1. About the Center
The Geospatial Data Center for Education, Research and Development (GDC-ERD) aspires to become; a leading center in geospatial data technology and applications (geographic information systems and remote sensing), an important source of digital geospatial data at in the Gaza Strip, and a strong partner within the structure of the Palestinian National Geospatial Data Infrastructure.
The GDC-ERD aims to promote the culture of using geospatial data and technologies (its tools and spatial analysis theories) in scientific research within the Gaza Strip, which will help researchers, academics, students and policy makers to explore the geographical dimension (spatial) and the spatial relations in their multi-disciplinary applications.
This GDC-ERD 's message came from the deep faith of those in charge of the center that Place/Space (physical term) is the most important limiting factors for the development of many development sectors within the Gaza Strip, because the land resources are non-renewable and non-expandable. Therefore, the land resources must be taken into consideration when doing research throughout using geospatial data and techniques to come to a higher state of development and sustainable planning.
The GDC-ERD was admitted by the Al-Aqsa University's Council on its meeting No. (06/2015). GDC-ERD is specialized in the applications of geospatial technologies to promote a deeper understanding of many problems with a spatial dimension, those problems are commonly related to the environmental health , and the social-economic status of Palestinian society. The geospatial technology gives a flexible space to study a lot of different and divergent phenomena that has a geographical distribution regardless of its nature. Geospatial technology have been used in many application, for example to study: climate change, environment protection(desertification, land degradation, urban sprawl, etc..), services distribution, hot spots of disease, economic conditions and distribution of marginalized families and poor, social justice policies, crimes distribution.... etc.Geospatial technology is not limited only to study of these natural and human-made phenomena as they are present, but also help us to predict the changes through time and space, which give us room to respond immediately to the negative consequences . Therefore this technology help us in a careful analysis of the problem and to mobilize the necessary resources to tackle its consequences.
The GDC-ERD's researching community provide their multiple experiences of different geospatial sciences; remote sensing and digital image processing, image interpretation, and geographic information systems (GIS), Global Positioning System (GPS), geographic field surveys and terrain analysis and spatial and temporal modeling to support the natural and human sciences, with the necessary geospatial technology and data for exploring the spatial dimensions of the complex relationships between human and the environment.
GDC-ERD focuses on creating a partnership with researchers from; Al-Aqsa University and other universities and with institutions of the public and private sector for developing uses of geospatial technologies and data in multi-disciplinary research throughout ; analysis of remote sensing imageries, geographic information system's data layers, field surveys and socio-economic data. Consequently, publish the finding in the GDC-ERD Online Platform of the Geospatial Scientific Research, or on peer reviewed local and international journals .
GDC-ERD provides an excellent infrastructure to enhance the opportunities of scientific research and training through its research workgroup structure, which includes; faculty staff, students, researchers and technicians of Al-Aqsa University, along with the existing expertise within other local institutions as well as individuals of Palestinian society. This inclusive combination and alliance of the workgroup and technology will increase chances for successful adaptation of geospatial knowledge within the Gaza Strip.
The GDC-ERD awares that the life blood of scientific research lies in data and awares also that accurate data (especially the geo-referenced data) is the basis for proper planning and most sustainable, especially in developing societies similar to the Gaza Strip, where it leads to a successful implementation of developmental projects and at lowest cost. One of the most important missions of GDC-ERD is to build a Geospatial Data Repository (phenomena' properties with its geographical coordinates), Consequently, GDC-ERD is dedicated in collecting, developing and handling, maintaining and updating digital geospatial databases, such geospatial data has become one of the most important achievements in recent information era and also the strong pillar for the development and evolution of societies such as in Gaza Strip, where it is facing enormous challenges, such challenges where doubled by the non-renewable and limited land resources within the Gaza Strip's territory, such facts caused in increasing the conflict between all sectors in the Gaza Strip for the acquisition, retention and use of extra land without a logical justification in most cases (for example: consuming the limited land owned by government in housing projects of low building, such policy will led to losing the non-renewable land resources in very short time). These exceptional circumstances of utilizing land resources within the Gaza Strip require the use of scientific geospatial tools and theories to achieve more wiser, justifiable and sustainable management of land resources than any other tools or any other time. GDC-ERD helps in establishing a new scientific bases within the researching community of the Gaza Strip, through its researching field and helps in making geospatial data available (such as satellite and airborne images, field surveys data, ancient and modern maps, archives of digitized and scanned maps, modeling ... etc), which are often needed by executive managers and decision-makers in many sectors (such as the ministries and authorities of; agriculture, Industry, Land and water resources management, environment, transport , communications, social affairs, housing .... etc) in order to know the past and the present to develop sustainable planning policies for the future. Thus, the provision of accurate geospatial data will contribute to resolve a lot of dilemmas in land use, the careful analysis of the spatial relationships between land and those crossing sectors will affect positively the decision making for an integrated and sustainable development at the local and national level.
The GDC-ERD enhances the working environment of teaching and learning process. Education in geospatial technology is very expensive, because it relies on too expensive; tools, software, data, efforts, time and specialized human resources. The GDC-ERD provides such precious opportunity for teaching and learning through its sophisticated computer laboratory equipped with GIS and remote sensing , such facility is necessary to meet the demands of lecturers (with geographic and non-geographic backgrounds) for the geospatial education, training and scientific research. In addition, GDC-ERD provides a technical services through its training programs and consultation for the institutions of research, academy and development, to provide them with geospatial technology applications. Moreover, GDC-ERD aspires to join an international networking programs and create partnerships with other international research institutions working in the same field of education, research and development, such networks and partnerships will enhance the internationalization of geospatial applications in the Gaza Strip.
1- Conduct research, particularly in the field of development to guide public policies and related national programs and to strengthening the wise and sustainable development and planning.
2- Setting up an electronic platform specialized in publishing and disseminating the geospatial research which highlights the unique environment of the Gaza Strip.
3- Lunch a geospatial data repository and Spatial Data Infrastructure-SDI for archiving and maintaining the geospatial data that support researchers, academics, students and decision-makers to explore a deeper understanding of problems facing the Gaza Strip. Such infrastructure will support data collection not only at the national level, but also at the regional and global level for educational and academic purposes.
4- Provide technical assistance and training curriculum for individuals and institutions in the field of geospatial data technology.
5- Promote civil dialogue and the involvement of the local community and relevant institutions in order to disseminate a deeper understanding of geospatial applications and it's advantages.
Funders of the GDC-ERD:
The GDC-ERD depends mainly on international donors and funding agencies that keeps friendly relationships with the Palestinian people, and are supporting similar field of research, education and development projects that based on utilizing geospatial data and technology.