Geospatial data sharing in Saudi Arabia

Masters Thesis

Lee, Donald C.. 2003. Geospatial data sharing in Saudi Arabia. Masters Thesis Master of Engineering. University of Southern Queensland.

Geospatial data sharing in Saudi Arabia

TypeMasters Thesis
AuthorLee, Donald C.
SupervisorMcDougall, Kevin
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameMaster of Engineering
Number of Pages217

This research started with a realization that two organizations in Saudi Arabia were spending large amounts of money, millions of dollars in fact, in acquiring separate sets of geospatial data that had identical basemap components. Both the organizations would be using the data for similar engineering purposes, yet both would be independently outsourcing the data gathering. In all probability, resources are being wasted through two organizations each developing and operating stand-alone geographic information systems and then populating the databases with geospatial data obtained separately. Surely with some cooperation, a shared database could be established, with a diffusion of economic benefits to both organizations. Preliminary discussions with representatives from both the organizations revealed high levels of enthusiasm for the principle of sharing geospatial data, but the discussions also revealed even higher levels of scepticism that such a scheme could be implemented. This dichotomy of views prompted an investigation into the issues, benefits and the barriers involved in data sharing, the relative weight of these issues, and a quest for a workable model. Sharing geospatial data between levels of government, between governmental and private institutions, and within institutions themselves has been attempted on large and small scales in a variety of countries, with varying degrees of accomplishment. Lessons can be learned from these attempts at data sharing, confirming that success is not purely a function of financial and technical benefits, but is also influenced by institutional and cultural aspects. This research is aimed at defining why there is little geospatial data sharing between authorities in Saudi Arabia, and then presenting a workable model as a pilot arrangement. This should take into account issues raised in reference material; issues evidenced through experience in the implementation of systems that were configured as independent structures; issues of culture; and issues apparent in a range of existing data sharing arrangements. The doubts expressed by engineering managers towards using a geospatial database that is shared between institutions in Saudi Arabia have been borne out by the complexity of interrelationships which this research has revealed. Nevertheless, by concentrating on a two party entry level, a model has been presented which shows promise for the implementation of such a scheme. The model was derived empirically and checked against a case study of various other similar ventures, with a consideration of their applicability in the environment of Saudi Arabia. This model follows closely the generic structure of the Singapore Land Hub. The scalability of the model should allow it to be extended to other, multi-lateral data sharing arrangements. An alternative solution could be developed based on a Spatial Data Infrastructure model and this is suggested for ongoing investigation. Major unresolved questions relate to cultural issues, whose depth and intricacy have the potential to influence the realization of successful geospatial data sharing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Keywordsgeospatial data sharing, Saudi Arabia, geographic information system (GIS)
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020401302. Geospatial information systems and geospatial data modelling
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