Thinley Namgay

The National Land Commission Secretariat (NLCS), in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), will implement a project to promote and utilise geospatial information.

This would be done by developing a national spatial data infrastructure (NSDI).

The 38-month project will start from April this year after experts arrive from Japan.

Geospatial data includes everything that exists in the surface of the earth like water bodies, forest, roads, houses, people, animals, and places that are required as a reference for different purposes.

The project will bring together more than 30 different agencies to enhance the utilisation of geospatial data.

The director of Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC), Rinchen Wangdi, and chief representative of JICA, Kozo Watanabe, signed the record of discussion (agreement) at the NLCS yesterday.

Kozo Watanabe said the project would enhance technology and human resource development to create a digital mapping. “Supporting the government to implement the NSDI is the other key aspect.”

A press release from NLCS stated that the project has two intended outcomes: capacity development for planning and implementation for the strategic utilisation and promoting of NSDI, and capacity development for making, updating, management and utilisation of digital topographic maps.

NLCS’s director, Tenzin Namgay, said the project would create a framework within which data could be shared across the country. “Through the cadastral re-survey from 2014 to 2018, lots of geospatial data were collected, which could not be shared because of lack of NSDI framework.”

He also said NSDI will reduce the wastage of resources by creating a common platform. “Currently, agencies are not aware of what kind of information exists in other agencies. They create their own data and adopt their standards which is not good for the country in future.”

Officials explained that through NSDI, users will be aware of the data that exists in different agencies and there will be an online platform called geo-portal.

Tenzin Namgay said the project would help to ease the digital transformation initiative in future. “There are lots of emphasis nowadays to use digital information in the decision-making process.”

JICA also helped the country in technical aspect to carry out the topographical base mapping in eight southern districts from 2015 to 2017 under the project “Development of National Geospatial Data in Bhutan’.

NLCS’s secretary, Pema Chewang, said NSDI would act as a backbone for policies, strategies and human resources.