NGAs Adapt to a Changing World


The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everything in life until they are indistinguishable from it.

Mark Weiser, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, 1991

Opening the penultimate session of the National Mapping Summit with the famous quote, Nicholas Brown, Head of Office, United Nations Global Geodetic Centre of Excellence addressed how important technologies like the internet, power supply and satellite services have weaved seamlessly into our lives.

What would modern life look like without accurate and reliable satellite services? What would happen if someone knocked out the GPS? He asked.

The world would spiral in a day.

He added, “GPS is a critical infrastructure. 15 of 18 critical infrastructure and key resources sectors rely on GPS (Global Positioning System) like telecommunications, emergency services and financial exchanges. Loss of GPS or Galileo in Europe can have catastrophic effects on the economy and infrastructure.

Global Geodesy Supply Chain

Over the next decade, revenue from GNSS, Earth Observation and Satellite Communications (that includes 80% of the space industry market revenue) has a growth rate of 9%.

“There is a hidden risk that some member states, space agencies and satellite operators aren’t aware of but threaten the use of satellites and its applications. This is where Global Geodesy Supply Chain play an important role. Strengthening this supply chain is crucial.”

The global geodesy supply chain is a collection of ground station observatories, data centres, analysis centres, and people who create satellite intelligence products. These products are necessary for people and machines on Earth to transmit and receive information accurately and reliably between Earth and space.

He emphasized by saying, “A Joint Development Plan for the Global Geodesy can address the weakness of the Global Geodesy Supply Chain. This plan will include activities for UN-GGCE, Member states and partners. Three main requirements to be focused on- 1. Stabilize the supply chain 2. Make it more Robust 3. Make it Next Gen.

Evolving Mandates of NGAs

The traditional role of NGAs as data collectors is evolving. They are increasingly taking on broader mandates, including Data Management and Stewardship, Policy Development and Advocacy and collaboration with international partners.

Eric Loubier, Director General, Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation Canadian Mapping Agency talks about how governments react to the evolving nature of these NGAs. He said, “For navigating new horizons one needs innovations and strategies for evolving priorities. These include funding for programs like the Canadian Wildland Fire Strategy, Flood Hazard Identification and Mapping program, EO for cumulative effects etc. There needs to be prioritization for funding the core geospatial data.”

Adding onto the necessity of the evolving mandates, Muh Aris Marfai, Head, Badan Informasi Geospasial (BIG), Indonesia said,” Our Base-maps can be trusted and authoritative foundation data in terms of quality and other parameters. We plan to move beyond data collection and into a National Mapping Agency. ”

NGAs are increasingly recognizing the importance of understanding and responding to user needs. They are shifting their focus from simply collecting data to developing demand-driven knowledge products and services.

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