GIS for International Development and Humanitarian Relief

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					                                  GIS for International Development
                                       and Humanitarian Relief
                                                     E - N E W S L E T T E R
                                                                                                   June 2001

                                                      In This Issue
  GIS for International Development and
  Humanitarian Relief is an electronic
  newsletter highlighting useful news and             !   Kosovo Mine Action Center Uses GIS
  information.                                        !   International Master of Science in GIS
  If you would like to change your e-mail address,        Offered at the University of Redlands
  please send a message to All        !   AlertNet
  comments and questions regarding this
                                                      !   ESRI International User Conference
  newsletter can be directed to Carmelle J. Côté,
  ESRI–Washington, D.C., regional office via          !   Interactive Map of Greenhouse Gas
  e-mail to                               Emissions
                                                      !   GIS Day 2001: Are You Ready?
                                                      !   New Literature
                                                      !   Regional News

Kosovo Mine Action Center Uses GIS
                        The Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) has
                        been in use at the Mine Action Co-ordination Centre (MACC) in
                        Kosovo for a year now. As with any implementation of new software,
                        there were problems; however, IMSMA is now working up to, and in
                        many instances exceeding, expectations.

                    IMSMA is an information system that supports the entire mine
action process. It provides the mine action community with both strategic- and
tactical-level tools such as integrated planning and tasking capabilities, visual
representation of all aspects of mine action activities, and a vast data pool for
statistics and advanced geographical analyses. These new tools offer virtually
unlimited possibilities for mine action.

One of the most important advantages of IMSMA is that it can be easily customised
to meet the specific requirements of the various programs. One information system
can never fit the needs of all the MACCs in the world and that has been taken into
consideration when developing IMSMA. Administrators with some knowledge of
computer programming can adjust or increase the functionality of the database or
even create new software that can be connected to the database. Examples of this in
Kosovo were the two new databases developed for the MACC Public Information
Branch, which captured data on mine awareness and victim assistance activities.
These databases were then connected to IMSMA and are an essential part of
integrated planning within the MACC. The IMSMA development team has also
provided excellent support to meet the MACC requirements.

IMSMA is used on a daily basis by all the personnel in the Operations Branch, from
the operations and future operations officers through the operations room assistant.
It forms an integral tool for tasking and planning and is a key reason for the success
achieved to date in Kosovo.

The IMSMA Field Module combines a relational database with geographic information
system (GIS) functionality. Based on the standard software Microsoft Access and
ArcView, the system provides very flexible functionality.
Please refer to the links below for more information and sample maps.

International Master of Science in GIS Offered at the University of Redlands
This M.S. GIS program, with concentration in geographic information analysis and
management, is designed for an international audience of professionals seeking to
improve their knowledge of the analysis and management of geographic information.

Professionals from many fields and cultural backgrounds participate in this program
to enhance their existing academic foundations with comprehensive understanding of
GI Science fundamentals and the use and application of GI technologies. Graduates
of this program can choose to become GIS practitioners prepared for positions as
project managers, applications specialists, and applications software development
team members. Those who continue as professionals in other fields will be fully
competent to integrate GI technologies into their work.

Upon completion of this program, students will be able to

   •   Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the functionality and applications of
       GIS technology.

   •   Express a thorough understanding of the fundamental theory and concepts
       upon which the technology is built.
   •   Explain the principles underlying spatial analysis in all its variations.
   •   Demonstrate high level skills in spatial problem solving and spatial analysis.

   •   Design and implement a substantial GIS project.

   •   Effectively communicate and present project deliverables.

   •   Describe how geographic information is used, managed, and marketed globally.

   •   Demonstrate competence in the use of various ESRI products, including
       ArcGIS, SDE, and ArcIMS, and a functional grasp of Visual Basic

   •   Understand recent and ongoing advances in GI Systems and Science.

   •   Assume continuing independent updating of relevant skills and knowledge.

   •   And either undertake needs analysis, system design, and implementation of
       GIS within organizations (managing GIS option), or design and create GIS
       applications software using object-oriented and other programming languages
       (programming GIS option).

Through elective courses and optional seminars, students may choose to focus their
education toward specialized areas such as environmental management, technical
writing, spatial data librarianship, technology training, software development, or
specific scientific or business application areas.

Instruction will be provided through a mixture of lectures, written exercises,
seminars, practical work in computer labs, and individual and group projects. A final
major project will integrate and demonstrate students’ newly attained knowledge and
skills. Interaction with an international group of instructors and students in an
intensive learning environment will provide a stimulating educational experience and
ensure a global context of relevance to students from around the world.

More information and applications are available at


                    AlertNet provides global news, communications, and logistics
                    services to the international disaster relief community and the
public. With Reuters core skills of speed, accuracy, and freedom from bias and
Reuters 150 years’ experience reporting from disaster zones around the world,
AlertNet gives disaster relief organisations reliable information, fast.

