The Korean government has been making efforts to develop the geospatial information industry as a key growth engine of the Korean economy since the National Geospatial Information Symposium held in 1995. The industry is now attracting attention from overseas. However, there are as of yet some hindrances to be addressed before it can move into a stronger competitive position. BusinessKorea sat down with Park Mooik, Director General of the Spatial Information Policy Bureau at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure & Transport, to hear about the government’s policies and plans, including insight into the recent revisions of the laws governing the geospatial industry. What follows are excerpts from the interview.
What is the background of the three spatial information laws?
The Korean government’s spatial information management was consolidated in 2008, when the former Construction and Transportation Ministry’s survey and cartographic work, the Public Administration and Security Ministry’s cadastral work, and the Ocean and Fisheries Ministry’s channel investigations were transferred to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. Since then, the three laws were enacted for legal and organizational realignment and the better utilization of related systems.
Still, there have been some conflicting interests among the segments associated with spatial data that hamper the growth of the spatial information industry into becoming a leading engine of the creative economy. Major problems include the strife between companies, blurring boundaries among industry segments for excessive segmentation, the Korea Cadastral Survey Corporation’s unique characteristics in that it insists on carrying out survey work itself, and overlapping investment in equipment and manpower for additional registration.
This is why the government organized a task force with related organizations in April last year and prepared the “Plan for Promotion of Spatial Information Industry through Convergence and Sharing.” The enactment of the three bills is a follow-up of the plan.
Please let us know more about the details of each bill.
First, the previous Act on National Geospatial Information was like a framework act governing the establishment of basic plans for national geospatial information policy and the organization of the National Geospatial Information Committee for the coordination and adjustment of the policy. It has been modified into the Basic Act on National Spatial Information.
Also, the Korea Cadastral Survey Corporation is going to have enhanced public functions under the new name of the Korea Territorial Information Corporation. The basis of establishment was changed from the Act on Land Survey, Waterway Survey and Cadastral Records to the Basic Act on National Spatial Information.
Secondly, the Spatial Information Industry Promotion Institute, which was set up in June 2012, was converted into a statutory organization according to the Spatial Data Industry Promotion Act, so that anyone can make better use of geospatial information to create new business opportunities and the institute can do its job with greater stability and responsibility.
The Korean Association of Surveying and Mapping and the Korea Cadastral Association were integrated as the Korea Spatial Information Industry Association as well for greater convergence and synergy in the sector and easier public access to geospatial information.
Lastly, the Act on Land Survey, Waterway Survey and Cadastral Records was renamed to the Act on Establishment and Management of Spatial Information, because the former is about the standards, procedures and management of surveying cadastral records to form the foundation of spatial information systems. The new act is expected to result in a comprehensive management framework for survey information.
What effects are you anticipating to see come from the revisions?
The geospatial information industry is expected to enjoy very rapid growth by opening more and more national information to the public and allowing the resources to be utilized in various fields. It can be said that the new three acts set the stage for such growth.
In particular, the laws will help us deal with the delay in the sector’s development caused by conflicting interests. The information and data in the survey and cadastral segments will be managed in an integrated way and will be opened to the public for convergence and combination with other resources such as location-based services.
Moreover, the Korea Territorial Information Corporation (KTIC) will have greater public functions as the national agency of spatial information technology development, standardization, quality control, and education. In addition, the surveying excluding cadastral surveying and business relating to products supplied by small firms in the industry will be excluded from its scope of business by law to prevent any dispute with the private sector.
The KTIC will provide greater support for the private sector so that new markets are created both at home and abroad, and segments like confirmation surveying will be opened one after another.
How competitive is Korea’s spatial information industry, and what measures are required for higher competitiveness?
The first spatial information project of Korea was launched in 1995 through the National Geospatial Information Symposium. Since then, the sector has developed to be comparable to those of advanced economies. An increasing number of countries are paying much attention to Korea’s geospatial information industry these days.
Nevertheless, it is also true that the sector’s development has been led mainly by orders from the public sector, and the majority of the companies are still too small in scale to be competitive enough in the international arena. For instance, car navigation system manufacturers, which have shown a high degree of perfection in the domestic market, are finding it difficult to go abroad due to the lack of understanding of overseas traffic conditions or localization capabilities such as foreign language services.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport will encourage further international cooperation by signing MOUs with promising countries and holding the Smart Geospatial Expo and overseas road shows and the like in order to enhance the competitiveness of the industry. In this way, Korea’s public spatial information systems will be able to be exported to more nations along with related software, hardware, and human resources.
At the same time, we will be working on spatial information quality certification systems so that small-scale firms can raise their awareness and reliability and be assisted in overseas businesses. Various policies will be in place on an ongoing basis for the same purpose, including the development of source technologies based on R&D and the establishment of convergence support systems.
What are the main features of this year’s Smart Geospatial Expo?
The Smart Geospatial Expo has been held each year since 2008 to promote the development of the spatial information industry through the exchange of advanced technologies and popularization of geospatial data. The integrated events and conferences covering geospatial data services, cadastral surveying, and many more have been of great help for Korean firms’ overseas market penetration, too. Korea has also opened the Open Geospatial Consortium general assembly and adopted the Seoul Declaration at the Ministerial Meeting of the 12 countries.
The Smart Geospatial Expo 2014 is going to be a forum of international business for the realization of Government 3.0 and the Creative Economy slogans of the Korean government, and assistance in the sector’s overseas penetration. I hope the international conference for the acceleration of the growth of the geospatial information industry will enjoy a further increased standing this year.
The expo, which celebrates its seventh anniversary this year, comes with a variety of events, exhibitions, and conferences, including the International Conference on Geographic Information System (ICGIS), to promote the development of the spatial information industry and Korean companies’ overseas market penetration.
Diverse new products relating to the Internet of Things (IoT) and position measurement are available in the exhibitions. The examples include smart phone tagging-based coffee machines providing customized coffee, indoor navigation systems using tablet PCs and near field communication, and many more, all of which will catch the eyes of the audience.
The international conference that has been held since last year for Korea to take the lead in the global spatial information industry will be attended by scholars and experts from all around the world, who will discuss and make presentations about the topic of spatial big data. The third high-ranking meeting will cover specific action plans for knowledge sharing and the establishment of a permanent consultative body based on the 2013 Declaration on Manpower Cultivation in Spatial Information Sector.
Various auxiliary events such as job recruitment, a start-up expo and an idea contest for spatial information utilization are also prepared. These will be of great help for young people seeking jobs and corporate foundation.