Spatial Information for Social Protection and Disaster Management

To assess, monitor and respond to the needs of people affected by both natural disasters and more subtle global and local socio-economic shocks, accurate, up-to-date and fine-grained information about communities and their exposure to hazard is required, particularly given the spatial variability in the characteristics of the land and the its inhabitants.

Effective coordination of response across multiple agencies requires a common understanding of the location, condition and needs of the target population and a shared situational awareness of interventions by government and other actors, based on up-to-date information. As up to 80% of government data contains geospatial information, geography provides a critical and unifying dimension for place based integration and analysis of information. Within geospatial datasets, spatial identifiers (place names and codes) are used to distinguish between the real world features described by the data.

There are typically many duplicative and overlapping geospatial datasets in use and consequently, the same real world feature appears in multiple systems, often with different names, codes and representations. Consequently, it is time-consuming and expensive to discover, access, interpret, transform and integrate information from different sources. Furthermore, when data changes, the process must be repeated.

To reduce time and effort required to integrate place based information from local to global scales, improved approaches to the delivery, integration and use of spatial identifiers is required.

Thank you to Mr Paul Box, Team Leader Spatial Identifier Reference Framework, CSIRO, who recently spoke at the Australian & New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference about one approach to this problem – the Spatial Identifier Reference Framework (SIRF) – being implemented as part of a United Nations Spatial Data Infrastructure (UNSDI) standards and best practices activity.

The SIRF project has an initial focus on social protection in Indonesia and supports national SDI efforts to maintain and publish spatial data but is also intended to support of range of other applications. Paul gave an overview of the proposed infrastructure being developed, briefly describing approaches to indexing of spatial identifiers from existing systems; their integration into a common index; and the use of URI identifiers, linked data and spatial web services to improve delivery and use of identifiers.

The 2014 Australian & New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference will be held at the Hotel Pullman Brisbane, 5th – 7th May 2014.  Call for abstracts will open soon!!  Our sponsorship prospectus is available now if you are interested in partnering or exhibiting at the event click here.