AlertNet also maintains an international register of aid suppliers; a secure
environment in which relief workers in the field can exchange information; databases
of jobs, training, events, and contacts in the disaster relief community; and
background information relevant to disaster relief.

AlertNet uses information efficiently so that the disaster relief community can use
resources efficiently, helping to speed up emergency relief to disasters around the
world. AlertNet has already won one award for technological innovation and
continues to extend its service with cutting-edge technology.

AlertNet is divided into public and professional zones to serve the differing needs of
the public and the disaster relief community.

ESRI International User Conference
The Twenty-first Annual ESRI International
User Conference will take place in July. This
event is the largest and most technically comprehensive GIS conference held all year.
We expect nearly 11,000 ESRI software users from all over the world to come together
on July 9–13, 2001, in the San Diego Convention Center in beautiful San Diego,
California. Gain the skills and connections you need at the largest gathering of GIS
professionals in the world.

ESRI   User Conference dates to remember:
  •    ESRI Education User Conference: July 6–8, 2001
  •    Preconference seminars: July 7–8, 2001
  •    Twenty-first Annual ESRI International User Conference: July 9–13, 2001

For questions regarding the ESRI International User Conference e-mail or look at

This year will be the first User Conference to have a track devoted to
“Humanitarian Affairs and International Development.” We hope that this event
will be a great opportunity to showcase the ways that GIS has made a positive impact
during humanitarian crises and in development efforts throughout the world!

Interactive Map of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

A new interactive map has been launched to assist the Kyoto protocol process in
order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and counter climate change. “Greenhouse
Gases & the Kyoto Protocol” presents data and statistics collected by international

Using the map, any user can now evaluate the current state of emissions and
projections for the future. The data is available both as total emissions and as
emissions per citizen in each country that has signed the Kyoto protocol. It is also
possible to zoom in and examine a specific part of the world more closely or to get a
graph of the emissions covering a period of 20 years.

The presentation in this map provides an easy way to examine the statistics and also
to evaluate the agenda in climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

The Web site was developed by UNEP/GRID–Arendal in Norway, a United Nations
Environment Programme information center; the Web site is also a part of the
UNEP.Net environmental network.

For more information, please contact
Hugo Ahlenius, tel. +47-37035713, e-mail,
Åke Bjørke, tel. +47-37035711, e-mail
Greenhouse Gases & the Kyoto Protocol
GRID–Arendal Web site

GIS Day 2001: Are You Ready?
                             It is not too early to start planning now for GIS Day. It will
                             be November 14, 2001, and will occur during Geography
                             Awareness Week, November 11–17. For more information,
                             please go to

New Literature
Developing Spatial Data Infrastructures: The SDI Cookbook
Version 1.0
July 6, 2000
Editor: Douglas D. Nebert, Technical Working Group Chair, GSDI

An excerpt from Chapter 1: Introduction:

“At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de
Janeiro in 1992, a major resolution was passed to focus on reversing the impacts
caused by environmental deterioration. The Agenda 21 resolution establishes
measures to address deforestation, pollution, depletion of fish stocks, and
management of toxic wastes to name a few. The importance of geographic information
to support decision making and management of these growing national, regional, and
global issues was cited as critical at the 1992 Rio Summit and by a special session of
the United Nations General Assembly assembled in 1997 to appraise the
implementation of the Agenda 21.

Geographic information is vital to make sound decisions at the local, regional, and
global levels. Crime management, business development, flood mitigation,
environmental restoration, community land use assessments, and disaster recovery
are just a few examples of areas in which decision makers are benefiting from
geographic information, together with the associated infrastructures (e.g., Spatial
Data Infrastructure [SDI]) that support information discovery, access, and use of this
information in the decision making process.

However, information is an expensive resource, and for this reason, appropriate
information and the resources to fully utilise this information may not always be
readily available, particularly in the developing world. Many national, regional, and
international programs and projects are working to improve access to available
spatial data, promote its reuse, and ensure that additional investment in spatial
information collection and management results in an ever-growing, readily available,
and usable pool of spatial information. This is true of many initiatives even if they are
not actually labeled as ‘SDI initiatives.’ An example of this is the Environmental
Information Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa (EIS–SSA) Program. An emphasis on
harmonising standards for spatial data capture and exchange, the coordination of
data collection and maintenance activities, and the use of common data sets by
different agencies may also feature in such initiatives, although these activities by
themselves do not constitute a formal SDI.

In regions characterised by an availability of geographic information, in combination
with the power of GIS, decision support tools, databases, and the World Wide Web
and their associated interoperability, the way that better-resourced communities
address critical issues of social, environmental, and economic importance is changing
rapidly. However, even in the new era of networked computers, the social habits of
the past continue to prohibit users from finding and using critical geographic
information. This can lead to either the abandoning of a proposed project, or to
unnecessary—and expensive—recapture of existing geographic information.

There is a clear need, at all scales, to be able to access, integrate, and use spatial
data from disparate sources in guiding decision making. Our ability then, to make
sound decisions collectively at the local, regional, and global levels is dependent on
the implementation of SDI that provides for compatibility across jurisdictions that
promotes data access and use.

