National portal for geospatial data launched in Bhutan

Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen launched the National Geospatial Portal during the Bhutan GIS Expo in Thimphu on Monday. The National Geospatial Portal will serve as a gateway for users across Bhutan to discover, access, and share geospatial data and information.

The event was jointly organized by the National Land Commission (NLC) of Bhutan and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). The portal was launched to commemorate the third wedding anniversary of Bhutan’s King and Queen.

With the portal, users will be able to access data related to Bhutan in one place. The portal takes Bhutan a step closer to fulfilling its vision of building a coordinated national spatial data infrastructure.

Highlighting the role of geoinformation in Bhutan’s socioeconomic development, Pema Chewang, NLC Secretary, said the portal will act as one-stop data shop for users. He said, “Geoinformation on the environment which were compiled in the form of maps are now available online”

Initiated by the NLC and the Centre for GIS Coordination, the portal was built with support from ICIMOD under the framework of the SERVIR¬Himalaya Initiative. The global SERVIR programme, jointly supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Aeronautics (NASA), integrates science and technology into development programmes. SERVIR¬Himalaya is implemented by ICIMOD.

“Bhutan like many other mountain countries face many developmental challenges such as glacial melt and changing ecological and agricultural patterns”, said ICIMOD’s Molden. “Geo-information will encourage the use of technology in addressing the challenges brought about by climate change, especially in reducing the impact of natural disasters”, he added. He also highlighted the role of NASA and USAID in promoting information sharing for public good.

Dema Yangzom of the Department of Hydro-Met Services said she would visit the National Geospatial Portal regularly. “The portal is a treasure box for GIS users, especially for amateurs like me”, she said.

Kritan Adhikari, lecturer at the College of Science and Technology, said the portal can speed up research work as data are made available online. “This will save a lot of time as we don’t have to travel long hours to access and acquire such data”, he said.

Following the launch of the portal, an exposition showcased various GIS products and services in Bhutan from different national and international agencies. Students from five higher secondary schools in Thimphu took part in a geoinformation quiz competition. Officials from different government departments and non-governmental organizations, school students, and the general public attended the exposition, where they were able to learn about the use of satellite imagery in addressing and understanding climate change and related issues.

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