This innovative crowdsourcing solution allows tax authorities without spatial data expertise to collect and register spatial data for the country in a simple way in the field.
In 2013, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs granted 10 million kroner to the Norwegian Mapping Authority to support the establishment of a state mapping authority in Albania. Albania was the last country in Europe without its own mapping authority. Albanian Mapping Authority (ASIG) was established in January 2014 and now has 50 employees.
The Norwegian Mapping Authority has assisted ASIG in procurement of office space and equipment, a strategic work plan for the coming years, and a simple geoportal that quickly demonstrates the benefits of a mapping authority and helped the government to allocate 3.5 million euros for creating new orthophotos and lidar scanning for 28,000 km2 of the country.
During a visit to ASIG in September 2015, the Albanian tax authorities enquired whether ASIG could assist with maps for registration of enterprises in Albania. Five hundred tax inspectors, each equipped with a tablet, launched a nationwide campaign to reduce the black economy and increase revenue from tax and VAT. The tax Inspectors, however, lacked a tool to pinpoint enterprises, because there are no street addresses. Along with ASIG it was decided to investigate whether inspectors could use a solution for locating firms on a map directly from a tablet.
A small IT company in Tirana was contacted, and within a few hours ASIG had signed a contract worth 15 000 euro. Two days later, the IT company demonstrated a solution for the tax authorities, and during the following days tax inspectors were trained. During the first week 900 companies were registered and located on the map. As of mid-November 2015, 79 000 enterprises had been registered.
The solution is a form of crowdsourcing, whereby tax inspectors locate businesses on the map and also record data about ownership, type of business, etc. The information is sent online to a central database, which is also part of the solution that Norway has financed.
The solution has shown how useful it is to have a working mapping authority in Albania, and that crowdsourcing is an effective tool in many contexts. Finally, this is also an example of the effect of flexible Norwegian assistance when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs trusts that the Norwegian Mapping Authority can manage the funds in a good way.