Ministry VROMI recipient of Special Achievement in Geographic Information Systems Award

The Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI) is one of several 2013 recipients of a Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) award from the leading Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software developer Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI).  

The acting Secretary General of VROMI, Louis Brown, visited San Diego, California in July of 2013 to receive the award on behalf of the ministry at the 2013 ESRI International Users Conference.

The award was given to VROMI for its recent initiatives in developing a national GIS for Sint Maarten. VROMI has started laying the foundation for a national GIS by creating a digital base map that will have broad and multiple uses for Sint Maarten that will benefit countless users within the public sector, and in the future the wider population of Sint Maarten.

The national GIS will be particularly beneficial to institutions that require accurate and current digital geographic information about Sint Maarten to increase their service efficiency and effectiveness.

With the robust technology of GIS, VROMI aims to create a digital geographic platform where users can tap into the available information, as well as create and add other layers of geospatial data that can be shared among multiple stakeholders.

The foundation for the VROMI GIS platform has been developed in collaboration with the Land Registry Office of the Cadaster of Sint Maarten, whereby current information about all land parcels of the country are layered on the aerial photo and topographic map of Sint Maarten. The first project undertaken by VROMI entails the creation of an authoritative map of the roads and road names of Sint Maarten.

In collaboration with the Department of Statistics (STAT), an additional project is currently underway to survey, take inventory and categorize all existing buildings on Sint Maarten with correct addresses. This information will be made available via the National GIS being developed by VROMI.

The Office of Disaster Management (ODM) and VROMI have also participated in several European Union (EU) sponsored trainings and workshops under the Regional Risk Reduction Initiative (R3I – project) in the use of GIS to support disaster management efforts.

This project has focused on the modeling of possible severe rainfall events and tsunamis, to identify the most vulnerable areas that may be threatened by such events and enable response strategies to mitigate the effects, such as loss of life and property. The flood modeling maps developed from this project are also being incorporated in the National GIS.

In the future, the national GIS of Sint Maarten will also feature information on all established zoning plans, protected monuments, issued permits, and countless other geospatial data features that may be useful for planning, policy development, enterprise asset management and other purposes. This will be undertaken as a collaborative exercise with other potential users of the GIS.

To further promote the development and use of a national GIS for Sint Maarten, Ministry VROMI is co-hosting a workshop with the Caribbean Chapter of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) that will be held in Sint Maarten on 6 – 8 November 2013 at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort.

The workshop will be attended by delegates from various countries in the Caribbean who will be sharing and discussing key issues impacting the development of the GIS in their respective territories. The workshop will include a high-level Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) forum as a follow-up to the conference held in Jamaica in November of 2012, where the development of a Regional SDI will be discussed.

The event will also feature a URISA workshop entitled "Return on Investment in GIS", which will provide attendees with a session dedicated to assisting IT Directors and Managers, GIS Managers, decision makers and operational personnel to determine the return on investment for GIS.

Furthermore, the event will also feature a 1-day workshop by the International Cartographic Association (ICA), providing a hands-on educational session on Modern Cartography through the application of "web mapping", "open source" and "service-oriented mapping" technologies.

On the evening of November 6, 2013, the Ministry of VROMI and the Tourist Bureau of the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Government of Sint Maarten will host an opening ceremony to commence the workshop.

After the workshop in November, the Ministry of VROMI intends to host follow-up sessions on the topic of the development of the national GIS for Sint Maarten with all relevant stakeholders. The intention will be to engage prospective partners to outline a course of action that will enable an engaging and participatory approach whereby an effective national GIS platform can be developed together with stakeholders.

As GIS is essential for government decision-making, business intelligence and communications, the Ministry of VROMI is encouraging attendance to the November workshop by all government entities, businesses and institutions in Sint Maarten that can benefit from the application of this technology.

For more information on the conference, interested persons can visit the Caribbean Chapter section of the URISA website at .

For sponsorship, attendance and other opportunities, please contact the local Workshop Organizing Contact (WOC) through the acting Secretary General of VROMI, Louis Brown, Tatiana Arrindell at the office of the Minister of VROMI Ta***************@si***********.org, or Miklos Giterson at the Ministry of VROMI Mi*************@si************.org.

PHOTO CUTLINE: L to R, Roy Huggins (GIS4C), Jack Dangermond (President of ESRI), Louis Brown and Eric Sussenbach.