“The GIS helps the City to have an enriching and broader understanding of issues and challenges it’s faced with and assists in creating a sustainable knowledge base,” said Peter Ahmad, the assistant director in the City’s development planning and urban management department.
There were also breakaway sessions, with councillors splitting into groups to attend different sessions and workshops conducted by GIS professionals from the City and other municipal-owned entities. A variety of real-life GIS applications and gadgets were on display, including an assortment of tools used by GIS officials on a daily basis.
Printed flyers were distributed and laptops and other gadgets displayed the GIS technology used by the City.
The portfolio head of development planning and urban management, Ruby Mathang, said it was critical for the City to be on a par with global trends. It relied on GIS applications to provide vital information and services, including assisting councillors to identify which were the best places to provide services and recreational amenities.
“This is a very important day for the world, and for Joburg to join in the celebrations is very important because it means Joburg is putting itself on par with its theme of a world-class African city. An African city like ours needs to play in that competitive space and do what the world is doing at an IT level,” Mathang said.
“All these state-of-the-art gadgets and systems that we are seeing here can only take Johannesburg to greater heights.”
The expected outcome of the symposium would be for councillors to be empowered and to take the information back to their communities so it could help their daily work.
The City’s corporate geo-informatics (CGIS) unit, which falls under the department of development planning and urban management, uses computer software to provide a variety of GIS-related services, including spatial data, geographic information, mapping, and identifying spatial patterns and trends.
The mapping system allows the unit to monitor urban management and service delivery shortfalls in all seven of its regions. It updates real-life information twice a week and provides detailed data with full area reports, zoning certificates and spatial patterns.
Ahmad said GIS provided the ability to demonstrate things in a very visual, spatial manner, including land strategy, precinct plans and development frameworks, and almost all new spatial projects.
Jak Koseff, the City’s director of social assistance, told councillors that geographic information systems were integrated software for analysing all forms of geographically referenced information.
He said GIS allowed the City to understand, question and interpret data. “GIS helps us to answer questions and solve problems by looking at data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared,” he explained.
International Day of Geographic Information Systems is observed the world over by users of mapping technology to demonstrate real-life applications that make a difference in our daily lives. More than 30 ward councillors attended the symposium at the zoo.
Marcelle Hattingh, the director of CGIS, said the City had decided to dedicate the day to councillors because without them it wouldn’t be able to make the impact it needed to on the ground. “So you are an important link and today we want to expose you to our world and identify your requirements,” she said.