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President of the Portuguese Geographic Institute. Ladies and Gentlemen

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President of the Portuguese Geographic Institute

Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of myself and the Portuguese Geographic Institute over which I preside, It is my privilege to have been given the honour of being guest speaker at this meeting, a forum par excellence appropriate for the reflection and discussion on issues regarding Geographic Information and Geographic Information Systems in Portugal and in the world in general.

Honourable Secretary of State for Territorial Ordnance and Cities

Please accept my sincerest greetings and great pleasure in seeing you present here today, a fact which, in itself reflects not only the interest the Government places on the themes of this congress, but also because your presence, as the responsible for national policy in this area, raises expectations within the scientific and technological community and in the producers and users of Geographic Information and Geographic Information Systems.

The Portuguese Geographic Institute lies under your aegis and as such we are direct witnesses to the interest which you place on Geographic Information and the political investment which you wish to make in the Institute, in order to equip it with the means and resources indispensable for effective operation as the national authority for Geodesy, cartography and cadastre as laid out in its organic framework diploma.

GISPLANET 2005, Estoril , 31 de Maio a 2 de Junho


President of the Portuguese Geographic Institute

President of the USIG (Users of Geographic Information Systems Association) and the Organisation Committee of GISPLANET 2005

I wish to publicly declare my gratitude for distinguishing me with this invitation and congratulate you on yet another initiative – GIS PLANET 2005 – which will surely be a success for the community of Users of Geographic Information Systems and for Portugal.

In fact I consider it both opportune and fitting that I should stress the dynamism and merit of the users in Portugal, who have organized themselves around this association established in 1991, and thus harnessed the varied interests and expectations towards the common goal of promoting and developing geographic information and the dissemination and generalization of its use.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Excellence is the threshold of perfection to which any administration aspires for the body under its responsibility. Achievement of that level of merit for the Portuguese Geographic Institute (IGP) however implies the satisfaction of other intermediary levels, such as the national and international recognition of the institute as a reference within the field of geographic information. This is the strategic vision which guides our daily actions within the Board of Directors.

GISPLANET 2005, Estoril , 31 de Maio a 2 de Junho


President of the Portuguese Geographic Institute

Despite awareness that Portugal has undergone great social and economic transformations over the last few years as well as a profound evolution of its territorial structures, no summary registration or analysis of the recent past existed and above all, of the future perspective for a geographic support with a global view of the national reality. This was the void which, jointly with a renowned national scientific team coordinated by Professor Raquel Soeiro de Brito, we set out to fill with the project Atlas of Portugal.

The said document, to be published until the end of this summer, presents reflections on the social reality, on the manner in which the populations organize themselves and relate to the environment, their positioning within the national and international economic system, as well as their way of life and cultural trajectories. This will constitute an important instrument for the definition of policies and strategies appropriate to our times.

The prevailing European and domestic economic climate, in particular its repercussions at the general government level, has had an adverse effect on the activities of the IGP. Nevertheless, by focusing on innovative technical, administrative and financial solutions, two essential goals have been met: the provision of a public service as set out in the Institute’s Articles of Association and the continued undertaking of existing commitments.

GISPLANET 2005, Estoril , 31 de Maio a 2 de Junho


President of the Portuguese Geographic Institute

Investment must focus on carefully selected areas in order to maintain R&D at acceptable levels in the future. Furthermore, the difficulties faced by entities within central, regional and local government resulting from the inexistence or obsolescence of map-making and surveying data must be solved in the medium term. The most worrying situation concerns the land register, widely recognised a being of fundamental importance for the development of the country. This development will only become a reality if social and fiscal justice, and regional planning, development and management can effectively become a part of our everyday lives. Geographical information in general, and the land register in particular, are of vital importance to this development and as such cannot be thought of as mere expenses. I am certain that this Government will give high priority to resolving this issue.

In the near future, the INSPIRE (INfrastructure for SPatial InfoRmation in Europe) initiative will lead to the creation of a vitally important infrastructure for EU spatial and geographical information. The IGP must continue to accompany this initiative, even reinforce its participation in it by joining the specialised working groups that have been set up. Despite the high level of investment required on the part of each Member State, the programme is set to become one of the cornerstones on which a more timely and effective development of the European Union is built. The Institute also works closely with EuroGeographics, an association representing nearly all the different European mapping and cadastral agencies, and is on some of the working groups focusing on geographical information.

GISPLANET 2005, Estoril , 31 de Maio a 2 de Junho


President of the Portuguese Geographic Institute

The focus that the EU is giving to spatial and geographical information indicates that the National Geographical Information System will continue to benefit from the formulation and publication of new content. In the short term, the national mainland coverage carried out by SPOT5 at the end of 2003 will be added to the system, as will the orthophoto-mapping coverage of mainland Portugal carried out by the Directorate-General of Forestry Resources at the end of 2004 and to be completed during 2005 and the Atlas of Portugal.

At the legal level, we must continue to channel efforts into reviewing the laws governing cartography (DL 193/95), the production of the land register (DL 172/95) and the protection of the geodetic network (DL 143/82), and seek to create an appropriate legal framework for the Official Administrative Map of Portugal.

Approval by the Cartographic Co-ordinating Council of the laws governing national map-making, following consultation with the various mapping and cadastral agencies operating in the market, is one of the goals we hope will be met during 2005.

GISPLANET 2005, Estoril , 31 de Maio a 2 de Junho


President of the Portuguese Geographic Institute

The IGP will also strive to reach consensus with these different agencies so that in the future it will prove possible, in an organised and systematic fashion, to:

  • publish a national series of medium-scale Fire Risk Maps which will facilitate the work of all those involved in this area;
  • implement national digital orthophoto-mapping coverage at a resolution that can act as a support for all activities carried out at national level by central, regional and local government;
  • produce regional (1:100 000) Land-Use Maps from satellite images.

In a spirit of openness and co-operation aimed at helping to stimulate the production and use of geographical information, the IGP is keen to create platforms of understanding with other government bodies in order to produce vector mapping at the same or on a similar scale.

On a final note, it is my sincere hope that GIS PLANET 2005 can meet its ambitious aims, and that the enormous effort undertaken by its organisers and their contribution to the promotion of our country and geographical information in general are fully recognised.

GISPLANET 2005, Estoril , 31 de Maio a 2 de Junho