Philippine Geoportal: Little Known? Unappreciated?

There is a web site which deserves more notice, especially from Pinoys who are into geospatial technology, or for that matter, who are planners, researchers, geographers, etc. I am not also sure how big a percentage of the Philippine’s government workforce, that is from departments down to municipal and city governments know about an internet site called the Philippine Geoportal. But if I was an urban planner, or a member of some study team preparing a feasibility study or an environmental impact assessment, or a researcher, or a sociologist, an environment expert, etc. I would first go to this site.

Why? It is a no brainer since it provides authoritative maps with the Philippine’s central mapping agency — the National Mapping & Resources Information Authority (NAMRIA) — running and managing it. More so because of the rationale behind its creation (which I was able to gather from their official documents) which stated that the Geoportal was to — “serve as the foundation of the Philippines Spatial Data Infrastructure [PSDI]. Its purpose is to provide a common infrastructure for data sharing among all government agencies of the Philippine national government as well as the online display and access to geospatial data by users for use in strategic planning, decision making, data and situational analysis, and for ordinary and personal requirements.” But simplified, the Philippine Geoportal (according to NAMRIA Administrator Peter Tiangco) is about “One Map, One Nation”.

It may not yet be as extensive if one is to consider the data in various government offices (if not the difficulty in breaking up their silo mentality, even in spite of the recent Freedom of Information Act). Still, the Philippine Geoportal is one place, rather a portal, where one must start if he/she is into geospatial technology, whether he/she is in the private or public sectors. More important is the fact that all maps in the Geoportal are authoritative. One can start with which has uploaded into the portal geodetic control points, gravity stations, topological basemaps of 1:10,000, 1:50,000 and 1:250,000, regional and provincial boundaries, ortho images of selected areas, among others.

Other contributors to the Geoportal are the pioneer participants during the 2011 planning, creation and launching namely the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Health (DoH), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS), Department of National Defense (DND), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO). To see the breathe and depth of the Philippine Geoportal’s current data inventory, go here.

The site also provides a Map Viewer and Map Builder apps to display maps and for online uploading of geospatial data. The Portal also provides instructions on how to use the Map Viewer and the Map Builder. The Philippine Geoportal also provides various map apps (and instructions, as well, on how to use them) namely, Tourism Map App, Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Map App, Technical Description Plotter Map App, Routing Map App, Map Composer Map App, Yolanda (Haiyan) Map App, Road Net Map App, and Infrastructure Status Reporting Map App. (I have yet got to find the time on check out these various apps though.) Also, the Geoportal also provides instructions on how to load the Philippine Geoportal layers into ArcGIS, as well as into a freeware GIS. For those using ArcGIS, go here to learn how to use the layers of the Philippine Geoportal in your software. For those using, the freeware GIS, go here for basemaps and here for other layers.

Information gathered from NAMRIA reveals that the Philippine Geoportal is powered by enterprise-level Esri ArcGIS. In choosing, Esri technology, NAMRIA wanted a complete commercial GIS working on an enterprise level and is a platform for integration, fusion, access, search and management for geospatial information (aside also from the fact that key government departments are using Esri technology.)

Regardless, I hope NAMRIA will continue its work to maintain if not make better the Philippine Geoportal. It will also be much better if most government agency will abandon their silo mentality and share their geospatial information [of course, not those related to national security and the like] in the Geoportal for the benefit of the Filipino citizenry. Besides, in this Information Age, portals are also ingresses to making a nation ‘smart’.