Global Mapping 
- Development of a Global Geographic Dataset -

Hiroshi Une

Geographical Survey Institute (GSI), Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport 305-0811, Tsukuba, JAPAN


The Global Mapping project is an international collaborative initiative through voluntary participation by national mapping organizations of the world, aiming to develop a globally homogeneous geographic data set at the ground resolution of 1km. The primary objective of the Global Mapping project is to contribute to sustainable development through a base framework geographic dataset.

Keywords: Global Map, ISCGM, National Mapping Organization, GLCC, GTOPO30, Vegetation, Land Use, Land Cover, Elevation, VPF

1. Introduction

The Global Mapping project is an international collaborative initiative through voluntary participation by national mapping organizations of the world, aiming to develop a globally homogeneous geographic data set at the ground resolution of 1km.
The primary objective of the Global Mapping project is to contribute to sustainable development through a base framework geographic dataset. At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, Agenda 21 was adopted as an action program for addressing global environment challenges while continuing to support sustainable economic development. Agenda 21 clearly mentions that there is need for improved coordination among environmental data and information activities, and it emphasized the transformation of existing information into forms more useful for decision-making. In particular, geographically specific spatial information is critical. Spatial information enables us to enhance our understanding of global and regional relationships inherent in present status and processes leading to changes in key components of global environment. To this end, in 1992, the then Ministry of Construction (presently Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport) of Japan advocated the Global Mapping concept.
Thanks to the various activities for getting international agreement implemented by ISCGM and related organizations, the need for Global Mapping in addressing global environmental issues has been well confirmed among the international community, particularly at the United Nations. Paragraph 112 of the "Program for the further implementation of Agenda 21," a document adopted by the UN General Assembly in June 1997 states, "A supportive environment needs to be established … to facilitate public access to information on global environment issues … using … such tools as geographic information systems and video transmission technology, including Global Mapping."
In this paper, the authors introduce an outline of the Global Mapping project, in light of the promotion of using Global Mapping data in the field of disaster reduction.


2. Existing Global Geographic Datasets

The first global collaborative effort to create framework data layers, the International Map of the World (also known as the Carte Internationale du Monde au Millionieme) was initially proposed by Prof. Albrecht Penck, a famous German Geographer, at the 5th International Geographical Congress in 1891. This project was taken over by the United Nations, and several countries produced the maps in accordance with the guidelines of this project. However, it was never completed and the end of the project was officially resolved at the 11th United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for Asia and the Pacific in 1987.
Despite the failure of International Map of the World, various global geographic datasets were developed for the project's special purpose, mainly thanks to the efforts of the U.S. agencies.
The Defense Mapping Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense (currently National Mapping and Imagery Agency: NMIA) started to develop "Operational Navigation Chart" (ONC) at the scale of 1:1 million for the purpose of airborne navigation in 1961. ONC is a series of printed paper map with indication of coastlines, rivers, contour lines, roads, railways, cities, administrative boundaries and aeronautical information such as aerodromes, vertical obstructions and special airspaces. It covers all land area in the world except Antarctica and may be purchased without restrictions. Besides, it was digitized and released in 1992 as the "Digital Chart of the World" (DCW). DCW is currently named as "Vector Map (Vmap) Level 0" and available via CD-ROM at a marginal cost.
As for elevation data, the EROS Data Center of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) organized an international collaborative project to develop a global digital elevation model. It was completed in 1996 as "GTOPO 30," consisting of digital elevation data at an interval of 30 seconds longitude and latitude, covering all the land area in the world. This is downloadable free of charge over the Internet.
Concerning land use and land coverage data, USGS, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) generated a 1-km resolution global land cover characteristics (GLCC) database for use in a wide range of environmental research and modeling applications in 1997. GLCC database has 1-km nominal spatial resolution and is based on 1-km Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) data from NOAA Satellites, photographed in the period spanning April 1992 through March 1993. It was produced as an International Geosphere Biosphere Programme-Data and Information System (IGBP-DIS) initiative lead by the Land Cover Working Group and has been subjected to a formal accuracy assessment (the IGBP DISCover classification).
However, these existing data sets are not good enough for use in analysis of global environment issues and in planning of measures, because they include the following problems:

