x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Digital tool could help redraw the map

A digital mapping tool will help surveyors redraw the "fuzzy boundaries" separating the Al Gharbia, Al Ain and Abu Dhabi districts of the emirate.

A visitor to Geographic Information System Day looks at a detailed aerial view of London.
A visitor to Geographic Information System Day looks at a detailed aerial view of London.

ABU DHABI // A digital mapping tool could help surveyors redraw the "fuzzy boundaries" separating the emirate's Al Gharbia, Al Ain and Abu Dhabi areas, the Department of Municipal Affairs said yesterday. Abdullah Ghareeb, the department's executive director of property management, said geographic information system (GIS) technology could assist surveyors in a proposed demarcation project. The project still requires the final approval of the Executive Council.

"As part of our mandate, we wanted to draw these lines," Mr Ghareeb said. "This project for demarcation is about putting some physical monuments in the ground so people will know the borders. This is important for some political points and if you need to distinguish between urban and farm areas." The official was speaking at an exhibition of the technology, which combines government records with virtual mapping software, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

Users can log on to a website to view satellite images and zoom in on locations. The system also provides details about places being viewed. In a demonstration, a GIS technician working for the department showed how the system could zoom in on a satellite image of a school, list its plot number, the number of floors in the building and the locations of individual trees and light poles. In some cases, it could even tell users how many boys compared to girls there are in a school.

"Pretty much every government in the world uses GIS or will use it," said Justin Fail, the GIS section head for Al Gharbia municipality. "If I need to send somebody out to service their water valves, I can find out: 'How do I get there? What's the fastest route? Which valve do I need to switch off in case that pipe breaks?' It's all shown there on my screen." Mr Ghareeb said the department was working to gather data from the emirate's three municipalities under one GIS system.

mkwong@thenational.ae