Integrating Geospatial Information: How the Republic of Korea Overcame Institutional Obstacles to Improve Data Management, 1998–2016
Following two gas explosions in 1995 that resulted from poor management of information on underground pipes, the Republic of Korea accelerated its efforts to update and integrate spatial data, such as underground maps. The Ministry of Construction and Transportation (which became the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in 2013) led the integration initiative, but the ministry faced a lack of cooperation from counterpart ministries and agencies. It was often at a stalemate with its main counterpart, the Ministry of Home Affairs: the two ministries could not reach a consensus over how landrelated information should be collected, managed, and shared. This case study describes how the land ministry overcame these challenges by seeking mediation or windows of opportunity through higher bureaucratic channels, and by leveraging its experience and resources to scale up geospatial data integration. From its start combining just two datasets in 1998, it went on to establish a fully integrated geospatial data system consisting of nearly 80 datasets from different agencies, which it then disseminated across the entire nation. By 2016, the Republic of Korea’s National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) had not only prevented further disasters, but also dramatically reduced administrative costs and inefficiencies in the public sector. The integrated data system also enabled government officials to make better-informed policy decisions.
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