Release date 02/03/2010
Contributor Conrad Ellechel


PALARIS: A National Geographic Information System


The Office of the Palau Automated Land and Resource Information System (PALARIS) has the responsibility to develop the National Geographic Information System (GIS), a centralized land and resource system to inventory and support the management of human, economic and natural resources of the Republic of Palau. The National GIS will be a unified and integrated network system that will be used in support of decision making and enhance the formulation of policies for the development of Republic of Palau. The Office of PALARIS has been mandated to provide services to government agencies and affiliates relating to the National GIS. The Office is responsible for the management of the National GIS and coordinate with government agencies and affiliates with respect to geographic information systems. The system will provide coordination and a common view of data in a geographic context between programs.


The Palau 2020: National Master Development Plan, recognized that the Bureau of Lands and Surveys has the responsibility and the technology to form the basis of the National GIS or the Palau Automated Land and Resource Information System (PALARIS). As provided for in the Presidential Executive Order No. 163, the Palau Automated Land and Resource Information System was established under the Bureau of Lands and Surveys. President Remengesau acknowledged and emphasized the development and use of the GIS for management and decision-making through the adoption of Executive Order No. 203, creating the Office of the Palau Automated Land and Resource Information System and elevating the program to the national level under the Ministry of Resources and Development. The shift to a national level program has widened the focus of the National GIS and will allow for further development of the system.

Given the task of the development of the National GIS, the U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Insular Affairs, has provided initial support in the form of a technical assistance grant. The objective of the grant was to begin the planning for and initial development of the system. The majority of the DOI funding was used to hire personnel with the necessary expertise and procurement of equipment and software. Currently, the office has seven (7) staff assigned to the project. Of these, three are professional staff and four are local counterparts in training.


A critical element for the successful development of the system will be the allocation of the necessary resources to support the updating of the base layers and other layers and tabular data conversion. As planned, the GIS system will contain digital information about virtually all resources of the Republic. Some of the layers or geo-databases to be updated and developed for the National GIS include, but are not inclusive to, land ownership, roads, manmade structures, rivers, reefs, marine and terrestrial habitats, vegetation, soil, geology, infrastructure, and

demography. The updating or development of these geographic layers can be accomplished through the acquisition of high-resolution imagery, satellite and aerial platforms, and processing the imagery based on established standards. Existing digital and paper format information, both geographic and tabular data, must be converted into GIS compatible formats or relational databases for integration into the system. The combination of remotely sensing, field surveying, and digital data conversion will meet this necessary end to support the management of economic, natural and human resources in the Republic.

The office has actively pursued the collection of imagery and remotely sensed products that can be used to generate baseline geographic information this quarter. We have continued communications with various U.S. federal government agencies and other foreign assistance agencies regarding the acquisition of various types of remotely sensed imagery products, both aerial and satellite. The remotely sensed imagery products will assist with the establishment of a current baseline of resources in a geographic context.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), Special Projects Office delivered the processed and orthorectified 2000 IKONOS satellite imagery, 1 meter panchromatic and 4 meter, 4 band multi-spectral, in early FY2004. The NOAA contractor orthorectified or precisely position the imagery based on ground control points (GCPs) collected through a technology transfer partnership project in March 2003. Following the completion of the IKONOS imagery rectification project, the USDA Forestry Service has initiated a contract with Space Imaging for imagery processing and mapping with respect use of the imagery as a basis for vegetation identification at the association level for the Forestry Inventory and Assessment (FIA). In addition, the Republic of Palau has entered into a multi-agency partnership with various U.S. federal government agencies for the collection high-resolution imagery over terrestrial environment from the QuickBird satellite. The essential component necessary for further development of the above information will be the identification of the necessary sources through multi-agency partnerships and agreements to acquire and/or retain the services of a qualified imagery processing professional or firm for layer development and updating.

As a member of the National Environmental Protection Council (NEPC), the Office of PALARIS was designated as one of the key stakeholders with respect to the United States Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) initiative. As a member of the delegation to the 10th USCRTF meeting held in the Northern Mariana Islands, specifically Guam and Saipan, the Office of PALARIS was able to establish a presence in the policy arena and discuss with various federal stakeholders the Republics progress relating to GIS and coral reefs, and also imagery, remote sensing, and mapping needs. In addition, the Program Manager delivered a presentation during the public comment session on the Republic of Palau’s National GIS, detailing programs status and future development. The presentation was submitted to the Task Force and later displayed on their website for global presentation.

Through discussions during the 2001 Joint Committee Meeting held in Palau, the National GIS received technical assistance from the U.S. Department of State to conduct the “GIS Mapping for Disaster Preparedness” assessment. During the 3rd Quarter of FY2003, the U.S. Department of State detailed a team of six (6) technical experts in GIS from various disciplines. They conducted an assessment of the Republic’s readiness to utilize GIS for disaster preparedness and mitigation. The team provided a wealth of technical assistance and expertise from their respective fields. Early in FY2004, the office received a detailed report of assessment teams findings, relating to data collection and storage, critical infrastructure identification and mapping, cadastral layer integration, data delivery and automation, and metadata. The assessment team was impressed with

the overall progress of the National GIS program, specifically the data presentation, visibility, and training initiatives.

