PHILIPSBURG – Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) Miklos Giterson recently attended, along with Secretary General Louis Brown, the Latin America Geospatial Forum held in Mexico City, Mexico. The forum, which saw representatives from over forty countries, gathered under the theme: Geospatial Information: Making a Difference for Millions. This forum is the largest regional conference on geospatial information and technologies and it provided a platform to meet and network with regional leaders and experts from the geospatial domain.
Minister Giterson explains, “The forum provided great insight into many different areas in which geospatial information technology is being used to acquire, manipulate, and store geographic information. There were a number of interesting sessions at the forum; two focusses that were of particular interest to me were the symposiums on Climate Change & Natural Disasters and Construction & Engineering. These sessions were very timely given Sint Maarten’s, and all small island developing state’s, vulnerability to climate change and the resulting increase of natural disasters that we are now faced with.”
During the symposium on Climate Change and Natural Disasters it was discussed and demonstrated how geospatial information can be used to develop national strategic plans that can help in measuring the environmental, social and economic impact of natural disasters. Also discussed at that symposium was the use of geostatistical networks for monitoring biodiversity and climate change and geostatistical solutions for the study of territorial and environmental dynamics. The Constructing and Engineering session focused on moving countries towards more resilient planning and a better design of infrastructure. It also touched on ways to operate and maintain infrastructure efficiently and effectively as well as post-disaster infrastructure reconstruction and recovery.
Minister Giterson believes that attendance at this forum was of particular importance since it tied perfectly to the National Spatial Data Infrastructure consultation session the VROMI Ministry held in August with a number of community stakeholders. One of the main goals of that consultation session was to discuss the importance of sharing each organization’s GIS layer in order to create maps with more accurate and detailed information.
In its completed state the National Geographic Information System of St. Maarten will feature information on all established zoning plans, protected monuments, issued permits, and countless other geospatial data features that may be useful for planning, policy development, enterprise asset management and other purposes. This system will be particularly beneficial to institutions that require accurate and current digital geographic information about St. Maarten to increase their service efficiency and effectiveness.