Namibia soon to have own national geographic portal at NSA

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Alex Mudabeti*

As provided for in the Statistics Act, No. 9 of 2011, the NSA is mandated to establish the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) as the national technical and institutional framework to facilitate the capture, management, maintenance, integration, distribution and use of spatial data. Spatial data or information is data that identifies the location of constructed and natural features on earth with associated characteristics of such location.

Examples of spatial data which are generally found in maps are buildings, boundaries, roads, vegetation, land use, mineral deposits, etc. Characteristics associated with spatial data can be quantitative (size, length, volume, statistics) or qualitative (names, ownership, land use, etc.)

Namibia has taken a simplified strategy to develop a functional NSDI following international standards and best practices. The strategy comprises four major components which must be held together by sustainable funding. These components involve setting up institutional arrangements for developing spatial information; developing requirements for creating and maintaining spatial information; setting up mechanisms for making spatial information accessible and available, and strategic development of technology and applications.

To initially set up mechanisms for making spatial information accessible and available, the NSA is developing a national geographic portal (geoportal) to be called Digital Namibia to fulfil the requirements of the Statistics Act of making spatial data more accessible. Section 47(3) of the Statistics Act states that the Minister responsible for Statistics may establish an electronic metadata catalogue as a component of the NSDI.

A geoportal is a type of web portal used to find and access geographic information and associated geographic services using the internet. The online system to be hosted at the NSA will derive location information from the various offices, ministries and agencies of government. With this milestone, the NSA is repositioning itself to be a relevant national central repository of official statistics as per the Statistics Act. Users of the system will be able to view, superimpose, and evaluate the characteristics of any location of the country where such information is mapped and available in the public domain.

The portal shall consists of 17 data categories or baskets such as environment, demography, education, health, society, business and economy, agriculture and aquaculture, oceanography and marine, disaster risk management, etc.

The NSA is expected to launch the online national portal in August. A national stakeholder appraisal workshop of the map viewer of the portal system was held in Windhoek on June 7. More than 17 government agencies appraised and provided inputs as to the data content of the portal.

It is important to note that the usefulness of the portal will heavily depend on the availability of quality and up-to-date data and continuous maintenance. Therefore all the responsible government data custodians shall unremittingly be organised to maintain their datasets that will feed into the national spatial infrastructure.

• Alex Mudabeti is the manager for NSDI coordination at the Namibia Statistics Agency.

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