2. Working Group on Toponymic Data Files and Gazetteers

Convenor

Mr. Pier-Giorgio Zaccheddu (Germany), E-mail: pier-giorgio.zaccheddu@bkg.bund.de

Scope of work

To respond to UN resolutions and UN data needs, this Working Group on Toponymic Data Files and Gazetteers addresses various issues of toponymic data processing, including the creation, maintenance and outputs of toponymic data files (including gazetteer production) and aspects of toponymic data exchange formats and standards. Issues of providing geographical names information within national and international spatial data infrastructures (SDIs) through web (gazetteer) services and multipurpose toponymic database solutions in the context of SDIs as well as the utilization of volunteered geographic information and crowd sourced data are becoming more and more important. The issue of appropriate definitions for gazetteers and data types and of general feature types/categories relates with the agenda of the WG TDFG. 

Work plan
  • maintain liaison with international standardization bodies like the Unicode Consortium regarding digital text encoding in the context of geographical names, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) with reference to the development of exchange standards for toponymic information and to web (gazetteer) services for the provision of toponymic information through the Internet;
  • maintain liaison with the United Nations Geographic Information Working Group (UNGIWG) in relation to UN developments and requirements;
  • provide consultancy and technical advice to the UN-GGIM activities related to the fundamental data theme ‘Geographical Names;
  • promote and support the geographical names database of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN database);
  • promote, complement and support the “UNECA Africa GeoNyms database/gazetteer initiative";
  • promote and provide consultancy and technical advice to national standardization programs and to toponymic training courses including the development of multipurpose toponymic database solutions in the context of spatial data infrastructures. This comprises issues like the discussion of appropriate definitions for gazetteers and data types and of general feature types/categories for a global use;
  • organize workshops in conjunction with UNGEGN Sessions or UN Conferences, focusing on topics like data collection, categorization and modeling, database applications or lessons learned through national and international geographical names programs or projects, and, as required, provide presentations on such topics at the UNGEGN Sessions and upcoming UNCSGN;
  • recommend content and structure of nationally produced authoritative gazetteers and toponymic data files in particular making use of the Internet;
  • examine processes and recommend best practice for the exploitation and validation of volunteered geographic information and crowd sourced data as part of national toponymic standardization work.
Upcoming Actions for 2017 – 2019
  • The Working Group will assist the UNGEGN Bureau in co-operating with the UN GGIM committee in order to emphasize, promote and support UNGEGN tasks and activities;
  • The Working Group will monitor the availability of free and easily-accessible authorized digital geographical names data as it is seen as a key driver in encouraging the use of nationally-standardized names;
  • The Working Group will provide consultancy to the developments related to the UNGEGN database, UNECA “UNECA Africa GeoNyms database/gazetteer initiative”, the INSPIRE initiative, the EuroGeoNames project, UN gazetteer and projects of developing countries through toponymic training courses; in 2018 very likely to be conducted in the Philippines;
  • The Working Group will expand the content of the Working Group website and promote it through the UNGEGN Information Bulletin, referencing recently presented documents and including information on data modeling and database design, on general issues in the context of data maintenance, production and distribution in the context of Spatial data infrastructures (SDIs);
  • The Working Group will maintain the online discussion forum as part of the Working Group website by utilizing Wiki functionality in order to investigate on issues and specific topics like e.g. volunteered geographic information and crowd sourced data;
  • The Working Group will consider a review of the content of Part II of the UNGEGN Technical Reference Manual and assist the UNGEGN secretariat with the publication of an amended version;
  • The Working Group will assist in raising awareness about the lack of availability of standardized names by participating and presenting toponymic data topics at national and international conferences organized in the fields of geospatial information management (comprising spatial data infrastructures), cartography and remote sensing;
  • The Working Group will arrange meetings, at least one between the two UNGEGN Sessions conducted in preparation of the respective UNCSGN.
Recent documents of the Working Group
Recent meetings of the Working Group
  • The Working Group met during the 29th Session of UNGEGN in Bangkok, April 2016
  • The Working Group met during the 28th Session of UNGEGN in New York, April 2014
  • The Working Group met during the 27th Session of UNGEGN / 10th UNCSGN in New York, August 2012.
  • The Working Group met during the 26th Session of UNGEGN in Vienna, May 2011.
  • The Working Group met in association with ECSEE Division and EuroGeographics in February 2011.
  • The Working Group met during the 25th Session of UNGEGN in Nairobi, May 2009.
  • The Working Group met in association with EuroGeoNames in June 2008 and February 2009.
  • Meetings of the Working Group were held in New York at the Ninth UN Conference in August 2007. In addition at that time, a workshop was organized to address data exchange standards and a discussion group was held on the future of gazetteers.
  • A Working Group meeting was held in Madrid in April 2007, in conjunction with a EuroGeoNames meeting.
Suggested web sites