28 Jul, 2019 | 3 min read

Improving Coordination for Natural Disaster Responses with a Geospatial Data Sharing Platform

  • Vichitra Godamunne
  • Associate Lead Marketing Officer - WSO2

Photo credits:a befendo on Unsplash

GeoDASH is a geospatial data sharing platform in Bangladesh built using the open source GeoNode. It is supported by the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction (GFDRR) - operated via the World Bank in Bangladesh - and implemented by the ICT division of the Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC). GeoDASH enables government agencies, private enterprises, academic institutions, and the public to manage, share, and visualize geospatial data. WSO2 API Manager is used to integrate multiple services and provide secure access to GeoDASH.

Data Sharing for Better Disaster Preparedness

GeoDASH came into being in 2014 when a roadmap was initially published as a means to facilitate the sharing of data between government agencies and help improve disaster responses. The beta version of the platform was launched soon after and a data sharing working group comprising of 11 key government agencies was established. Ownership of GeoDASH was transferred from GFDRR to BCC in 2015, and the project received media coverage the following year too. More recently in 2018, Bangladesh decided to integrate GeoDASH to the country’s National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) policy.

At present, GeoDASH consists of more than 50 organizations, 250 GIS maps, and over 500 users! Yet, the data belongs to the respective organization that uploads the data, making data sharing a challenge. To add to this complexity, further platforms are being introduced in addition to GeoDASH and NSDI. These include the Urban Resilience Project which aims to increase the capacity of government agencies to respond to emergencies and reduce vulnerabilities of areas in Dhaka and Sylhet. As a part of this project, the Dhaka North City Corporation plans to build another platform named UrbanSDI/MSDI. And finally, another SDI platform exists at the BCC.

Addressing Needs and Challenges

Given the number of platforms, interoperability is a must and this did not exist at the time. Furthermore, there was a lack of standardization and collaboration, due to the various organizations developing their own e-services; a central platform to search for all e-services was absent; security and monetization were issues of concern, and a collaboration mechanism was needed for data sharing.

Guidance is provided in the form of the Bangladesh National Digital Architecture, which is a holistic approach adopted to provide e-services for citizens. This framework addresses the inclusion of a national e-services bus for better coordination and collaboration, standardization of e-services, reuse of shared e-services, cost-effectiveness, and the improvement of e-governance. The framework also introduces the National e-Service Bus, built using WSO2 API Manager; an open source API management platform that addresses the full API lifecycle, monetization, policy enforcement, and even allows customization as required.

WSO2 API Manager has enabled integration and access of e-services, access control, security and monetization, interoperability, and the sharing of services and documentation. Services integrated to date include food procurement, online internal recruitment, national identity database verification, government employee verification, geospatial data, birth and death registration, e-pensions for the education sector, a digital municipality system, and the ‘Alapon’ app for information sharing in the public sector. The implementation has met the objectives and improved both operational efficiency and coordination. Mohammed Abu Hamid, a consultant for the GeoDASH system at The World Bank, is optimistic about more successful integrations and registration of services in the future.

Learn more about GeoDASH, challenges faced, and future plans from Hamid’s talk.

Learn more about WSO2 API Manager here.