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UN-GGIM Expert Group

Integrating Statistical Geospatial Information

31st July 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 on the margins of the Eighth Session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management at United Nations Headquarters, New York on 31st July 2018. This covered updates since the last video conference meeting on 21 June 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 United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress, and future business of the Expert Group.

The meeting was attended by participants from Australia, Canada, Egypt, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, 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 3

  • Lead countries – Poland and Canada
  • Ian Coady from the UK noted that we cannot be too prescriptive around the documents. We need to consider how web systems work with and support the principles to operate within this new environment. We also need to consider how spatial analysis and the Principles make the data more usable. The Principle Working Group has questions, but they are more for the Export Group as a whole:
    • Change management - as things change, what is the mechanism for it;
    • We spoke about the temporal dimension across geographies.
    • Need for there to be an 'assumptions' section within the templates.
    • We cannot be prescriptive regarding systems development -  we can provide case studies however.
    • What is the next stage after the templates are complete - how can we go from the templates and the principles - is there going to be additional guidance on top of this.
    • How do we ensure that all the guidance is operating at the same level? There may be stages of implementation - we need to ensure that we have consistency across the Principles in how it is being implemented. It was discussed by Australia that there is no mandate that says a country "should do this to this level". There is an element that we need to chart pathways to what is considered to be an optimal implementation state.
    • Accordingly, interoperability and standards are key with a need to cite work that has been done elsewhere.
    • There is a general push for smaller and smaller geographies to improve integration and granularity of data.
    • Janscz Dygaszewicz from Poland noted that statistics always uses the geographic division approach, to support this approach, we have added further information regarding the grid systems.
    • Peter Murphy from Canada discussed that there is a theme of stability - one type of common is that it's meant to be stable - some common geographies do change. There may be another type of common geography that will change – for example the urban extent of cities. We should consider whether we add further examples of geographies and their purposes. This was echoed by Ian Coady from the United Kingdom who noted that we can define geographies based on function.
    • Martin Brady from Australia noted that when we're talking about common geographies, we're talking about many different things. We should consider the case that if you could only choose one geography for the release of data, what would that be?
    • Janscz Dygaszewicz from Poland in response to this requested that the EG-ISGI should consider disaggregation and aggregation. We should recommend that you geocode to the most precise method possible. This considers the precision and accuracy of the data.
    • Ian Coady from the United Kingdom furthered this line by observing that the EG-ISGI should be cognizant that there are differences in common geographies within countries. For example, there is the Global Grid System. We can also guide people towards the positives and negatives of using different kinds of geographies.

Principle 4

  • Lead orgs – Eurostat/ENECE;
  • Ekkehard Petri from Eurostat noted that there is a need for an Assessment and Interoperability section, with the potential for a broader GSGF Glossary. Guidance is requested on the right level of detail too. Are these working documents or published documents?
  • Martin Brady from Australia, noted that the deadline for the completion of the principle documents as being at the Ninth Session of UN-GGIM in 2019. However, we as an Expert Group need to be realistic with respect to this timeframe, to achieve this Expert Group members need to be willing to devote more resources and time.

Principle 1

  • Lead countries – Germany and Mexico
  • Pier-Giogrio Zaccheddu from Germany reported that discussions with Mexico and Brazil regarding Principle 1 had been conducted, noting that there is still work to do regarding shortening the document and this should be completed by the deadline of September. Following this, there will be a need to discuss and examine whether our findings within the Principle Template are best within the template or others. Additionally, consistency of terms across the templates is also necessary with a need to include Geocoding and Interoperability within this document and across others – interaction with geospatial agencies will be very important in this regard;
  • Martin Brady from Australia responded that the deadline of September is for the EG-ISGI to discuss, in preparation for its next meeting at the UNWGIC in China November 2018, this will also foster support and awareness of the work of the EG-ISGI and of the GSGF within the geospatial community.
  • Paloma Merodio from Mexico mentioned that this will need to widen discussions with Colombia with respect to 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 EG-ISGI is invited to review and provide feedback on the Principle 2 template document.
  • Discussion moved towards how to communicate and update the various Principle documents. An action for the UN-GGIM Secretariat is to investigate how to share information within the EG-ISGI and more broadly maintain updates to the GSGF and the Principle documents.

Principle Summary

There is an overall need for harmonisation across the Principle documents, to ensure that the terminology, vocabulary and content is harmonised. Furthermore, there is a need for the EG-ISGI in collaboration with the UN-GGIM Secretariat to consider how the GSGF and its Principle Documents are shared, maintained and updated, as and when new content is drafted. In part, this will encourage development of more consistent content across Principle documents.  


Proposed 5th Meeting of the Expert Group

Following discussion of the principle template documents, the physical 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.

The next video conference of the EG-ISGI will be on 13th September 2018.

Meeting Ended