FIG Task Force on Spatially Enabled Societies

FIG Task Force on Spatially Enabled Societies

In May 2009, the FIG General Assembly established in Eilat the short term Task Force (2009-2012) with the aim to explore the issue of Spatially Enabled Societies (SES) from a cadastral and surveyor’s point of view. The purpose was to identify the role of the profession, how it can provide for a spatially enabled society and to make recommendations.


The Task Force identified six key elements, which are critical to the implementation of a Spatially Enabled Society. Without those six elements, the spatial enablement of a society or government would seriously be held back in its progress. They are:

  • Legal framework: to provide a stable basis for the acquisition, management, and distribution of geographic information;

  • Common data integration concept: to facilitate that existing geographic information – from government as well as other sources – respect a common standard in order to ensure interoperability and linkage of data for the benefit of all;

  • Positioning infrastructure: to provide a common geodetic reference framework in order to enable the integration of geographic information;

  • Spatial data infrastructure: to provide the physical and technical infrastructure for geographic information to be shared and distributed;

  • Landownership information: to provide updated and correct documentation on the ownership and tenure of the land, fisheries, and forests, without which spatial planning, monitoring, and sound land development and management cannot take place;

  • Data and information concepts: to respect and accommodate the different developments in the acquisition and use of geographic information.


This publication as a .pdf-file (72 pages - 3.03 MB)

The publication translated into German (60 pages - 2.7 MB)


Executive Summary

The needs of societies are increasingly of global scale and require spatial data and information about their land, water and other resources – on and under ground – in order to monitor, plan, and manage them in sustainable ways. Spatial data and information, land administration, land management, and land governance play crucial roles in this.

Spatial enablement is a concept that adds location to existing information, thereby unlocking the wealth of existing knowledge about land and water, its legal and economical situation, its resources, access, and potential use and hazards. Societies and their governments need to become spatially enabled in order to have the right tools and information at hand to take the right decisions. SES – including its government – is one that makes use and benefits from a wide array of spatial data, information, and services as a means to organize its land and water related activities.

This publication focuses essentially on six fundamental elements, which are required to realize the vision of a SES:

  1. a legal framework to provide the institutional structure for data sharing, discovery, and access;
  2. a sound data integration concept to ensure multi-sourced data integration and interoperability;
  3. a positioning infrastructure to enable and benefit from precise positioning possibilities;
  4. a spatial data infrastructure to facilitate data sharing, to reduce duplication and to link data producers, providers and value adders to data users based on a common goal of data sharing;
  5. land ownership information, as the dominant issue in the interactions between government, businesses and citizens relating to land and water resources;
  6. data and information to respect certain basic principles and to increase the availability and interoperability of free to re-use spatial data from different actors and sectors.

Land and spatial information professionals play a primary role in translating raw data into useable spatial knowledge resources. These professions should ensure that both the social and technical systems in which spatial enablement will operate within are well understood. Spatial enablement can only be effective when it is designed with the specific needs of the jurisdiction in mind.

The concept of SES is offering new opportunities for government and the wider society, but it needs to move beyond the current tendency for the responsibility to achieve SES to lie solely with governments. SES will be more readily achieved by increasing involvement from the private sector, and in the same vein, if the surveying and spatial industries start to look toward other industries for best practices in service delivery.

Future activities need to take into account emerging trends in spatial information and the new opportunities they present for the application of spatial technologies and geographic information. These trends include among others:

  • location as the fourth element of decision-making;
  • differentiating between authoritative and volunteered information, yet recognizing
    the importance and value of both types of information towards spatial
    enablement and the enrichment of societies;
  • growing awareness for openness of data e.g. licensing, and resultant improvements
    in data quality;
  • move towards service provision.

Presentation and publication


Dr. Daniel Steudler
Swiss Federal Directorate for Cadastral
Seftigenstrasse 264
CH-3084 Wabern
Tel. +41-31-963 2482