Secretary General of International Steering Committee for Global Mapping
Geospatial Information Authority of Japan
Figure 1: Sample of Global Map Version1 around Thailand
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.
For further information: http://www.iscgm.org
Figure 2: Global Map Version1 - Global Land Cover - Figure 2 shows the situation of land cover all over the world. The data are classified into 20 categories such as forest (broadleaf or needleleaf, evergreen or deciduous are distinguished), cropland, paddy fields, wetlands and urban areas. Figure 3 shows forest distribution and its density. The percent tree cover is higher in areas in deeper green. Original data have information on the coverage of tree canopy in each 30 arc-second (about 1km) grid, by 0% to 100%. These two datasets were developed using MODIS satellite imagery by GSI and Chiba University. NMOs also made collaboration in providing training data for classification and data validation.
Figure 3: Global Map Version1 - Global Percent Tree Cover As an example of its many applications, Global Map is used for runoff analysis in Integrated Flood Analysis System (IFAS) developed by the International Center for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM), Public Works Research Institute of Japan (Figure 4). The main objective of IFAS is to reduce flood damages in developing countries where hydrologic information is not sufficiently available. In addition to satellite-based and ground-based rainfall data, Global Map Land Use and Land Cover data is used for setting parameters such as roughness and surface permeability in combination with other data such as soil and geological data. Global Map Elevation data are used for creating a basin boundary and a water flow network.
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.
Figure 5: Scenes from Global Map School - The Global Map data are updated every five years in order to better monitor and detect the change of global environment. NMOs of participating countries are collaboratively working for Global Map version 2 development, with a target completion date of 2012. The new Global Map specifications were adopted last year for the development of Global Map version 2 and further promoting the use of data. New specifications adopt ISO19136 (GML 3.2.1) standard for the vector data format and ISO 19115 for metadata. This will facilitate the interoperability of the data. Global Map is expected to be used in far various fields, including GEOSS societal benefit areas such as Climate, Disasters, Water, and Biodiversity.