As a common understanding among people on Earth, our planet currently faces several global challenges such as climate change, large-scale disasters and biodiversity crises, which must be tackled through global, collaborative approaches. In order to cope with these issues appropriately, reliable geospatial information for the whole globe, which describes the current status of the environment and human activities, is indispensable. The importance of geospatial information for decision-making to better address global issues was described repeatedly in Agenda 21 which was adopted in the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. In response to Agenda 21, Japan advocated for a Global Mapping Project as an international contribution from surveying and mapping sectors.
The Global Mapping Project aims to develop a Global Map through an international cooperation of National Mapping Organizations (NMOs) of the world. Global Map is composed of basic geospatial datasets covering the whole land area of the globe. The data consists of the eight thematic layers: boundaries, drainage, transportation, and population centers in vector format; and elevation, land use, land cover and vegetation in raster format. The resolution is 1km which is equivalent to conventional maps at scales of 1:1 million. Participating NMOs are requested to develop Global Map data in a manner consistent with Global Map Specifications designed specially for Global Map The specifications specify reference coordinate system, accuracy, definitions of features and their attributes, data format, etc. This enables us to compare the data internationally.
As of 1 July 2010, 164 countries and 16 regions participate in the project, which collectively covers 97% of the whole land area. Each participating NMO has responsibility for data development and data contents of the country. This differentiated Global Map from other existing global data such as Digital Chart of the World and V-Map which were developed by specific organizations. The International Steering Committee for Global Mapping (ISCGM), which is set up with 20 members who are mostly heads of NMOs of selected countries, functions as the decision-making and progress management body. Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI), the NMO of Japan, has been serving as the secretariat since its inauguration in 1996.
With intensive efforts made by participating NMOs and supporting stakeholders, Global Map version 1 was released in 2008 (Figure 1). Anybody with access to the Internet can download data through ISCGM website free of charge for non-commercial purposes.
Figure 4: Integrated Flood Analysis System and Global Map – Global Map School is another example of a Global Map application. This is a program where students of two countries exchange information about each country and ideas on topics like global environmental issues via internet-based video conferencing systems (Figure 5). Global Map is used as a base map in this program. So far, three sessions have been held bilaterally: one was between Japan and the Philippines in 2006, and two others between Japan and Thailand in 2007 and 2008, respectively. In each of these sessions, geospatial information was effectively used through ICT (Information and Communication Technology) that helped young people improve mutual understanding of each country and critical issues.
For further information: http://www.iscgm.org