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MDAs urged to take advantage of ELA

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The National Spatial Data Management Division (NSDMD) is urging ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to take advantage of the geospatial technologies and resources available through a four-year Enterprise-wide Licence Agreement (ELA) signed in 2015.

The ELA, signed with global market leader in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri), which provides world-renowned mapping and spatial and analytics software, aims to ensure that all government agencies have access to geospatial data.

Senior GIS Manager and Trainer, Simone Lloyd, speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) 'Think Tank' recently, said it is important that agencies know that they have access to the software, which can be used to facilitate fulfilment of their mandate.

“We recognise that some agencies were able to, based on their mandate and their resources, engage Esri and be able to get whatever current software is available to facilitate their mandate. However, other agencies were not able to, so we decided as a government, to approach and to bargain for the agreement to cover the entire government so that all agencies can actively acquire software from Esri,” she explained.

The Ministry of Finance and the Public Service manages the yearly payment for the licence.

Lloyd said through the upcoming inaugural staging of the GIS User Conference, the NSDMD is hoping to promote the ELA and expand the use of the GIS software by MDAs. The User Conference will be hosted on October 10 and 11 at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel.

“The fact is, as we move towards Jamaica being more technologically enabled and, therefore, more sustainable, we need to ensure that more agencies come on board,” Lloyd said.

She noted that the NSDMD will be hosting a special 'Getting Started' workshop during the User Conference, and is inviting agencies that have recently joined the ELA and those not yet using the software to send representatives. Training sessions for the workshop will focus on the benefits, the procedure of becoming a part of it and what it entails.

She said there has been significant uptake of the GIS technology since the ELA was signed, particularly by MDAs in the security field, such as the Ministry of National Security, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Jamaica Defence Force. 

Meanwhile, the NSDMD is working with the agencies to find a solution to limitations with hardware, experienced by some agencies, to host the GIS software available under the ELA.

Lloyd said the agreement has also led to the expansion of the GIS in Schools Programme (GISSEP) of the NSDMD, as it allows schools to acquire the GIS software at no cost on their mobile phones and in computer laboratories.

“This allows students to be exposed to it and be able to utilise it in preparing for examinations and with the Geography school-based assessment and other aspects of their curriculum,” she said.