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Speech by the Principal Assistant Secretary (Planning and Lands)1, Ms Diane Wong, attending the 1st Annual Seminar on Spatial Information Science and Technology (English only)

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to attend the 1st Annual Seminar on Spatial Information Science and Technology, and to speak on "the Future of Geographical Information Systems (GISs) in HK". I wish to introduce the Government's initiatives to align the exchange of planning, lands and works data.

Data Exchange

GISs are effective tools to assist the Bureau and the Departments in policy formulation and implementation. Having regard to similar overseas experiences, like the States and other nations, operational difficulties could be encountered when various GISs have been developed by different agents over the years, without a central coordinated plan across the departments. Locally, departmental users employ systems of different stages of development in capturing, updating and analyzing geographic data. We appreciate the genuine need to exchange planning, lands and public works data generated from their systems, with a view to addressing individual needs or collaboration needs. While the data are separately collected, stored or produced in individual departments, improvements could be made to address the deficiencies arising from data definition, data in digital format, compatibility of data format, data quality, data cost and turn around time.

Data Alignment Strategy (DAS)

In early 2000, the then Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau started an initiative to align the exchange of planning, lands and works data among different departments. As recommended in a Consultancy Study, the Data Alignment Strategy (DAS) initiative, which is a complementary policy conforming to the overall e-Government policy as stated in Digital 21 Strategy promulgated by the Government, has been adopted. The Strategy consists of two parts: Data Alignment Measures (DAM) and Data Alignment Framework (DAF). DAM consist of short-term measures providing quick relief within about a year. I will return to this shortly. DAF is a comprehensive data-sharing framework for long-term solution. It aims to develop the framework with reference to the international modern practices, including the key features in spatial data infrastructures of leading countries on GISs.

DAM

DAM are to address the pressing data exchange problems within the 12 participating departments under the purview of the Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau, the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau, and the Financial Services and Treasury Bureau. The DAM project commenced on 16 October 2002 and was completed in March 2004. The participating departments agreed to proceed with the implementation of six DAM solutions. A Situation Analysis Review will be conducted afterwards to evaluate the effectiveness and benefits of the different measures in DAM. The Final Report is accessible through our Bureau's website.

In summary, the DAM initiatives include -

(a) Common Spatial Units: To solve the data definition problems, Common Spatial Unit is established for some commonly exchanged geospatial data among the participating departments;

(b) Symbology for graphic entities: Departments will have the autonomy to adopt the symbology standards as defined by source agents (for example CSU Data Owners), or choose their own symbols for specific presentation purposes;

(c) Standard on file formats for date exchange: This is to streamline file conversion through standardizing file formats for the exchange of data;

(d) Management Framework: The Final Report recommended a DAS Task Force and a DAM Management Committee to take forward the DAS implementation in the Government. In the long run, the organizational framework for the DAM consultancy study will be maintained to oversee the ongoing tasks of DAM implementation until the completion of the Situation Analysis Review; and

(e) Metadata catalogue service and Metadata production tools: To facilitate data sharing, proper metadata should be prepared conforming to Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Standard and deposited at the MetaCatalogue System (MCS) in the Land Information Centre of Lands Department.

DAM are the first major initiative to align GIS data among government departments and we cannot under-estimate the complexity of the project. Subject to review, the follow-up Situation Analysis Review will likely be carried out in 2006 to evaluate the effectiveness, savings and benefits of the different measures in DAM. I hope we could report our further achievements to you in the future.

The DAM implementation project costs solely $8.25 million. The total GIS data conversion and system revamping cost of 5 departments is $16m while the cost of the Data Dissemination System for CSU is at $4.5m. Excluding the staff costs, the Government has invested about $29m into this DAM pilot test. We believe that despite the remarkable cost, the benefits are enormous, especially in the light of the synergy of the public sector and the GIS practitioners in the private sector.

Thank you very much.


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