Introduction: GIS and the Water Sector
Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are computerized systems consisting of hardware, software, personnel and digital data, developed within a framework of procedures for the creation, storage, update, analysis, and output of geographical (spatial) information.
Geographical/spatial Information is essential to the business of the different agencies comprising the Water Sector. Two major aspects are:
1) Up to 80% of information pertaining to the Water Sector is spatial (i.e., has geographical location and dimensions)
2) Many problems are solved by being analyzed spatially and by understanding their geographical aspects
In the full cycle of water exploitation, from the planning and management of water resources, to the extraction, transportation, storage, and purification of raw water, to the management and delivery of consumable water, and to the collection, transportation, treatment, and recycling of wastewater, there is an extensive need for reliable geographical information, supported by advanced spatially-based analysis functions, and seamlessly integrated with other types of information.
The PMU GIS Department
The PMU GIS Department plays a pivotal role in developing the utilization of GIS in the entire Water Sector. Such broad responsibility involves promoting GIS implementation to several key entities in the Sector to the level where GIS becomes an essential support-system to the business process of those entities, as well as a reliable source of geographical information to all concerned decision makers.
Responsibilities of the PMU GIS Department:
1. Developing GIS awareness and know-how within the PMU, the Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ), and the Water Sector
2. Developing and maintaining a GIS databank of all information layers pertaining to the projects and activities of the PMU and WAJ
3. Supporting the PMU and WAJ with GIS-derived products and services
4. Supervising the implementation and development of GIS in LEMA/Miyahuna Company
5. Expanding GIS implementation in water administrations in other Governorates. The GIS Department believes that water administrations in governorates should become GIS-enabled in order to benefit from the advantages of the system in their business processes as well as become capable of managing, updating, and structuring their spatial information according to agreed-upon and published standards and requirements, and make such information freely and easily available to other users and decision makers within the Water Sector.
6. Supervising the exchange and dissemination of geographical information with external entities (e.g. the Royal Jordanian Geographic Center, the Department of Lands & Survey, Greater Amman Municipality etc..)
In addition, the PMU GIS Department has taken the lead in implementing the Project ‘Restructuring and Streamlining of GIS in the Water Sector’. This project aims at moving away from the current situation where over the years many independent GIS initiatives have been developed all over the Sector with little coordination and no common standards, and where information is therefore not accessible to concerned users, to a more structured and streamlined implementation based on the ‘Enterprise GIS’ approach.
The anticipated advantages of the ‘Enterprise GIS’ approach are: significantly reduced data development and management cost, controlled access to valid and current geo-spatial information, simplified data maintenance workflows, and more productive use of GIS throughout the Enterprise.
Accordingly, the GIS Department has already undertaken several steps in that direction. They include:
- GIS-enabling of some entities where a major role in developing the structured GIS database is anticipated. These include the Water Projects Directorate in WAJ, the Wastewater Directorate, and water administrations in governorates.
- Developing and implementing some standards and criteria for GIS implementation at the Sector level.
- Creating awareness on the necessity and advantages of the ‘Enterprise GIS’ approach through meetings, presentations, and a workshop.
- Forming a GIS Steering Committee and a GIS Workgroup on the Sector level with representatives from MWI, WAJ, and JVA.
Future tasks include:
- The GIS-enabling of all other entities where a major role in developing the structured GIS database is anticipated. This includes the procurement of hardware and software, recruitment and training of human resources (formal-course, hands-on, and field training), and developing procedures for maintaining their local GIS databases.
- Establishing the necessary organizational setup, including GIS service groups.
- Developing, documenting, and implementing GIS standards for all shared spatial information in the Water Sector.
- Developing accessibility to the GIS databank for the community of potential users in the Sector.
- Developing GIS system documentation and metadata.
- Developing information policy for the exchange of information.
- Developing the necessary requirements for the participation of the Ministry in the National GIS Initiative