The first Symposium on National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) in Oman was launched on May 1, 2019, at the Ballroom of Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, under the patronage of HE Shaikh Saif Bin Mohammed Al Shabibi, Minister of Housing.
The NSDI symposium, which was organized by National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), under the motto "Enabling GEO Smart Oman", aims to provide a unique opportunity for Oman NSDI stakeholders in Government, Semi Government entities, Private Businesses, and academic entities to acknowledge the latest technological trends in the Spatial Data Infrastructure field. In his welcome message, His Excellency Dr. Khalifa Al Barwani, CEO of NCSI, stated that "the world has witnessed a tremendous development in the last decade in the information utilization, in general, and the spatial data infrastructure, in particular." "This improvement has been driven by technical progress, the telecommunication development, the spread of the smart phones and the social media globally. In many countries, there is no need to spend time waiting at a public telecommunication centre in order to connect or to subscribe to a particular network service, to book a hotel room or access a venue of an event or any forum. All these services and several other daily needs are easily carried out by spatial applications available on the smart phones to save effort, time and money." In light of the global trends toward service improvement, the symposium on national spatial data infrastructure in the Sultanate enables us to outline the path towards a strategy of the national economy based on knowledge, information and spatial services, Al Barwani added. He pointed that since the beginning of the 90s, the Sultanate has realized the importance of geographical dimension in the planning of the national infrastructure projects and its importance in following up the implementation of these projects. Accordingly, the Sultanate has set up a land management system to support the stages of total and detailed planning of land use, in order to ensure the sustainable investment of the natural resources of the country.
In view of the large expansion of infrastructure projects in the country, the Sultanate recently reviewed its existing work system of the government agencies operating in the spatial information sector. The Royal Decree No. 40/2014 was issued on the System of The National Centre for Statistics and Information, while a national spatial data infrastructure has been established under the supervision of NCSI, in coordination with the concerned governmental authorities in the Sultanate, Al Barwani added. He explained that the cooperation of NCSI with the governmental entities in the field of NSDI aims to organize and develop the work in the same field through the consolidation of efforts, technical standards and policies, so as to improve the level of access to e-government services by adding spatial dimension to these services, contributing to the activation of various service sectors, and encouraging investment in the field of spatial information and technology. He also confirmed that the founding of national spatial data infrastructure in the Sultanate is considered to be a part of the Government's approach to the full transformation of the electronic services. The NSDI Symposium highlights and discusses several practical ideas and innovative methods in developing and enhancing the maximum utilization of geospatial information, which will contribute to the better management of infrastructure projects in Oman and help accelerate the delivery of services to a largest number of beneficiaries in effective cost, he added. The symposium also aims to raise awareness and enhance knowledge on national spatial data infrastructure and how to utilize it by all society sectors, especially academic researchers, graduates, university students and job seekers. This target can be achieved through the policy of Open data for geographic information, which enables the concerned categories to plan their small and medium-scale technical projects in the field of service and real estate activities, he pointed out. Barwani revealed that the event will witness the launch of Government Licensing Agreement (GLA) made between Government of Oman and Esri Global Inc. This agreement provides several benefits to governmental and semi-governmental entities in the Sultanate of Oman by enabling access to unlimited number of ESRI technologies by all GIS users in Oman. It also enhances the national capacities improvement and develops the skills of staff and specialists on how to use such software.
The agreement also provides specialized technical advisory services to support SME projects in the field of geographical information systems, as well as supports educational institutions and job seekers on how to obtain direct training courses through the company's virtual network. Hence it gives me great pleasure to thank the members of the negotiating team and ESRI officials for their efforts to conclude this agreement, Al-Barwani added. He concluded his message by thanking HE Shiekh, the Minister of Housing, for his patronage of the opening of this symposium and thanked all the distinguished guests for attending the event and those who contributed to organizing the symposium's activities successfully. The symposium agenda included presenting of several working papers and researches such as a paper titled "Oman NSDI - Geo-Enabling Way Forward for Smart Governance" presented by Eng. Hassan Al Ghazali, Director General of National Spatial Data Infrastructure.
A paper titled "GIS- inspiring what's Next", was presented by Mr. Dean Angelides, Hear Esri's Corporate Director. He highlighted how GIS continues to evolve and transform organizations around the world. A paper title "Oman NSDI: Data to Services" was presented by Saud Al-Nofli, Director of spatial data at the National Centre for Statistic Information, on the current Oman NSDI services and how stakeholders can benefits from them. A paper titled "Unified Addressing System: A driver for Geo-Enabled Digital Transformation" was presented by Eng. Amal Al Sabtiya, the technical director of the Unified Addressing System Project at NCSI. It explained the unified addressing system project being executed by NCSI to support the digital spatial transformation through developing a central spatial database for addressing in the Sultanate and providing addresses for all buildings and facilities. A paper on "A glance on futuristic Geo spatial technology trends" was presented by the researcher Mr. Yehia Hassan, who reviewed how modern technologies have supported the spatial geography, while the new services have created a tremendous numbers of values and made possibility of using the spatial geographic information databases. During the same symposium, Mr. Majid Al Busaidi, Director of operations & technical services at NCSI, presented a paper on the "Government Licensing Agreement Management (GLA), where he explained the benefits of GLA and demonstrated the GLA Management System. The GLA agreement also includes the provision of new licenses and maintenance of the currently available licenses through the geographic information systems (GIS), which provides a range of capacity building services aimed to improve the skills of employees and specialists on how to utilize of such software, as well as provide specialized technical advisory services to small and medium size enterprises operating in the field of the spatial data infrastructure.
A paper on GLA Management in title of (How to avail services under GLA), was presented by Mr. Ayman Mahmoud of ESRI License Management, where he focused on the benefits of Esri Education Licensing program, which is part of the GLA and how to utilize Esri Systems to download licenses and avail technical support.