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Summer 2003
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Prime Minister of Thailand Enthusiastically Supports NSDI

Esri President Jack Dangermond (left) with Thailand's Prime Minister Pol. Lt. Col. Thaksin Shinawatra.

In a recent meeting with Esri President Jack Dangermond, Thailand's Prime Minister Pol. Lt. Col. Thaksin Shinawatra discussed the role of GIS in aiding the Thai government in accomplishing major geospatial policies including the establishment of a Thai Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI).

The conversation included the topic of the government's initiative to support the development of technologies, policies, and procedures to promote sharing geospatial data throughout all levels of government and the private sector. In support of the initiative, the prime minister recently allocated budget resources to develop a framework for more efficient and productive application of GIS throughout the country to improve data quality and reduce the cost of geographic information usage in Thailand. Currently, there are numerous GIS databases in Thailand, but they are not integrated. As Thailand applies this GIS technology, these scattered databases will be integrated and can be applied effectively for developing the infrastructures, road construction, land reformation, etc. An important task will be to provide this data and information for public use.

The prime minister discussed the development of GIS in Thailand and explained that the Thai government sees the importance of implementing GIS in order to become more effective, especially in building the fundamental geographic data set and applying GIS to natural resources and environmental management.

In his meeting with the prime minister, as well as subsequent meetings with various officials and organizations involved in the establishment of a Thai NSDI, Dangermond expressed his views on the need for data sharing and interoperability between government agencies as well as the development of updating strategies. He indicated that the use of GIS would benefit all of the government's key projects as the integrated solution for an e-government strategy.

Dangermond believes that GIS is developing much like the telephone infrastructure. "It will evolve and become a strategic element for Thai enterprises," he says.

Thai governmental agencies and private entities are increasingly using geoinformatics and geospatial information to support decision making for natural resource and environmental management as well as for economic and social development. Well-established GIS sites in Thailand include the Royal Thai Survey Department, Metropolitan Electricity Authority, Public Works and Town & Country Planning Department, Department of Agriculture, Land Development Department, Water Resource Department, Provincial Electricity Authority, and Metropolitan Waterworks Authority. The existing data from these and other organizations could form the backbone of the Thai NSDI.

In support of education in Thailand, Dangermond recently provided 100 K-12 GIS kits, which include GIS software, the new community teaching guide, and student handbooks, to the country's Ideal Schools program.

Thailand's Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) is responsible for national standards and infrastructure for GIS, space technology development, remote sensing, and geoinformatics. It is also acting as a clearinghouse for all GIS data in Thailand, particularly government data, in anticipation of the development of its NSDI. The agency is currently working with Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok to create a National GIS Master Plan. It plans to implement a pilot NSDI system this year and to proceed with a nationwide implementation in 2004-2005.

Recently, Esri awarded a Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI) grant to GISTDA to support the building of an NSDI in Thailand. To date, Esri has awarded approximately 100 GSDI grants, worth approximately $50,000 each, to countries around the world to help them in their development of National Spatial Data Infrastructures. The program also promotes the sharing of geospatial data to expand the GSDI movement.

Comments Dangermond, "We at Esri are pleased to be in a position to offer comprehensive support for the development of national geospatial infrastructures. I believe that cooperative initiatives to promote intergovernmental spatial data sharing and development are vital to achieving sustainable economic development throughout the world."

For more information, contact Dave Byers, Esri (tel.: 909-793-2853, ext. 1-1561; e-mail:

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