Supporting the development of a new Mapping Authority

In 2012 the Government of Albania decided to establish a national mapping authority (State Agency for Geographic Information- “Autoriteti Shtetëror i Informacionit Gjeohapësinor” - ASIG), based on the overall national strategy for development and European integration. The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has provided a grant of NOK 9 663 000 to help kick start a national mapping authority in Albania. The Norwegian Mapping Authority will implement the Project.

Background

Albania is the last country of the West Balkan region to establish a national mapping authority. Before this, there was no mapping authority to store and distribute geographic data, to contribute to e-government, to participate in the EU Inspire program, or to implement the NSDI for Albania. Geodesy, mapping and preparation of geographic information has hitherto been spread among several agencies.

Photomaps and limited amounts of other maps have been produced for restitution of ownership and for legalization of informal buildings, etc, However, access to up-to-data geographic information is very limited compared with more advanced European countries. This is a significant problem to overall planning and land management as well as to development in many sectors, such as the energy sector.  A system for use of satellite positioning for surveying and mapping (ALPOS) was implemented some years ago, but the system is out of operation. The responsibility for the system will be transferred to ASIG.

The overall objective of the project is to support the establishment of a national mapping authority for Albania. The Albanian government will ensure appropriate staffing, premises and basic infrastructure. Norway is asked to transfer knowledge and help with upgrading  of existing core geographic data and make them available for users as well as with aligning the new authority with best European practices and with EU regulations on harmonization and exchange of geographic data.

The project  is a three-year program. It will concentrate on establishing a solid platform for continued operation of the new authority. The Norwegian Mapping Authority will work with the Albanian partner in developing an operational plan and a business plan and bring in place the basic capacities for storage and distribution of geographic data in compliance with international standards and the EU Inspire directive. 

Rather than producing new data, the first years will be used to bring together and harmonize data, which exist in various institutions, and to establish a modern system for distribution of data to users. Thereafter efforts will be focused on developing a strategic business plan;  on improvements of the basic geodetic framework;  on establishing technical solutions and a geoportal for storage and distribution of data to users; on ensuring the use of International standards for data upgrading and documentation; on assuming control of the Albanian satellite positioning system (ALPOS) and making it operational for users; on  developing a strategy for NSDI in compliance with the EU Inspire directive; an finally on and training and capacity building. 

It is important that the new Authority as quickly as possible becomes visible, providing basic geographic information and services to users.

Target group of the project

The project is directly targeting the new mapping Authority of Albania. By doing so, a wide group of users in private and public sectors will be assisted with access to geographic data, which they need for planning, construction and monitoring. This includes public bodies and private companies in the energy sector, where Norwegian companies are heavily involved. Also the general public will benefit from improved access to geographic information.

Geographic information is a vital component to a functioning e-government. It is estimated that up to 90 % of decisions in public sector has a geographic reference. In many cases information are better communicated when shown on maps.

Albanian – Norwegian Hydrographic Information Project

The project will contribute to competence and capacity building for the Albanian Hydrographic Service (AHS) and the Military Geographical Institute (MIG). Both institutes are led by the Ministry of Defense. 

AHS is responsible for depth mapping and navigational marking (buoys, lights, etc.). Sea measurement activities are currently underfunded, with a lack of equipment and usable boats.

Activities

The Norwegian Mapping Authority will assist AHS with the acquisition of multibeam solutions for processing and management of data. The project will also provide for the education of hydrographs, as well as the procurement and installation of  two tide gauges.

MGI is responsible for the production of sea and land maps, as well as the national geodetic network. MIG has a lot of good skills, but lacks modern equipment. Much of the support for this institute will be acquisition of production systems for ENCs and paper charts. Necessary upgrades to the network, server capacity and workstations will be included.  A "production line" will be established that includes both institutes.

The project had a formal opening in Tirana on November 27 with the participation of, inter alia, the Albanian Defense Minister, the Norwegian Ambassador and Director of the Norwegian Hydrographic Service.