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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited
Location! Location! Location!
Location plays an important role in many aspects of our lives – much of what we do is determined by, or influenced by, or connected to, its location. This is why maps are so important to us – for route-planning, as location tools and, increasingly, to display other location-related (e.g. statistical) information.
This has led to the development of GIS – geographic information systems, and to their move down the value chain to the point where they can be used by those without huge budgets. GIS are now available on the desktop at an affordable price. Local and national government agencies make increasing use of them.
The Intra-governmental Group on Geographic Information (IGGI) was established in 1993, following the publication of the Chorley Report. IGGI's aim is to promote the effective use of GIS throughout central government. It currently has more than 270 members from more than 80 organisations.
IGGI chair and secretariat duties are carried out by Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) personnel, while management is overseen by a Steering Group of 12 members from a range of government organisations. There are also a number of IGGI working groups that deal with more specific issues, including Departmental Geographic Information strategies, International developments, Metadata Implementation and National Emergencies. The resulting work of the groups has been a series of best-practice guides, providing advice on how to manage, exchange and maintain GI in a consistent and efficient manner, in keeping with the joining up government initiative. The guides can be downloaded from the Achievements and Deliverables page of the IGGI Web site: www.iggi.gov.uk, or requested in hard copy from the IGGI Secretariat.
IGGI's major achievement in the last two years has been the negotiation of the Pan Government Agreement (PGA) for the supply of Ordnance Survey (OS) digital data to the whole of central government. The original central government agreement began with a consortium of nine like-minded organisations, which increased to 15 over three years. To accelerate the adoption of GI by central government and reduce the bureaucracy caused by individual negotiations, IGGI brokered a pilot PGA on behalf of the whole of central government in April 2002. The agreement makes available a consistent set of OS products, ranging from 1:1,250 to 1:1,000,000 scale for the whole of Great Britain. Support services are also provided to help those organisations joining the agreement, or existing users taking new products.
Under the pilot, all existing agreements between OS and central government were consolidated and the agreement actively promoted. As a result of the pilot, the total number of central government organisations taking OS data increased from 54 to 141 in a single year. The success of the pilot agreement has led to the development of a three year agreement, which starts in April 2003.
For more information on the benefits of the PGA and eligibility requirements, see the business pages of the OS Web site: www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/business
To help organisations realise the benefits of, and begin using the data available to them under the PGA, IGGI have joined forces with AGI and OS to develop thepowerofgeography.com. Thepowerofgeography.com comprises a leaflet and a Web site containing case studies in the use of GI and a toolkit which can be downloaded for use in presentations. For further information see: www.thepowerofgeography.com
As the 2005 deadline for the electronic delivery of government services draws closer, there is increased recognition of the important contribution that GI and map-based interfaces make to the delivery of joined-up services. IGGI provides the forum for developing best practice and an exchange of experience in the use of GI.