Author: Kyuri Kim
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 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 land-related 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 avenues, 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.
Lack of integration of geospatial data resulted in duplication of work for public officials, as well as problems with inconsistency of data. Those complications led to confusion and increased transaction costs and also created potential for territorial disputes and lawsuits over land use.
Initially, the Ministry of Construction and Transportation and the Ministry of Home Affairs were each assigned to build and maintain land management–related systems—the Land Management Information System (LMIS) and the Parcel-Based Land Information System (PBLIS), respectively. To promote data compatibility, accuracy, and usability, the government pushed to integrate the two land administration and management systems to form a single system called the Korea Land Information System (KLIS). After establishing KLIS, the transport ministry aimed to integrate a wider range of geospatial data collected by all government agencies, involving many more stakeholders.
- Organizational solutions are just as important as technical solutions.
- Turning to an impartial body proved helpful in overcoming stalemates.
- Perceptions of the value of data sharing had to be changed first.
- Ensuring data privacy and security prevents putting the interests of some parties at risk.
- Data infrastructure needs constant improvement and maintenance.