1) GTOPO 30 and Vmap Level 0 do not have homogeneous quality across the globe. Figure 1 is a shaded map from GTOPO30 around Nepal. The discontinuous texture of shading found at the lower right part of the area is caused by coarse DEM resolution in the figure. Figure 2 shows the river and road network in Vmap Level 0. The road network is very sparse in the lower right and upper left parts. These facts indicate that there are inhomogeneous qualities in these data sets.
2) For use as baseline data for environment issues, time series data is indispensable. Especially, land cover and land use data should be revised periodically. However, no concrete plan exists for the revision of that data.
3) These data sets have been produced by single or a small group of organizations. Consequently, content of these data sets has not been authorized nor endorsed by any local authorities.

Estes and Moneyhan (1994) state "a major factor hindering research- and applications- oriented studies of theses issues (global change research M.E.) today is that adequate maps do not exist for many areas of the world. Depending upon scale, thematic content, and timeliness, this is equally true for both the developed and the developing world. The value of data is many times more valuable than its cost. Mapping is an important, complex, expensive, and time-consuming task that … we are not performing today in an acceptable fashion."
In order to solve these problems, continuous and collaborative efforts by the local authorities are necessary. National Mapping Organizations of respective countries are the proper organizations, which continuously provide core scientific geographic data sets through international cooperation tightened by close user relations. Global Mapping is the mechanism to ensure the development and maintenance of consist and accurate global geo-spatial information, and to make such information available and accessible to the public through the cooperation of National Mapping Organizations throughout the world.


3. Structure for Promoting Global Mapping Project

In order to realize and enhance the global mapping concept, the International Steering Committee for Global Mapping (ISCGM) was established in 1996. It has 18 members who are heads of National Mapping Organizations (NMOs) in 16 countries and representatives from SCAR (Science Committee on Antarctic Research) and EuroGeographics. Advisors are representatives from international organizations and academic institutions such as UN HQs, UN Environment Program, UN University and ICA. The Geographical Survey Institute of Japan (GSI) has been taking the secretarial role of ISCGM since its founding. ISCGM has three working groups to discuss more detailed plans. WG1 works for development of strategic action plans, WG2 for specifications and WG3 for data policy.
ISCGM has held following eight meetings since its establishment to discuss action plans, specifications, data policy, etc. for smooth implementation of the Global Mapping project:

* 1st ISCGM Meeting in February 1996 in Tsukuba, Japan
* 2nd ISCGM Meeting in November 1996 in Santa Barbara, USA
* 3rd ISCGM Meeting in November 1997 in Gifu, Japan
* 4th ISCGM Meeting in June 1998 in Sioux Falls, USA
* 5th ISCGM Meeting in November 1998 in Canberra, Australia
* 6th ISCGM Meeting in July 1999 in Cambridge, UK
* 7th ISCGM Meeting on March 16, 2000 in Cape Town, South Africa
* 8th ISCGM Meeting on May 25, 2001 in Cartagena, Colombia.

