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UN-GGIM Expert Group

Integrating Statistical Geospatial Information

21st June 2018

Summary Report



The following summary report regards the discussions and actions from the United Nations Expert Group on the Integration of Statistical and Geospatial Information (EG-ISGI), convened over video conference, hosted by the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM). This covered updates since the last video conference meeting on 5 April 2018, progress reports from the working groups of the 5 Principles of the Global Statistical Geospatial Framework (GSGF), progression reports from the collaboration between the EG-ISGI and the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), preparations for the 8th Session of GGIM, and future business of the Expert Group.

The meeting was attended by 20 participants from Australia, Canada, Egypt, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, and the United States of America, as well as by representatives from Eurostat, UNFPA, and the UN-GGIM Secretariat, United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD). The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. Martin Brady (Australia) and Ms. Paloma Merodio (Mexico).

Global Statistical Geospatial Framework Principles Working Group Progress Reports

Lead: Martin Brady, Australia

The discussion received reports from the various working groups of the 5 Principles of the Global Statistical Geospatial Framework. Martin Brady welcomed the overall progress of the Principles Working Group, noting that there is a good start to the development of the principles from the templates, refinement of the vocabulary for consistency will be necessary following the submission of the Principle templates.


Principle 1

·          Lead countries – Germany, Mexico and Brazil;

·          Pier-Giorgio Zaccheddu from Germany provided an update on Principle One. Noting discussions between Working Group Members and circulating the results within the Principle Working Group and within the wider Expert Group, with these comments being reflected in the document. We have since received comments from Norway and these comments will be reflected in due course. This is a first document summarising the ideas for Principle 1.

Principle 2

·          Lead countries – Australia and Sweden;

·          Martin Brady from Australia reported that there have been many useful exchanges within the Working Group and that the Expert Group as a whole is invited to review and provide feedback on the Principle 2 template document.


Principle 3

·          Lead countries – Poland and Canada;

·          Eric Rancourt from Canada reporting that the first draft of the Principle 3 has been circulated, but it is still a work in progress. To move forward, Canada and Poland will reiterate and incorporate any comments received/to be received.

·          Janusz Dygaszewicz from Poland echoed Canada’s remarks noting happiness with what has been achieved so far with a clear pathway forward to progress the work.

Principle 4

·          Lead orgs – Eurostat/ENECE;

·          Ekkhardt Petri from Eurostat reported that the working group is a joint effort between themselves and the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Europe.

·          The Working Group is aiming to transform the traditional model of interoperability, beyond two IT systems talking to each other to also encapsulate the human, organisation, and legal factors within interoperability.

·          The Working Group requests Expert Group members to contribute and comment to the development of the Principle 4 template, noting that Interoperability is inherently cross-cutting across other principles.

Principle 5

·          Lead countries – UK and US;

·          Sharthi Laldaparsad from South Africa discussed the Working Group’s progress with developing Principle 5. Further refinement of the template is required, to remove duplication and improve consistency, but the substantive work is there. Vince Oiser from the USA and I will present this to the Expert Group as soon as possible.

In summary, the chairs commended the Working Groups for their progress and encouraged the working groups to finalise their principle template documents ready for discussion at the Expert Group meeting at UN-GGIM 8 in New York. The chairs noted that if there are additions and amendments to the templates, including the suggestion of adding a references section, these will be incorporated and standardised once all initial drafts are finalised and submitted to the Expert Group following the New York meeting.


Updates the Global Statistical Geospatial Framework

Lead: Martin Brady, Australia

This discussion covered the creation of the Global Statistical Geospatial Framework and the steps towards its development as a formal document and future. In Summary:

·          Martin Brady from Australia has updated the framework document and is now able to be referenced. Final feedback from the Expert Group is welcome, but the intention is to not elaborate further but to ensure that the framework document reflects the GSGF so that it can be published. The main motivation of this is to bridge the gap between the Framework and the Principle Documents.

·          Greg Scott from the UN-GGIM Secretariat noted that such a document would be very useful to be prepared in preparation for the 8th Session of the Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM8) and for the Expert Group’s side event. It is not necessary for the document to be approved by the Statistical Commission or the Committee of Experts, it can be iterated in consultation with the task teams.

