GIS Resource Centre in Statistics Norway

by | Jan 20, 2022


geospatial data, organisation, governance, resource centre, GSBPM


Up until 2016, use of geospatial data was decentralised in Statistics Norway. Geospatial data processing was limited only to a few divisions.

No one in Statistics Norway had the overall coordination or responsibility for an overview of the infrastructure, technical needs, GIS-expertise or user needs for GIS and geospatial data. There was a weak understanding of the informal – and formal responsibilities between the departments in Statistics Norway concerning data acquisition, quality control and storage of spatial data, operation and maintenance of the geodata base, improvements of the infrastructure for GIS tools, and dissemination of the result as geospatial data. Not enough funding and competence was allocated to these tasks.

To extend the use of geospatial information to all relevant divisions and to meet needs for new and better statistics, Statistics Norway decided to establish a “GIS Resource Centre”.

The resource centre was initiated as a project, but after the project phase the goal is to streamline use of geospatial data and integration with statistical and administrative data into the work of the sectorial statistics divisions. The resource centre should still be conducting some central tasks, but primarily provide operational support for the organisation in accordance with the GSBPM.

The resource centre coordinates and makes sure that the infrastructure and technical capabilities are fit for purpose.

It can be assumed that some divisions will embrace the use of geospatial data to a large extent and thus maintain the know-how and capabilities needed, yet other divisions may need more help and support. Some tasks may even be mandated to the resource centre in support of the division/statistics at hand. The vision is to provide easy access to GIS-tools and geospatial information and strengthen the capabilities in the organisation in such a way as to make it as natural for the statistician to include geographical analysis as it is to use conventional statistical processing tools.

In the process of setting up the resource centre, Statistics Norway made the following strategic considerations:

  • Tasks close to data and the subject at hand could preferably be decentralised
  • Tasks regarding maintenance of capabilities and effective use of geospatial technology should preferably stay centralised

The resource centre provides internal GIS courses as well as organising special courses with external lecturers. A regular internal “GIS User Forum” has been set up to discuss matters of common interest as well as to inform about new features and present best practice cases.

In connection with the annual updating of the operational planning, the resource centre makes a survey for all heads of division asking them to forecast the need for assistance regarding GIS in any part of the GSBPM.

Currently, the resource centre is located within the Department for business and environmental statistics. This department is the biggest user of geospatial information, and it ensures state-of-the-art competence and knowhow regarding production of statistics based on geospatial data in the organisation.