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GDEST 2008 Conference Sessions

Theme 3 - The African Data Stream
The Challenges of Diffusing Geoinformation Technology for Decision Makin
Emmanuel Tembo, University of Botswana, Botswana

Geoinformation Technology can be said to become pervasive with the new visibility brought about by GoogleEarth and the issues surrounding climate change. However, decision makers have been slow in taking up Geoinformation Technology as a tool in economic decision making. While economic models continue to dominate in terms of how economic and planning decisions are made it is important for scientists in Geoinformation arena to bring Geoinformation solutions to the political table. This paper focuses on the challenges associated with the establishment of Spatial data infrastructure in Botswana as a building block to the vision of making Botswana a well-informed nation. It highlights the challenges the NSDI development process has undergone and what steps have been taken to move the process forward. The NSDI as a concept is seen by many in decision making as a preserve for the technocrats and sometimes is viewed as money gobbling toy with no relevance to the needs of society.
The paper will highlight some of the decisions taken with respect to NSDI implementation in Botswana at a National Conference held in November 2007. The paper identifies the main challenges to be more skills based and organizational rather than financial and technical. It also suggests the need for more visible beneficiation of GI with more service centric projects. Projects that tackle poverty alleviation, or go towards addressing MDGs will be more amenable for political reception than those that merely address new technology per se.
The paper concludes that there is need for concerted efforts from scientists in the Geoinformation technology arena to identify and address societal issues through technology in order to bring real visible benefits to the communities.