In October 2017, the President of Ghana launched the National Digital Property Addressing System (NDPAS), also known as the Ghana Post GPS, with the goal of assigning a unique digital address to each location in Ghana. It is hoped that the Ghana Post GPS will be used for spatial database information for good governance and socioeconomic development on a national scale.
My interest focuses on the application of the “Ghana Post GPS as a geographical database information for good governance and socioeconomic development.” There are two basic components in any geographical database: SPATIAL DATA, which is the Lat-Long coordinate that identifies a property, and ATTRIBUTE DATA, which contains the property’s qualities. Because spatial data is a representation of primarily immovable properties, it is collected once and rarely changes. The attribute information is the only thing that changes. After the location is acquired, the attribute information is the most significant data; the database’s utility and potency are dependent on how complete the attribute information is. For example, a warehouse could become a church tomorrow, and while evaluating such data, the outcomes will be dependent on how current the data is; the data one possesses will influence results, judgments or policies. As such, it’s critical to use the most up-to-date data if you want to get anything out of it.
The Ghana Post GPS was created with the sole purpose of collecting spatial data with base attributes such as region and district information. So the only information one should discover in the Ghana post GPS database is Lat-Long, regions, and district data, which leaves me wondering how the government will use such information for good governance or socioeconomic development.
Following the installation of the Ghana Post GPS, the government implemented a policy stating that certain services could not be provided without the provision of a digital address. This regulation was enforced by a number of entities, including banks, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Registrar General Department etc.. It’s worth noting that such rules shifted the focus away from mapping properties to toward mapping people (a subject for another day), but the attribute data was now being collected in various agencies’ databases. Although these agencies associate the digital address with the attribute data, they are only interested in a portion of the country. Because the Ghana Post GPS data has inadequate attribute information, the government’s key database for governance and socioeconomic development is ineffective in this regard.
Even if we accept the practice of different agencies collating the data, after about 4 years of various digital address information collation, I can confidently state that the data collected in the last three and a half years is outdated, if not all of the data. In Ghana, where a higher proportion of the population rents houses and business structures are owned by profit-driven individuals who are not regulated by any effective agency, many people relocate and resettle to new locations that differ from the Digital address they used to open their bank account, register their business, or complete any transaction that required it. Those people can no longer be found at that address and are difficult to track down. Using that data for national or local governance and socioeconomic development would be pointless.
The act of mapping individuals to properties rather than properties to individuals should be reconsidered, as should the entire digital addressing system.
Geospatial Solutions Specialist