Starting in 1986 as a geo-graphic information system (GIS) technology pilot project by six Icelandic utilities in Reykjavik and the state-owned Post and Telecommunications Departments, Iceland's GIS has paved the way for a new way of doing business for Iceland's public service sector. With new data and methodologies in place, the GIS protocol exploded in popularity during 1995 among third-party public agency users, who want to access and use up-to-date mapping data without having to maintain them. Thanks to GIS's ability to link many of Iceland's government agencies and utilities, information and maps have become a shared resource. Maps and data that were once maintained by each company no longer have just one owner; they have several. Maps are requested from any network node and updated throughout the database, enabling the users to work in a streamlined manner by not replicating each other's efforts in maintaining the same data on their own systems.

The Role of GIS Before implementing the GIS, Iceland's utilities were each producing the same maps from field studies to show each other's infrastructure. Updated maps were important to prevent mishaps, such as cutting underground cable when digging to install another underground facility. Updating the manual maps and databases was time consuming. Only one section of Reykjavik was updated annually. Other areas were updated on a hit-and-miss process. An employee typically would have a long wait to obtain an up-to-date map of a particular region.

In 1988, six agencies in Reykjavik initiated a pilot project to seek a new, more efficient mapping system. The agencies involved included the Iceland Post and Telecommunications Department, the Reykjavik City Engineer, the Reykjavik District Heating Service, the Reykjavik Municipal Electric Works, the Reykjavik Municipal Water Works and the Reykjavik City Planning Office.

Within six months, the agencies discovered that the GIS software could be a shared repository for maps and information to enable all agencies to work in a more efficient manner. The agencies selected the ARC/INFO GIS mapping software, supplied by ESRI of Redlands, California, U.S., as the backbone software since it was felt that an open GIS would perform well on the HP UNIX workstation, which was the hardware to be installed. The GIS software was purchased from GEODATA in Norway through its subdistributor in Iceland, SAMSYN.

Behind LUKR The Reykjavik project, called LUKR, was officially launched in 1990 after the software had been selected, the project participants identified and the hardware purchased. The objective of LUKR was to create a mapping and data management system to register and manage information from all utilities in the city and to have those data available for planning. The initial phase consisted of inserting all of the existing sheet maps from the City Engineer Surveying Department and the utilities. The maps were updated at a 1:1000 scale by obtaining aerial photographs of the city annually. The utilities converted and amended their existing maps by digitizing them and applying the latest data. Data compilation and correction proceeded slowly during the first two years, but later, the database was enlarged at an ever-increasing rate. Because the existing databases were not very good, a lot of work was required to improve them and to understand how existing information related to other information and what each bit of data pertained to. Updating multiple sections of Reykjavik can be done simultaneously with GIS, which is an easier approach than locating and manually updating each section map. Geocoded street center lines were added to the database, enabling users to locate addresses quickly. A high-speed router network was installed connecting all the participating groups so workers could log on from virtually any location. LUKR has also worked to establish connections with some external databases, such as those relating to building registers and traffic information to increase the quantity and diversity of information. By late 1995, LUKR was providing data to third parties for a fee.

Return on Investment As the sole supplier of utility maps and data, parcel boundaries, building information, land cover maps and any and all relevant information about the city layout, the six core utilities in Reykjavik are responsible for serving the many users who depend on them. These utilities have anticipated returns on their investment in owning and managing the GIS project. An early third-party customer of LUKR has been the traffic department of the city engineer's office. The common GIS database has been connected to one of the city engineer's software programs, called TRIPS. The department has used TRIPS in the past to calculate traffic volumes in the city and to create a traffic model. With the aid of the GIS, the department can monitor accidents and surface street traffic conditions and begin to detect connections between data, such as patterns in the frequency of accidents in relation to the condition of the road.

The traffic department is also using the GIS to manage its paving department's activities. Using ESRI's ArcView, it has begun to register and track current paving projects and projects that have been completed. These data are used to coordinate "call before you dig" applications to ensure that the department is not paving a street that the utility plans to dig up in a month. As another example, the Reykjavik fire and police departments are using the system to improve emergency responses. Other organizations in Iceland are following the lead of LUKR in adopting GIS. The National Energy Authority and the Icelandic Geodetic Survey both conducted pilot projects for only a few months before they decided to use GIS for map production and data analysis. Other communities around Reykjavik have started using PC-based GIS databases and are connecting to LUKR. Each municipality that participates in the project will continue to increase the overall common GIS because what each takes from it, each returns as well.

For the fire department, the LUKR project offered access to updated information provided by the utilities, such as location of water mains, fire hydrants and the street system, all of which were related to a particular address. To access the ARC/INFO information, both fire vehicles and control room are equipped with ArcVision 2 GIS software and the appropriate hardware, enabling everyone to have access to the same information.

The newest member to join the LUKR team is the police department, which uses GIS and GPS (global positioning systems) for advanced vehicle location applications. Some department vehicles are equipped with GPS receivers that use signals from earth-orbiting satellites to determine a car's position. Through these receivers and the GIS database, the vehicle's movements can be monitored in real time and shown on a map of the city street network. In this initial phase, police chiefs are concerned with observing vehicle movements and keeping track of their locations to improve officer safety. Eventually, these cars could be color coded on maps, identifying modes (off duty, active patrol or answering a call) or which units most closely match a high-priority call, such as a request for a canine officer or an officer with special training. For these cases, not only the closest vehicle, but the most qualified, would be routed to the call.

Although Iceland's GIS program developed gradually, it is now growing quickly and has the potential to spread to more agencies and departments. In the future, private firms may benefit from the GIS database developed by LUKR. TDW

Gudmundur Hafberg received the master's degree in photogrammetry, surveying and remote sensing from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden in 1984. He joined HNIT, LTD in 1985 and worked in software development and system design. He has been a GIS consultant for the city of Reykjavik and other organizations in Iceland and abroad.