Public Service employees from 15 key government ministries, agencies and departments are participating in a week-long training programme in the use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS).

The GPS training is expected to enhance the delivery of services within the Public Service by improving its data collection, analytical, storage and management capabilities.

It follows closely on the heels of a one-week course in the fundamentals of ArcGIS Technology hosted by the Bahamas National Geographic Information Systems (BNGIS) Centre, Office of the Prime Minister. Representatives from 25 agencies participated in the ArcGIS course.

The ArcGIS and GPS training initiatives are part of the Government’s ongoing thrust to improve the delivery of services within the public service by using modern technologies to produce reliable and factual information and data quickly and easily and to assist in the day-to-day management of their operations.

Ms. Carolann Albury, Director at the BNGIS Centre, whose office is responsible for executing the initiatives, said the GPS training will play an essential role in equipping public service officials with the modern tools to support business operations including, but not limited to, areas such as asset and fleet management, vehicular tracking for security services, field inventory, topographic mapping, location management, detail criminal activities and much more. She said this will lead to a more effective and more productive public service.

Ms. Albury said while GPS technology has been available for a number of years, few applications are used, particularly in the civil service, where GPS data can be used to effectively harness, analyze and capture land and marine data that can be used in the sustainable use of the country’s natural and other resources.

The use of the system will be especially beneficial to the collection of data in far flung areas of The Bahamas that will lead to the better management, repair and inventory of roads, utilities and other infrastructure and assets, marine resources and the environment, including vector control.

Establishing a GPS Network will also assist the country in improving the delivery of services as they relate to surveying, urban planning, construction, environmental monitoring, disaster prevention and relief, scientific research, transportation management and utility distribution mapping.

“Generally, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) uses satellite navigation systems which are in orbit around planet earth transmitting signals that allow GPS receivers to be used to determine location, speed and direction,” Ms. Albury said.

“Using this technology breaks away from the traditional way of collecting field data. In times past, field officers would conduct field surveys using cumbersome maps, forms and documents to capture data. The use of GPS devices will empower officers to capture data more quickly and easily, which will have a tremendous impact on the delivery of services and the collection and sharing of information,” Ms. Albury added.

Ms. Albury said the GPS technology works “hand-in-hand” with GIS technology as field data collected using GPS can easily be converted to local coordinate systems and imported directly into GIS Applications currently being implemented in various government agencies throughout The Bahamas.

She said data collected by GPS and imported to the GIS Mapping system is “fast and economical” and can be put to “practical use” by many of the ministries, corporations and agencies and departments of government that are responsible for the provision of essential services.

“The Ministry of Works, for example, can use GPS to record government assets such as drainage wells or conduct inventories of street signs and traffic lights,” Ms. Albury said. “The Road Traffic Department may use GPS to facilitate the mapping of all bus stops and plan bus routes while the Police can use the system for monitoring and managing patrols for the dispatch of officers to locations where they are most needed.”

Mrs. Valrie Grant-Harry, the Geographic Profiles Coordinator for the Land Use Policy and Administration Project (LUPAP) Component II, said the GPS training is “timely” as the project will move into its data collection phase on the island of Abaco within a short period of time.

She said data will be collected on the environment, critical facilities, marine resources, utilities and coastal features, among others.

“The applications of GPS technology are numerous and each agency will find unique ways to use this to compliment their existing business processes,” Mrs. Grant-Harry said. “This should improve the overall efficiency of how the Government conducts business and lead to the fast-tracking of the delivery of services within the public service.

“The training is critical because now persons in the public service will be able to go out and capture the necessary data, go back, feed it into the databases and start being more productive in terms of using it in their daily functions.

“This will be true to all areas of the public service, including health, law enforcement, disaster management and so forth,” Mrs. Grant-Harry added.