·          The Chairs agreed with the need to prepare this document for the side event, with it being available via the UN-GGIM website for referencing being very useful – this will also serve the promotion of the GSGF, for example to support work being done in the GeoStat3 project. (Therefore, the Chairs request any final comments be submitted by Expert Group Members by 13 July 2018.)

·          Martin Brady from Australia noted that several countries have provided updates on their implementation of the GSGF. Greg Scott from the GGIM Secretariat also noted the regional progression in the adoption and implementation of the GSGF. The need to develop capacity in certain regions was emphasised and is a focus for UNSD.

·          Eric Rancourt proposed that a we set a date for delivering a fully revised GSGF document incorporating the principle working group outputs by GGIM9.  This was agreed.


Update on work on the OGC Statistical Domain Working Group

Lead: Martin Brady, Australia

The EG-ISGI was approached by OGC regarding Statistical/Geospatial standards and interoperability following the Stockholm workshop. Ian Coady from the United Kingdom sent notes to update the Expert Group on this collaboration:

·          There is a strong geospatial standards community through OGC but the statistical community isn’t particularly engaged with OGC (with some exceptions).

·          UNECE and UN-GGIM: Europe organised a joint workshop around geospatial standards for statistics in November 2017 - highlighted the need for greater work in this area both technically and culturally.

·          Also proposed a diverse set of projects around standards but needs some kind of framework to implement those projects.

·          UK Office for National Statistics has joined OGC and agreed to take on the setting up of a Statistical Domain Working Group within OGC.

·          The advantage of a domain working group is that participants don’t necessarily need to be members of OGC to participate. This should allow us to get good representation for the statistical community.

·          The objective of the domain working group is:

1.        To capture the requirements of the statistical community in developing geospatial standards;

2.        To develop use cases on the implementation of geospatial standards within the statistical system;

3.        To develop the statistical community’s knowledge of the benefits of geospatial standards to the statistical system;

4.        To develop the geospatial standards community’s knowledge of statistics; and,

5.        To provide a statistical ‘umbrella’ under which existing standards work that would benefit the statistical community can take place.

·          On point 5 this refers to existing standards work such as the Discrete Global Grid System, Table Joining Service, GeoPackage etc.

·          The UK supported by a number of other OGC members has drafted a charter for the domain working group that is just going out to public comment before it can be adopted by OGC.

·          There was also an ad hoc statistical meeting at the OGC technical committee in March that found strong support from the OGC membership for a group and identified other statistical communities we may want to engage with such as meteorological.

·          The aim now is to get the charter adopted and to hold a Standards meeting as a side event of UN-GGIM 8 that I hope all members of the EG-ISGI will attend to take this work forward.


Eric Rancourt from Canada noted that Canada is in full support of this work, detailing that Canada is looking to join OGC and will be increasingly involved within these activities. Sharthi Laldaparsad from South Africa noted that she will work internally within Statistics South Africa to understand how to increase interoperability internally, this initiative is an exemplar on how to integrate the statistics and geospatial communities. This last point was echoed by Martin Brady of Australia and Greg Scott of the UN-GGIM, recalling the outcome of the 4th meeting of the Expert Group in Sweden in 2017.


Planning for UN-GGIM8

Lead: Paloma Merodio, Mexico

GGIM 8 will be from 30th July – 3rd August 2018, at UNHQ in New York. In Summary:

·          The side event for the Expert Group is scheduled from 0900 to 1200 on Tuesday 31 July in Conference Room 11 with the meeting of the Expert Group directly proceeding this from 1200 to 1300.

·          Plan is to have a 1-hour OGC open session and then a 2 hour Integration of Statistical and Geospatial Information open session, followed by a 1 hour closed informal Expert Group meeting.  The Co-chairs will develop an agenda.

·          Paloma Merodio from Mexico noted that efficiency gains during the meeting of the Expert Group can be made if the Principle Working Groups divide into their groups and work in parallel.

·          The Expert Group report for UN-GGIM8 has been drafted and UNSD will circulate to the Expert Group for information.


Proposed 5th Meeting of the Expert Group

Lead: Paloma Merodio, Mexico

Following discussion, the next meeting/5th meeting of the Expert Group will be held alongside the United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress, Deqing, China 19-21 November.

UNSD will investigate the possibility of video conference dial in session for those that cannot attend in person. Next Expert Group video conference

Lead: Paloma Merodio, Mexico

Following discussion, the next Expert Group video conference will be held at the end of September 2018.


Meeting Ended