Complete coverage of Global Mapping will only be realized by the participation of the entire national mapping organizations of the world. In November 1998, the UN sent a letter with the Chairperson of ISCGM to heads of NMOs inviting respective countries and regions to join the Global Mapping project with a recommendatory letter of the Director of The UN Statistics Division. NMOs shall participate in the Global Mapping Initiative voluntarily. There are three levels of participation. Level A participation will see countries develop Global Mapping (GM) of their own and other countries. Level B participation has countries develop GM of their own countries only. Level C country participation will provide data needed for the development of GM. Currently, 84 countries and regions have participated in the project and 34 are now positively considering joining. The area covered by participated countries and regions exceeds 70% of the whole landmass and more than 80% are covered if one includes the countries and regions considering participation. Member organizations participating in the project are mainly NMOs because they have source of information of core geographical data as a result of their original work. SCAR participates in the project and is developing GM of the Antarctica.
ISCGM sets the period of the first phase of the GM development to the year 2000, whose target was to make the Global Mapping version 1.0 available. Member organizations have been producing GM of their own territories, while GSI and USGS EROS Data Center had created global data set by converting existing global data, Vmap Level 0, GLCC and GTOPO30. GSI, as a level A country, has also been developing GM of Asian countries collaborated with NMOs of respective countries. As a result, Global Mapping version 1.0 for five countries was released on 28 November 2000 when the declaration was made in the Global Mapping Forum 2000 in Hiroshima. It is expected that some forty countries will complete development of GM by the time of the Rio+10 conference.


4. Global Mapping Specifications

Global Mapping should be developed as a global geographic database of known and verified quality with consistent specifications. Global Mapping specifications were first adopted at the Fifth ISCGM Meeting in 1998 and a minor amendment was made at the Seventh ISCGM Meeting in 2000. The full text of the Global Mapping specifications is available at:

(1) Data Format
Format for vector data shall be in Vector Product Format (VPF) by the United States National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), and for raster data, Band Interleaved by Line (BIL) with separate headers used. The vector data consists of four layers, such as transportation, boundaries, drainage and population centers, and raster data consists of elevation, vegetation, land cover and land use as well.
Classification criteria for vegetation, land cover and land use are as follows:

1) Vegetation
Tropical rainforest (deciduous in dry season), Hydrotropic forest (deciduous in dry season), Grassland in tropical or sub-tropical zone, Semi-desert in tropical or sub tropical zone, Desert in tropical or sub-tropical zone, Evergreen thick-leafed forest, Evergreen broad-leaved forest, Deciduous broad-leaved forest, Grassland in temperate zone, Semi-desert intemperate zone, Desert in temperate zone, Northern coniferous forest, Tundra, Water body, Ice and snow, Wetland, Mixed forest, Mixed land, Non natural and Unclassified. This classification was determined considering Walter vegetation classification, NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) data observed by NOAA / AVHRR sensor.

2) Land Cover
Evergreen Needleleaf Forest, Evergreen Broadleaf Forest, Deciduous Needleleaf Forest, Deciduous Broadleaf Forest, Mixed Forest, Closed Shrublands, Open Shrublands, Woody Savannas, Savannas, Grassland, Permanent Wetlands, Croplands, Urban and Built-Up, Cropland / Natural Vegetation Mosaic, Snow and Ice, Barren or sparsely Vegetated, Water Bodies. This classification was determined considering International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) Land Cover Classification.

3) Land Use
Forest, Mixture, Grassland / Shrub, Agricultural Area, Wetland, Barren Area, Built-up Area, Drainage / Water, Ocean. This classification was determined considering visual classification using LANDSAT TM data whose resolution is about 1km on land.

(2) Geodetic Datum and Ellipsoid
Global Mapping Specifications adopts combination of International Terrestrial Reference Frame 1994 (ITRF94) and the Geodetic Reference System 1980 (GRS80) ellipsoid as the current world geodetic system.

(3) Tiling
To manage the large amount of data, the Specifications adopt a tiling system. The size of one tile is five degrees in latitude by five degrees in longitude in cases where the tile is located between zero degrees and forty degrees in latitude. There is no overlap or gap between tiles.


