Agriculture Ministry Signs $32 Million Contract for Virtual Reference Network


The Ministry of Agriculture on March 11 signed a contract valued at some $32 million for the installation of a National Virtual Reference Network.
The system, which will be provided by Spatial Innovision Limited along with its global partner Trimble Navigation Limited, will provide an advanced positioning and navigation system, which will facilitate real time surveying as well as mapping and data collection services 24-hours per day from anywhere across the island. The system will be supported by telecommunications giants Digicel and Cable and Wireless.
Funding for the project, which is expected to be completed within the next nine months, is being provided through the Government’s Capital ‘A’ budget, with additional inputs from the Land Management and Administration Project (LAMP), the National Housing Trust (NHT), and the National Water Commission (NWC).Installation of the network will be jointly supervised by the Spatial Data Management Division and the National Land Agency’s Surveys and Mapping Division.
Speaking at the contract signing ceremony at the Ministry’s headquarters at Hope Gardens, Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, said that the network would be one of the most important pillars in the national spatial data infrastructure as it would stimulate widespread use of Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies, hence facilitating greater efficiency and cost savings in a number of critical activities being carried out by the Government and the private sector.
These critical activities includes: land surveying; urban and municipal mapping; field damage assessment; environmental monitoring; the monitoring of plant pests and diseases; facilities management; and navigation and automatic vehicle location systems.Dr. Tufton pointed out that the system could be utilized to stem the tide of praedial larceny as cattle could be tagged and tracked from various locations. “If a praedial larcenist decides to take advantage of an opportunity to steal, then it is possible to use the technology to identify the carcass or live animal wherever that animal is. this is something that we intend to explore as it represents another initiative to use the technologies that are available,” he stated.
He noted further that the technology would also help in recovery efforts in times of disaster such as hurricanes. “Technology such as this will allow us to do much quicker assessment and put us in a position to plan a response strategy that is not only quick but efficient, transparent and equitable,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, President of the NWC, E.G. Hunter, explained that the introduction of the technology would significantly assist the function of the company.
He informed that the Commission is in the process of implementing a new and modern billing system and the outputs from this endeavour would be integrated into the new billing system.
“The technology can allow individuals to actually sit at their desk and see along a particular street, who has a meter and who does not, who has been paying us and those who have not. These are the kinds of information that is important for us as we strive to improve the management and efficiency of the enterprise,” he stated.

JIS Social