Geographical Information Systems (GIS) is a technology used to capture, store, process, develop and display geographical data in digital form. GIS dates back to the late 1960s when the digital handling of geographical data was pioneered at Harvard University. In Namibia, the technology has been used since the late 1990s, but only became a mainstream technology in the new millennium. It is now being used by all major institutions and organisations that handle spatial data and planning.
The various speakers provided insight into how they make use of GIS in their respective organisations. The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), for example, uses GIS to prepare and implement the National Census, while the City of Windhoek uses it to plan and manage the capital’s growth. NamPower and NamWater design and manage their distribution networks with this system. GIS has also become an indispensable technology to several ministries and Non-Governmental Organisations.
The presentations given by professionals in the industry provided the attendees with an overview of the challenges being faced in this sector and also highlighted the strides made in this field.
In his review of the GIS status in Namibia, Dr Lisho Mundia, a NUST Lecturer, said: “Many organisations such as key governmental institutions, private and State-Owned Organisations, lack secure data and reliable access to centrally managed information for their organisations, and their stakeholders at national level. Spatial data is a key resource for the development of a nation. Much economic potential is locked away in spatial data collections, and this potential is realised by making the data widely avai-lable.”
The organisers of this first GIS Day plan to make it an annual event and to add more activities to the programme in future.