5. Global Mapping Forum 2000 and Release of Global Map Version 1.0

Global Mapping Forum 2000 was held at International Conference Center Hiroshima in Hiroshima City, Japan from 28 - 30 November 2000 getting together 250 specialists of geographic information and environmental science from 33 countries.
During the Forum, release of Global Map version 1.0 was declared. At the same time, the web server of the ISCGM became operative and a provision for releasing the Global Map data was officially started. Data first released were the Global Map version 1.0 of five countries: Japan, Lao P. D. R., Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Philippines followed in December 2000, Colombia in May 2001, Australia in June 2001 and Bangladesh in 22 July. Global Map Version 0 data, which had been converted from existing global geographic information (GTOPO30, GLCC) according to Global Map Specifications, were also released. Non-commercial users such as governmental institutions, research organizations as well as private researchers can download these data via Internet free of charge. In addition, more than 10 countries are near to completing their data for the Global Map Version 1.0. More than 1,500 users have registered with the download page of ISCGM and data have been downloaded more than 10,000 times since its release. The Global Map web site is:
30 oral and 20 poster presentations were made in the Forum. Delegates of various positions, such as representatives of the United Nations among international organizations, heads of NMO of respective countries, researchers of academia, and representatives of international research institutes made significant presentations on the situation of the Global Map development of each country, the present status of geographic information, regional development with geographic information, and application of the Global Map to disaster mitigation and global change researches. Through these presentations, strong impressions were given from the participants that Global Mapping has become a big international project garnering international attention. Global Map has been developed firmly throughout the world; and applications of the Global Map have been started to various fields.
At Concluding Session held at the end of the Forum, "Hiroshima Statement for Global Map" was adopted unanimously. Mentioned in the Statement are: 1) to celebrate the release of Version 1.0 of the Global Map, 2) to thank 81 countries who have participated in the Global Mapping Project, 3) to encourage those countries not yet committed to join the Global Map to join, 4) that challenge is to maintain and enhance the Global Map and to implement policies that result in the widest possible access and use of the product; and 5) to appreciate the hospitality of the citizens of Hiroshima and that more sustainable and truly peaceful world through the Global Map is encouraged by tireless pursuit for peace of the citizens of Hiroshima.


6. Global Mapping Project Phase II

Phase I of the Global Mapping Project was successfully completed in 2000. Two major issues lie ahead tackled in the next phase of Global Mapping Project. They are how Global Map will be updated and upgraded, and how we will promote usage of the Global Map data.
Concerning the former, one of the advantages of the Global Mapping initiative is the big number of its participating organizations. This advantage makes it possible to assure reliability of the final product through proper verification, i.e. "ground truth," implemented by each NMO in the world.
Besides, recent progress in space technology gives us the opportunity to revise global scale geographic datasets in a more consistent way. The MODIS sensor borne on TERRA satellite launched by NASA in December 1999 makes it possible to update GLCC dataset in 250m resolution. The GLI sensor borne on ADEOS-2 satellite of National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA), planned to be launched soon is also expected to be used for GLCC updates. SAR interferometry data obtained by SRTM and conducted in February 2000 can be used to update GTOPO30 in higher resolution.
At the 8th ISCGM Meeting, an implementation plan for the second phase of the Global Mapping Project was discussed. Though a decision was not made, the Committee agreed to continue discussion for several months.
Regarding promotion of usage of the data, the theme of the Global Mapping Forum 2000 in Hiroshima focus on that issues specifically. A number of speakers expressed their expectations for the further development of Global Map as the basic framework data for their researches and businesses. In order to respond to such requirements, Members of ISCGM are discussing how to conclude the data policy of Global Map data, not only for non-commercial uses by the national and international organizations and researchers, but also for commercial purposes by private sectors.


