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Winter 2003/2004
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Uruguay President Supports Geography Vision

Dr. Jorge Batlle Ibáñez, president of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, shared his vision of geography being a framework for planning and management with Jack Dangermond on his recent trip to South America to discuss various national GIS initiatives.

Uruguay has been actively involved in the use of GIS technology on a national level for more than a decade. In 1998, Uruguay made a major leap forward when it implemented the first National Spatial Data Infrastructure on the continent. The program, known as the National Geographic Information System (SIGNAC), is operated by the National Clearinghouse of Geographic Data (NCGD), a joint effort led by the Ministry of Transportation and Public Works (MTOP) with the participation of the private sector.

In addition to MTOP, other affiliates of the clearinghouse include the Ministries of Agriculture, Mining, Telephone, Environment, Municipal Council, Forestry, National Cadastre, Conservation, Water, and Pension Fund. The NCGD can be accessed via the Internet and offers digital cartography of the entire nation free of charge. Pertinent geographic information can be found at

"SIGNAC's contributions to society through GIS are phenomenal," says Dangermond, "and its accomplishments have set new precedents throughout the GIS community."

In conjunction with his visit, Dangermond helped equip the country's developing GIS educational program for secondary school students and instructors with GIS technology. He provided the latest ArcGIS software to 43 secondary education centers and 16 teacher training centers. This included software necessary for the implementation of an educational node within the National Administration of Public Education, which will allow the agency to join the NCGD.

In addition to President Batlle Ibáñez, Dangermond met with Lucio Cáceres, minister of Transportation and Public Works; Ricardo Bértola, national director of Topography; Leonardo Guzmán, minister of Education and Culture; Javier Bonilla, national director of Public Education; and other officials.

For more information, contact Merrill Lyew, Esri (e-mail:

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