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Spring 2006
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People's Republic of China Outfits Geological Field Army with ArcGIS

  group photo
The data-sharing signature ceremony with director of CGS Meng Xianli (left) and Lu Xinshe, director of the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping.

Realizing that GIS technology has the potential to completely revolutionize the collection and analysis of its geographically related data, the China Geological Survey (CGS) has implemented an ambitious series of initiatives to support its Geological Field Army, the national geological field data collection organization, in the accumulation, organization, and distribution of spatial information. Among other projects, GIS will allow the agency to both strengthen its geologic work and expand its exploration activities for petroleum and mineral resources to resolve the potential problem of shortages in the future.

To accomplish their ambitious goals in a country that stretches from the Middle to Far East, the CGS has implemented virtually all of Esri's software, i.e., ArcGIS Desktop, ArcSDE and ArcIMS, and the ArcGIS Engine development kit. ArcGIS extensions, such as ArcGIS 3D Analyst, ArcGIS Spatial Analyst, ArcGIS Geostatistical Analyst, ArcGIS Publisher, and ArcGIS Data Interoperability, are also extensively used.

The CGS is a government agency within China's Ministry of Land and Resources. It is responsible for the organization and implementation of national policies supporting public and strategic geological resources investigations and mineral explorations, as well as providing basic geological information and data in support of the national economy and social development.

CGS is currently in charge of several nationwide projects that have been funded with more than $100 million (U.S.), including Chinese land resources investigation and the exploration and analysis of ore and mineral resources in China.

The agency employs more than 6,000 people in 26 institutions related to regional geological survey, specialized geological survey, scientific innovation, technical support, and customer services. In addition, there are more than 120 organizations and 15,000 employees engaged in various geological investigation projects hosted by CGS.

  click to enlarge
The mineral resources evaluation deployment diagram for the Tenth Five-Year Plan of China.

After a rigorous two-year evaluation, the Chinese government approved a technical equipment and software purchase for the CGS Geological Field Army that totaled nearly $200 million (U.S.). Specifications included equipment for geologic testing and analysis, data processing, network development, and geological investigation using both avionic and oceanographic technologies. One goal of this massive investment in the development of CGS capacities for geological investigation is to resolve energy and other mineral resource shortages related to its expanding economic development.

The ArcGIS software family was selected as the GIS software platform to manage the CGS information workflow because of its adaptability and powerful capabilities. Several years ago, the former Ministry of Geology and Mineral Resources of China began purchasing Esri software products, including PC ARC/INFO and ArcView. From then, several organizations within the ministry purchased additional software and were able to gain some significant achievements. These projects included the construction of several fundamental geological databases, the development of spatial information grid services, and a geological hazards environment system for the Three Gorge Dam. In addition, ArcGIS software is used in China's contribution to the World Data Center (WDC) system. Databases collected and distributed by the Chinese for the WDC include geophysics, space science, astronomy, geology, glaciology and geo-cryology, oceanography, renewable resources and environment, and seismology. China also hosts one of WDC's coordination offices.

Comments Francis Ho, president of Esri China (Beijing) Ltd., "Because CGS had been deeply impressed by the excellent stability and powerful functionality of ArcGIS, Esri has enjoyed a long-term collaboration with the agency, which has led to Esri's success in the GIS platform competition in the Geological Field Army equipment purchases."

Fifteen organizations directly under CGS have been involved in this purchase activity, including the Geological Investigation Center, Geological Science Institution, and specialized geological investigation organizations. CGS plans to organize software training sessions for about 70 employees from these 15 organizations that will include geological mapping, spatial database construction and maintenance, Internet map publishing, the effective use of ArcGIS extensions, and GIS application development. The intent of this training plan is to develop a corps of experts in ArcGIS applications for the Chinese geological industry who will become the backbone for geological information development projects.

For more information, contact Esri China (Beijing) Ltd. (e-mail:

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