4) to review the draft National Policy on Geographic Information and comments submitted by them on the policy.

The National Policy on Geographic Information provides the necessary framework for identifying key datasets needed for socio-economic development, and specifies the mechanism for data collection, storage and dissemination.

Several comments were reviewed, a process that was smoothly spare-headed by consultant Valarie Grant.

She said a holistic GI Policy is needed that not only aims to institutionalize National GIS but also visualizes a larger thriving GIS eco-system development by which national GI excellence, industry participation, academic push and overall national commitment for GIS is promoted.

“The issue is no longer whether national GIS is required but when national GIS will finally become operational” Grant told the gathering.

Among the comments reviewed at Wednesday’s session was that the document’s introduction should stress the context for policy implementation at both the local and global levels. The call was also made by the Central Housing and Planning Authority for the policy to be grounded in the framework of the national development agenda, which recognizes the use of space to achieving sustainable development.

The participants at the workshop. [iNews' Photo]
The participants at the workshop. [iNews’ Photo]
 It was also observed that the policy having been initiated by the Government is biased in that regard, hence the call was made for the document to be more comprehensive and holistic and for the inclusivity of all groups of geographic information systems (GIS).

Meanwhile, Susy Lewis, a representative from the University of Guyana said that the policy document stated that it will provide the conceptual  framework to support education, research and training however, there was no mention of the role of any institution in that regard.

She urged that the policy must clearly state the plan of action with regards to curriculum development.

During a recent public consultation on the drafting of this policy on October 2, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud underscored the importance of Geographic Information Systems (GSI) – a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of geographical data.

Persaud had said that its use and importance have been recognize at the political, governmental and policy levels and as such it has been determined that these systems are crucial in order to manage development and assess challenges in a smart and holistic way.

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