COMMUNITY INSIGHTS

Opinion Piece: Mapping and geospatial technology to checkmate development in the Nigerian construction industry today

Babatunde Odunlami

Babatunde Odunlami, a Geomatics Engineer at China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation Nigeria Limited recognises that the full potential of mapping and geospatial technology is yet to be harnessed in the Nigerian construction industry, but points out that its adoption and implementation is growing at a steady rate.

According to the Geospatial Industry Outlook and Readiness Index for year 2018, Nigeria ranked 39th of the 50 countries that were assessed for their geospatial readiness to the global audience from the industry, government, academia, “development sector” and other stakeholders at large.

He says: “Though the use of modern mapping and geospatial technology such as GIS and remote sensing is in its early stages in Nigeria, the recent boom in real estate and construction has called for an in-depth employment of these practices.”

There is a continuous educational awareness about the advantages of geospatial data in the construction industry to enlighten and inform more professionals in Nigeria. He directs us to a recent bill sent to the legislative arm of the Government for the amendment of laws guiding the geo-information professional practice of Surveyors council of Nigeria (SURCON). Geo-information is being gradually integrated into every segment of the economy, creating more awareness.

Despite ongoing awareness programmes, Nigeria still limits the use of mapping and geospatial technology because of:

1. The lack of information on the advantage of cost effective technology; users who don’t understand the significant applications make it harder to use and adopt geospatial technology in Nigeria.

2. Lack of operational national geospatial data has created an obstruction in the synergy between private sectors and agencies to produce geospatial data that covers our country as evident in work/research redundancy by individuals and/ institutions and therefore inhibiting the growth of the geospatial industry.

3. Mapping and geospatial technology is expensive to obtain. In addition, though this technology requires specialized skills, knowledge and understanding, Nigeria has little to no funding for research and development to cater for this. As a result, technology is left uncultured, and skills are poorly transferred.

He asserts that mapping and geospatial technology are means of acquiring, manipulating and deriving information from spatial data for key decision-making. It technically directs operations in the construction industry as every aspect of construction relies directly or indirectly upon geospatial data obtained through mapping and geospatial technology starting from design-building/execution-operation.

Looking at the overall benefits, he notes that the effective application of mapping and geospatial technology can provide a basis for proper planning and decision-making to reduce cost and mitigate construction waste, therefore promoting sustainable development in the industry.