Only through common conventions and technical agreements will it be easily possible
for local communities, nations, and regional decision-makers to discover, acquire,
exploit, and share geographic information vital to the decision process. The use of
common conventions and technical agreements also makes sound economic sense by
limiting the cost involved in the integration of information from various sources, as
well as eliminating the need for parallel and costly development of tools for
discovering, exchanging, and exploiting spatial data. The greater the limitation on
available resources for SDI development, the greater the incentive for achieving
alignment between initiatives to build SDI.

The development of a ‘cookbook’ is envisaged as a means to clarify the SDI definition
and to share the current experiences in building SDI implementations that are
compatible at many scales of endeavor. This Cookbook is intended to be a dynamic
document available in printed and digital form that includes ‘recipes,’ or
recommendations, on developing these infrastructures from a local, even
nongovernmental, scale through global initiatives.

Scope of this Cookbook:

This SDI Implementation Guide, or Cookbook, through the support of the Global
Spatial Data Infrastructure community, provides geographic information providers
and users with the necessary background information to evaluate and implement
existing components of SDI. It also facilitates participation within a growing (digital)
geographic information community known as the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure

To enable builders of SDI to make use of and build on existing SDI components in a
way that makes their endeavors compatible with the efforts of other SDI builders, this
GSDI Cookbook identifies

   •   Existing and emerging standards

   •   Free or low-cost software solutions based on these standards
   •   Supportive organisational strategies and policies

   •   Best practices”

Disaster Response: GIS for Public Safety

                              Earthquakes bring down cities, wildfires ravage millions
                              of acres of land, floods wash away homes and lives,
                              volcanoes devastate towns and villages, hurricanes roar
                              down on populous coasts, tornadoes rip milewide paths
                              up and down the countryside. Mother Nature does what
                              she does, and in the face of her fury, a comprehensive
                              and effective system of preparedness, mitigation,
                              response, and recovery seems an unlikely possibility.

                            Geographic information systems, however, are just that,
providing the means not to conquer Mother Nature, but to get out of her way and
soften her blows when we cannot.

From deciding where to build new fire stations and in which stations to keep ladder
trucks to monitoring disasters as they happen, in real time, with only a PC and an
Internet connection, and from mapping wildfires tens of thousands of acres in size
with GPS equipment and a helicopter to processing raw data and providing
information products around the entire Pacific Rim, GIS is making emergency
management a faster and more accurate means of helping people cope. For more
information, please go to

Regional News

The Americas
Digital Earth 2001 will take place in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, in June.
Place: Sheraton Hotel, Fredericton
Date: June 24–28
Contact Information: Canada Institute of Geomatics–Fredericton Branch
Tel.: +514-221-2210 or 514-515-9919
Fax: 435-309-810044-4310

UNDP’s GERIS (Gujarat Earthquake Rehabilitation Information Sytem) Project
Web site is

Background of the Project

The Bhuj earthquake that shook the Indian Province of Gujarat in India on the
morning of January 26, 2001 (Republic Day), is the most deadly earthquake to strike
India in its recorded history. One month after the earthquake, official Government of
India figures place the death toll at about 20,000 and the number of injured at
around 166,000. Indications are that 600,000 people were left homeless, with
348,000 houses destroyed and an additional 844,000 damaged. The Indian State
Department estimates that the earthquake affected, directly or indirectly, 15.9 million
people out of a total population of 37.8 million. More than 20,000 cattle are reported
killed. Government estimates place direct economic losses at $1.3 billion. Other
estimates indicate losses may be as high as $5 billion.

Latin America

The Inter-American Development Bank Information Technology for Development
Division’s Web site has a new page devoted to information about GIS. Please find
more information at

Many of the links pertain to GIS-related activities in the region and have direct
connection to institutions such as the Pan American Institute of Geography and
History (PAIGH), Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Estadistica, Guatemala’s Instituto
Geográfico Nacional “Ing. Alfredo Obiols Gómez,” the Costa Rica GIS Data
Clearinghouse, the CGIAR Consortium for Spatial Information, and Uruguay’s
Clearinghouse Nacional de Datos Geográficos that contains references and metadata
with more than 3,000 spatial data sets!

For more information, please contact
William Brooner


The Environmental Information Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa (EIS–SSA)
Program has a wealth of information about GIS in Africa on its Web site at
Additionally, four years of EIS newsletters are archived at

Please refer to the Web site to download a brochure on GIS Solutions for Africa:

User Forum for International GIS Professionals

The user forum at
is open and available to the international GIS community as a discussion forum.
Please feel free to post a topic and ask your fellow GIS users to respond. I hope that
you will use this site for
    • Requesting data for parts of the world
    • Informing the international community about upcoming seminars and
    • Discussing topics such as SDIs, data sets, ISO standards, global programs and
      their expected outcomes, etc.

Your comments on this e-newsletter are welcome.
Please send them to