Human and technical resources for statistical-geospatial integration in Statistics Portugal

by | Jan 20, 2022




Technical infrastructure and human resources are key elements of the GSGF. This use case briefly describes the human and technical resources setup in Statistics Portugal for geospatial data management and production of geospatial statistics.

Statistics Portugal has a Cartography/GIS Unit since the final of 1990 decade. Currently the Geoinformation Unit, which is integrated in the Department of Methodology and Information Systems, has 25 technicians with GIS expertise distributed by the central Lisbon Office and by the 4 regional Delegation Offices of Statistics Portugal.

The use of cartography has supported census data collection at Statistics Portugal since 1981. In 1995, Statistics Portugal started the preparation of the 2001 Census geography, which was named “Geographic Information Referencing Base” (BGRI 2001) and was developed in a GIS environment. Since 2006, with the production of the BGRI 2011 to support the 2011 census, Statistics Portugal has been developing a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) and carrying out other statistical activities in a permanent effort to introduce the geospatial perspective and activities across the different phases and processes of statistical production.

The SDI is currently being used, in a transversal way, at Statistics Portugal activities, promoting the integration of the geospatial component in the statistical production process, in order to achieve efficiency and accuracy, within several domains such as the sampling process, the data collection or the dissemination of statistical information. The SDI also facilitates and endorses statistical-geospatial workflows between traditionally stand-alone statistical units and the Geoinformation Unit in order to make processes more effective and give some autonomy to other units regarding geospatial-related activities. 

Regarding the technological components, Statistics Portugal has a hybrid methodological approach. Commercial software for Desktop and Server solutions (ESRI ArcGIS, ORACLE, SQL Server spatial data type) are combined with open-source software (GeoServer, QGIS, Pmapper).

All the geospatial datasets are filed in an ArcSDE/Oracle geodatabase that is managed by GIS and ABD administrators. The process requires a close and regular working relationship and articulation between the Statistics Portugal Geoinformation Unit and IT team. The process to update the geospatial data is conducted by Statistics Portugal within the Geoinformation Unit.

The integration of geographic dimension with the other systems of the National Statistical System is carried out using ArcGisServer map services and web services, ensuring total integration and reducing redundancy. This integration allows the development of applications for the production of statistical information using geospatial data in which the various users will be able to view, in a secure environment, all their surveys and samples on a map simultaneously.

The INSPIRE Directive is being implemented in a fully open-source solution using a PostgreSQL database and through the publication of WMS and WFS services in Geoserver.

Despite the work that has already been developed regarding geospatial information within Statistics Portugal, it is still lacking an internal and national global geospatial data strategy for the next years that fully incorporates the geospatial perspective within the statistical production process and statistical production framework. The INSPIRE Implementation in Statistics Portugal and in several other national institutions has been one of the drivers to achieve it.