Spatial NSDI Saves Money In UAE

GIS-Driven National Spatial Data Infrastructure Realizes Amazing Cost and Efficiency Benefits in UAE

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is one of the beautiful cultural sites in the UAE that is included in the NSDI. Cataloging these and many other features helps NCEMA reduce risk nationwide.

Nationwide geospatial datasets and associated data sharing framework did not exist in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) prior to 2010. This resulted in significant redundancy in data collection and integration efforts among federal and local government agencies, time and money wasted, and conflicting and erroneous analysis results from poor-quality spatial data. A primary concern at the time was the inability of the UAE National Emergency, Crisis, and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) to respond to a major disaster without an available enterprise  GIS. NCEMA is the federal UAE government agency responsible for national emergency planning, preparedness, and response.

To help resolve the nation’s data sharing and GIS gap, NCEMA, proposed the concept of a National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) to the UAE National Security Council. An NSDI provides a country with robust information technology architecture, an effective policy framework, and an operational spatial data integration and sharing platform for use by stakeholder government agencies and their private-sector partners. NCEMA hired GeoDecisions, with  its national emergency management GIS domain expertise, to assist with the project’s planning and multi-year implementation process.

Services-Oriented Architecture Fosters Growth

It may appear complicated, but a well designed system makes implementation much easier.

One main NSDI objective was to integrate disparate and fragmented spatial datasets maintained by several government agencies into seamless, nationwide datasets using Esri® Data Reviewer, ArcGIS for Server, and FME. The GeoDecisions team then collaborated with NCEMA’s Information and Communication Technology Department to design a Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) that could grow and mature with NCEMA’s requirements. Leveraging the ArcGIS Platform, a suite of data management, mapping, and analysis web services were exposed supporting other applications and contributing stakeholder agencies. An accessible web portal offers a wide range of data visualization, operational, and emergency management support tools.

Delineating an effective governance structure for the NSDI, associated policies, and standard operating procedures occurred in parallel with the technical platform implementation.   GeoDecisions’ recommended governance framework provided NCEMA with an achievable roadmap to broaden the project’s constituency in meaningful ways, in conjunction with well-defined data sharing and 

Quantifiable Business Results

Since the start of the project, GeoDecisions has successfully integrated more than 140 spatial datasets from nearly 30 government agencies supporting an enterprise geodatabase comprised of more than 5.5 million features. For the first time at a nationwide level beginning in 2012, NCEMA and NSDI stakeholder agencies could access and leverage several dozen authoritative spatial datasets for mapping and analyses related to their public safety and other business operations. Additionally, government agencies no longer spend their own budgets to build readily-available data.

Key Benefits

  • Nationwide map data
  • Enterprise-wide GIS approach to disaster response
  • Esri platform providing flexibility/growth potential
  • Increased communication and collaboration throughout UAE
  • Nationwide cost savings and increased operational efficiencies.