Postcard from Abu Dhabi

I write this from the very smart St Regis Hotel in Abu Dhabi, which has been the location for this week’s meetings of the UN-GGIM Arab States regional committee. Our regular ISO/TC 211 delegates from Saudi Arabia asked that we attend to help countries across the region better understand how they can use and relate to open standards for geographic information. There are also invited attendees from OGC, ISPRS, ICA, the SDG Data Alliance, and Geospatial World, 

The week started with a two-day workshop on the UN-GGIM IGIF with reports of progress from some countries and international input focussing on the harder legal and policy pathways. I had a short presentation to introduce the Standards Guide that exists to help countries understand how to include the standards pathway in the national action plans. It was interesting to hear again about the work of the SDG Data Alliance which exists to help countries create and implement the IGIF. This can include using the cloud SDG Data Hubs generously provided free to nations by ESRI. I still hope that they will clarify us which standards are embedded in that solution.

It has been really interesting to learn what is happening in the areas of SDIs, IGIF, and other geospatial subjects in presentations from countries that I haven’t met with professionally before: Tunisia, Morocco, Oman, and to enjoy professional conversation with colleagues from Sudan, Palestine and other places. The “big three” in the region may well be Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, but there is plenty of good work going on in other countries in the region.

Hopefully some of these conversations will lead to delegates from some of those countries joining us in our work at ISO/TC 211. All of them are already members of ISO, and several are “Observing Members” of ISO/TC 211. It was good to talk with individuals keen to become more involved, and hopefully we can help them do that.

If you do ever visit Abu Dhabi, I suggest doing it at this time of year when only the middle of the day is a bit too hot. And it was a real treat to have a tour of the magnificent modern Presidential Palace with its beautiful colour scheme and awesome mosaic work and scale.

Peter Parslow, 16th February 2023
Chair, ISO/TC 211


Published 2023-02-16