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Transforming role of the national mapping agency


Johnny Welle, Director-General, Norwegian Mapping Authority

It is a continuous evolution. Digital data has increasingly become the basis on which governments, organizations and businesses base their decisions. With this, the role of the mapping agency is transforming — from producer to provider of digital platform. Technology advancements have the greatest disruptive impact over the short to medium-term. Norway has a good environment for sharing geodata. For last 30 years, we have been working with municipalities and national agencies across the government to build a National Spatial Data Infrastructure — a platform for data sharing based on a collaboration called ‘Norway Digital’. The structure of this platform is spatial in its setting, containing geodetic reference frame, hydrographic data, land mapping and cadaster in a common infrastructure. We are trying to work out how to secure access to authoritative data in this platform, which is changing quite dramatically. We are plugging into the stream of data that is surrounded by dynamic data derived from the digital economy. It is an evolution in building new functionality, moving the infrastructure layer, semantic layer, financial models and connecting it to the private sector.

Collaboration to provide knowledge services

Our primary objective is to provide the foundational data, which is key to make and use other geodata and ensures that the data coming from geospatial ecosystem is interoperable with data from other ecosystems. This kind of knowledge infrastructure is only going to be realized through close collaboration between the National Mapping Authority and other organizations in the value chain. We have collaboration at different levels of administration in Norway, but the private sector has been missing when it comes to sharing infrastructure. It is important to establish a common business model across public and private sectors. Building a digital platform and providing Cloud-based services are quite expensive, so it is important to find a financial model that is sustainable. This is by far the most challenging aspect.

Developing and sharing Digital Twin

Our vision is to work with different stakeholders and the geospatial industry to develop the Digital Twin and share it with the entire ecosystem for providing solutions and services. There are new areas of datasets that are expected when it comes to digital twins, with key objects and datasets attached to it. It will require much richer data content.

Understanding the value of geographic information

We are in the process of aligning our strategies at the national level. It’s about converging the semantics. The process has started and we hope to be able to start lighthouse projects. We have experienced that the wider understanding of the value of geographic information is increasing in other sectors. To get the development going, there is need is to take initiatives like lighthouse projects and get them into a national program that could support wider digital transformation and establish common rooms for further development.

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