In 2014, Duhok Government formed a technical committee including 8 technicians who worked to digitise all of the old cadastral maps of the governorate. They worked on the data of Statistics, Agriculture, Municipalities, Duhok Municipality, Urban Planning, governmental building, and Real Estate directorates. For data sharing or management, there was no rule or regulation in this regard. For this reason, there was the need to develop a law for mapping, data collection and sharing on different levels of the Duhok Governorate. On the other hand, the existing GIS data at directorates are being managed using various programs; this needs to be standardised and unified, at least on the governmental level.
To do so, it was essential to establish a GIS Centre in Duhok Governorate Headquarters as the decision-making position will have a very good impact on processing the data and activating this system. Besides legalising the sharing of data through developing a specific policy and applying standardisation of the GIS system in all directorates. Similarly, it would support the available GIS data in the official directorates of Duhok to be centralised and operationalised.
VNG International, under the MASAR Program, held its first meeting with Duhok Vice Governors and Directors of 11 directorates in June 2020. Several other sessions followed this to discuss the legal structures, the existing regulations regarding the GIS system on the level of Government capacities, and existing GIS projects in parallel with reviewing the available spatial/ urban planning, a feasibility study to look into the needs and conditions needed to set up a GIS platform. Then, a memorandum of understanding was signed with the Duhok governorate to establish a GIS Centre to connect the GIS units in the directorates of the local government. Afterwards, GIS Centre was constructed by the Government at the governorate headquarters building, and VNG International supported it by providing all the necessary software and hardware and supplying furniture for the Centre.
A training on essentials was provided for the staff of the centre followed by a 3-level training course of basic, intermediate, and advanced levels for 15 relevant directorates. A tripartite memorandum of understanding was developed and signed among VNG international, Duhok Governorate and the Department of Information Technology to connect the GIS Centre with the Department of Information Technology of the Council of Ministers of the Kurdistan Region Government. Additionally, to work on policies of sharing and securing data between the two parties to have a sustainable, functional Centre of data in the Duhok Governorate. In a ceremony in May 2022, the Centre was officially opened and handed over to the Duhok government.
Implementing the project, which is the first one in Kurdistan Region and Iraq, was in parallel with the Kurdistan Regional Government’s efforts in taking steps toward an electronic government to provide information quickly and securely among ministries and government directorates. This is in addition to facilitating the work of citizens at governmental institutions.