The United Nations Geographic Information Working Group (UNGIWG) is a voluntary network of UN professionals working in the fields of cartography and geographic information science.
UNGIWG was formed in 2000 to address common geospatial issues - maps, boundaries, data exchange, standards - that affect the work of UN Organizations and Member States. UNGIWG also works directly with non-governmental organizations, research institutions and industry to develop and maintain common geographic databases and geospatial technologies to enhance normative and operational capabilities. UNGIWG reports periodically to the UN Chief Executive Board (CEB) on progress made and priority issues.
Specifically UNGIWG aims to:
Improve the efficient use of geographic information for better decision-making;
Promote standards and norms for maps and other geospatial information;
Develop core geospatial data to avoid duplication;
Build mechanisms for sharing, maintaining and assuring the quality of geographic information;
Provide a forum for discussing common issues and emerging technological advances.
The structure of UNGIWG has evolved to reflect changing needs and the practicalities of managing a working group whose 30 plus Members are located around the globe. The structure and modus operandi of UNGIWG is set out in detail in its Terms of Reference. Since 2009, Special Interest Groups (SIG) and time-bound Task Groups (TG) are the implementers of decisions taken.
In 2005 UNGIWG embarked on the development of the UN Spatial Data Infrastructure (UNSDI). In 2010, UNSDI was recognized as a UN System-wide Information and Communications Technology (ICT) harmonization initiative when the General Assembly adopted the UN ICT Strategy developed by the Office of Information and Communications Technology (OICT) headed by the Assistant Secretary-General and Chief Information Technology Officer (ASG/CITO) of the UN Secretariat in New York, USA. In 2011, UNGIWG adopted the Centre of Excellence for UNSDI Project proposal developed by OICT. On 28 March 2012 in Vienna at the 12th plenary meeting of UNGIWG, the UNSDI Steering Committee, in close collaboration with OICT, will launch the Centre of Excellence for UNSDI Project funded by voluntary contributions of Member States. The first phase of implementation will take three years to complete by an interagency team from OICT, the UN Office in Geneva Information and Communications Technology Service (UNOG/ICTS) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome.