Spatial Data Infrastructure Supports Abu Dhabi Education Council

By Jim Bauman, Esri

With the increasing use of geographic information systems (GIS) throughout the country, the Abu Dhabi Systems & Information Centre (ADSIC) launched the Abu Dhabi Spatial Data Infrastructure (AD-SDI) initiative. Its mission is to facilitate the sharing of geospatial data among government agencies and other stakeholders. The AD-SDI initiative is made up of 56 government and private agencies including virtually every industry and agency in the emirate. All AD-SDI members are mandated to share their spatial data with one another, excluding data related to the security of Abu Dhabi.

One member of the AD-SDI is the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), which has used Esri’s ArcGIS software for several years. “We began using ArcGIS in 2009,” says Pakrad Balabanian, GIS team leader at the ADEC. “Our first project was the School Finder. Data for this project was very easy to obtain, since we are part of the AD-SDI program. So we got ready-made basemaps, the road network, census data, and so on. SDI really helps extend the use of GIS in Abu Dhabi.”

ADEC’s School Finder allows residents to explore schools throughout Abu Dhabi, using various criteria such as location, type, grade level, and gender. It is an important and popular application because there is a regular influx of new families to the emirate that are looking for schools for their children, and this helps them get settled more easily.

Realizing the advantages of geoenabling its entire student database, the ADEC integrated ArcGIS with its enterprise student information system, which contains detailed data about Abu Dhabi’s approximately 350,000 students, 18,000 teachers, and 450 schools. This allows administrators to easily monitor student performance at specific schools, compare general progress among neighboring schools, or track an individual teacher’s qualifications and workload.

In addition, the ADEC’s Facilities and Infrastructure department is using GIS for land and facilities management. “The government had allocated plots of land to the ADEC for educational purposes, but there was uncertainty about the exact location of the plots and their current use,” said Balabanian. “We created the Land Bank application to manage and analyze these plots. We are also using this application for the 10-year ADEC master plan so that we can determine where we should be building new schools and refurbishing older ones.”

Follow Jim Bauman on Twitter at @jabaumann.

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