7. Applications of Global Map

One of the advantages of the Global Map is that the included data are well coordinated and inter-operable. Even by using Global Map data only, various kinds of visual images are available easily. Figure 4 is an example of a bird's-eye view image processed from Global Map Sri Lanka. The viewpoint is from the southwest of the country. Land use and transportation layers are overlaid, and elevation data are used for processing. From this image, geographical patterns of land use and the development of infrastructure and the relationship of land use and topography are clearly identified, such as the urbanization around the capital concentrated in the western foot of the central mountains, and the agricultural area distributed in the western and eastern foot of the mountains, etc. If other geographical data, e.g. precipitation, population, agricultural production etc. could be used in combination, valuable results from further analysis would be expected.
There exists the argument that the scale of Global Map is too low-resolution to use for domestic and local level analysis. However, 1:1 million or 1km resolution is not necessarily too coarse for such kind of analysis. In Figure 5, the geographic conditions surrounding Bangkok Metropolis, in terms of land cover, drainage, traffic network and more, can clearly be identified, which shows that Global Map also provides enough information for local level geographical analysis.
Besides, the Ministry of Construction (1999) conducted a pilot case study to certify the effectiveness of use of the Global Map for assessment of environmental and socioeconomic impact brought about by a large-scale infrastructure construction work. The Nam Kam watershed in the Mekong Basin, northeast Thailand, was adopted as a case study area. Three models are adopted in this study:

1) Land use model for changes in land use,
2) Hydro-environmental model for water resource quantity
3) Soil-environmental model for amount of soil runoff.

Table 1 indicates an example of the results of the assessment. In this study, it was clarified that the combined use of the Global Map data and other related data enables comprehensive assessment, which will be an effective tool for future decision-making. Global Map data can be effectively applied for the assessment of watershed and basin development and consequently contribute to the sustainable development of various areas.
In the presentation made at Global Map 2000 in Hiroshima, Prof. Estes demonstrated that the 1km resolution global data are relevant locally. He analyzed the case of Mozambique floods in 2000. He estimated the damage quantitatively using Radarsat Data, Vmap Level 0, GLCC, UNEP GRID Population Density and USGS/USAID Cropland Use Intensity Data. The result is in Table 2.
Other than Prof. Estes' Presentation, many oral and poster presentations were made concerning the contribution of Global Map data for global environment research. Among those, Chang and Chaijaroenwatana (2001) conducted a logistic regression analysis and achieved the statistical relationship of shrimp farming, closeness to coastline, proximity to roads, and ground slope using Global
Map Thailand and data obtained from the Thai Government. The fitted model is: Logit (p) = 1.7198 - 0.3143 mg - 1.2898 dw, where p is the probability of occurrence of shrimp farming, mg represents presence or absence of mangrove forest and dw represents proximity to coastline/estuary. This study also demonstrates the relevance of Global Map data to local scale geographic analysis.

ISCGM decided to continue to provide Global Map data to non-commercial users via Internet free of charge. Global Mapping Community expects researchers in the field of land use/cover change to use the Global Map data as much as possible.

Table 1 Result of Assessment of Water Resource Development in Nam Kam Watershed using Global Map Data.
Scenario 1: existing dam only; Scenario 2: without dam; Scenario 3: with an irrigation dam

Table 2 Estimated Affected Areas, Lengths and People by Mozambique Floods 2000

  Affected Area 1,450 km2
  CW Roads 176 km
  DCW Railroads 25 km
  Developed, Irrigated Cropland 109 km2
  IGBP DisCover
    - class 12 cropland 143 km2
    - class 13 urban 113 km2
    - class 14 cropmozaic 158 km2
  Affected Population 180,000 People

8. Continuation of Global Mapping

The founding chairperson of ISCGM Dr. John E. Estes, Professor of the University of California, Santa Barbara, passed away on March 9th, 2001. The Vice Chairperson Mr. Peter Holland, General Manager of the Australian Surveying and Land Information Group, has been filling the role of acting chairperson until the determination of the new chairperson is made. Despite the loss of the great leader of Global Mapping, ISCGM will continue to accomplish its objectives and realize its principles with international cooperation and collaboration.

Fig.1 Shaded Map in Nepal processed from GTOPO30.


Fig.2 Rivers and Roads in Vmap Level0

Fig. 3 Current Participation in Global Mapping Project


Fig. 4 Bird's-eye view processed from "Global Map Sri Lanka". Land Use and Transportation are overlaid and Elevation data are used for processing.


Fig. 5 Land Cover, Transportation, Drainage, Administrative Boundaries and Population Centers of Bangkok and its Vicinity. Processed from "Global Map Thailand"



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