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MENA nations could unlock hundreds of billions by investing in mapping data

Governments across the MENA could improve their economies by hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue by improving their mapping services, according to a new report

Improved mapping data would also increase nations’ abilities to respond to global pandemics GB Ordnance Survey runs largest – and most accurate – map database in world Now working with MENA nations to review their geospatial capabilities

Governments across the MENA could improve their economies by hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue by improving their mapping services according to a new report.

Upgraded geospatial data would also help nations in the region in fighting challenges such as population growth, climate change, and dealing with pandemics, according to the ‘See Your Nation’s Potential’ Report from the UK’s mapping agency Ordnance Survey (OS). 

Peter Hedlund, OS International Managing Director, said: “Geospatial information helps us to tackle the biggest problems of our time – and capitalize on the greatest opportunities – by making it possible to monitor, measure, predict and adapt effectively. Government spending on geospatial information is a high-impact investment in a nation’s long-term economic health, with benefits 3.2 times larger than the costs.”

For over 200 years, OS has mapped every inch of Great Britain, first on paper and now digitally in 3D using geospatial data.  Its National Geographic Database, the largest –and most accurate –of its kind in the world, contains over 500 million unique geographic features and updates the data with more than 20,000 changes every single day.

OS is already working with governments in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Bahrain to help improve their geospatial infrastructure and enabling them to realize economic, societal, and environmental benefits.

Dubai Municipality is using OS’ Geospatial Maturity Assessment to help realize the Dubai government vision ‘to make Dubai the happiest city on Earth’. The report further grows the Municipality’s leadership status within the Emirate, by providing them with the potential to deliver significant societal, environmental, and economic benefits in areas such as urban planning, safety and security, sustainable development, and environmental protection – all of which rely on geospatial data.

Peter added: “Building national digital base maps is a core process in enabling your nation’s digital economy to flourish, but base maps are also a fundamental enabler in providing the most basic of government services, including establishing property ownership, allocating resources, and planning infrastructure.”

“Take for example, the first 3D-enabled national spatial data model for the Kingdom of Bahrain we created with the Survey and Land Registration Bureau (SLRB) mapping authority. As part of theNational 3D Mapping of Bahrain’ program, it supports Kingdom-wide data sharing, analysis, and decision-making.”

As well as boosting GDP, the report claims improved geospatial data can help nations secure long-term food and water security, increase productivity and resource availability, predict and mitigate the effects of climate change, rebuild after disasters, as well as generate billions in returns from the establishment of secure land rights, and unlock the benefits of technologies like 5G, autonomous vehicles and smart cities.

OS has harnessed major advances in technology which allow it to capture huge volumes of digital mapping data via surveyors and planes and using cloud-based processing and AI interpretation to make geospatial data ever more accurate.

This has led to a huge growth in location-based commercial services. From our commute to work, the tools we use in the office, the social media platforms we use, to the parcels, meals, and cabs we order online; all could not function without this highly detailed OS data.

The value of the global geospatial market in 2020 was put at $439 billion. But this report identifies that without access to this technology, the accuracy of geospatial data varies hugely from country to country and the report states that some economies – such as Canada – have seen growth of up 1.2% after improving their geospatial information capabilities.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted how geospatial data has become an essential component of disease prediction, prevention, and response. 

The analysis of spatial big data that traces people’s movements go hand in hand with digital mapping technologies to predict human behavior and better respond to the potential spread of viruses.

Peter Hedlund concludes: “Investment in geospatial information is an essential component in helping governments to make progress towards all the tenets of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and in increasing their income and economic health. Geospatial information is the cross-sector catalyst that enables nations to reach the next level with some economies seeing growth of up to 1.2% GDP after improving their geospatial Information capabilities.

“As geospatial comes of age, there has never been a better time for countries to seize the opportunity to get an honest appraisal of their capabilities, take advantage of the many funding opportunities available and take the next steps in their journey to geospatial maturity.”

Along with the report, OS has launched a tool to help countries identify their ‘Geospatial maturity’ level. The tool measures the level of sophistication that a country has in its use of geospatial information and technology, and the value derived from it.