Following the policy directives set by the Management Action Plan (MAP), the Office of PALARIS must develop the application of GIS to other governmental agencies in support of facilities and equipment maintenance programs. In an effort to obtain a baseline on infrastructure, we are working with the Bureau of Public Works, Palau Public Utility Corporation, and Palau National Communications Corporation to develop strategies and assist them with the collection of their assets.

The Office of PALARIS has continued to assist the Division of the Utilities, Water Branch of the Bureau of Public Works (BPW) with respect to the mapping of the Koror-Airai Water System and the development of an equipment maintenance program. The National GIS staffs continue to work with the BPW to develop a geodatabase to inventory the necessary system components and attributes for the facilities management project. The development of the system will provide the information necessary for facilities management and maintenance; optimal decision-making; provide a model for other facilities projects; and further human resources development for the National GIS. Over the past year, the National GIS has dedicated up to four (4) staff members on full-time basis to assist the Bureau with the development of the water system information, including the GPS collection and attributing of appurtenances, development of a management planning database system, and the training of staff. The facilities management project has entered into quality control phase and requires a thorough review of the water system information, both the spatial data collected using GPS and specific attribute data, by the BPW Water Branch management.

During the first quarter of FY2004, the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) conducted an assessment and pre-engineering study of Palau’s wastewater collection system. The project was realized with the application of an Operations Maintenance Improvement Program (OMIP) support grant. The office provided existing digital data, technical assistance, and guidance to ensure the assessment information will be compatible and utilized in the GIS system. We will continue to provide assistance to the consultant in an effort to develop the wastewater collection system layer in the National GIS.

The MAP has recommended the activation of the National Planning Committee to coordinate the implementation of the Palau 2020: National Master Development Plan. The National GIS will serve as the system to support planning, conservation, and management of human and natural resources. The Office of PALARIS has provided all available geographic information to the Association of Governor’s for the development of master plans for all of the states. We have placed the support of the master planning effort as one of the top priorities due to the necessity for appropriate land use planning and zoning in Palau. Upon receipt of this critical information, we are prepared to assist the states with this critical and necessary effort.

The awarding of the contract to build the Compact Road on Babeldaob has increased the awareness of the need for the National GIS. The system will provide data on environmental changes so that the health of ecosystems can be monitored and to provide more immediate information to management in its efforts to avoid harming or damaging the environment. Recent climate change and global warming events have the potential to adversely affect our environment; the environmental agencies need access to the information and technology in order to perform the mandated environmental quality control and assessments.

A critical component of the National GIS will be the development of natural resource layers to support the management of our limited resources. We are communicating with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service with respect to the potential revision of the soil survey. We are also pursuing the development of the vegetation layer as a cooperative effort between the Division of Agriculture and Mineral Resources and USDA Forestry Service. The soil and vegetation layers will assist resource managers and other individuals in the assessment and best management of our terrestrial resources.

We are currently coordinating with various agencies in Palau and U.S. to meet the increasing demand for geographic information and critical baseline information on our resources. We are in the process of migrating the existing digital cadastral information to form the basis of the land ownership layer. To accompany this geographic layer, we have developed the Land Title Records database as a cooperative effort between the Division of Land Resources Information, Land Court, Clerk of Courts, and the Chamber of Commerce. The database contains Japanese land records or Tochi Daicho, Certificates of Title, Determination of Ownership, deeds, leases, mortgages, court documents and other land records.

The office has set an aggressive schedule to develop the National GIS and realize the capabilities of GIS for the Republic. The development of professional level proficiency in GIS, GPS, remote sensing, relational database development and management, and IT management of local counterparts has continued. In FY2004, Mr. Galbraith Gabriel, GIS Technician, received training in GIS and remote sensing from the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS) under the India Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC). In FY2003, three local counterparts received training in their respective professional areas. Ms. Darlynne Takawo, Assistant GIS Analyst, participated in the MIE Prefectural Overseas Technical Trainees (MOTT) Aid Scheme, where she received training in GIS and road facility management at the MIE Prefecture Construction Technology Center. Mr. Michael Aulerio, GIS Technician, attended the IIRS training program mentioned above. Mr. Johnson Nagata, Information Systems Technician, received training in the development and implementation of computer software applications from the ITEC Programme. Since their return, they have been assigned projects to draw on and enhance their knowledge in their focal areas. The capabilities and interest of the counterparts to learn more about the technical aspects of geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, and information technologies (IT) are essential to the human resources development for the office and the overall development of the National GIS.

In coordination with the Palau Community College, we have developed a GIS training curriculum to provide a technology transfer mechanism to national and state government agencies and other related agencies. The training program has a nation-wide focus encompassing individuals from virtually all agencies in Palau. Overall the training program will significantly enhance the capabilities of various agencies to participate in the development of the National GIS, and additionally a noteworthy contribution to human resources development pertaining to computer competency.

The above information is a summary of the work in-progress for the development of the nation-wide GIS. A critical issue to be resolved this fiscal year is to organize and plan for the long-range funding and staffing of the office. Additional funding proposals have been initiated with the DOI and other external agencies to support the operation and further development of the system. We

must establish a coordinated development plan for design and development of a National GIS system. Most importantly, we must recruit college educated local counterparts that can be trained as GIS professionals to ensure the future of the National GIS.

Since the National GIS was established in 1998, the need for more rapid implementation has become more pronounced. PALARIS must make the information accessible immediately. The system will form a basis to plan for the future development of the Republic through the identification and utilization of our resources in the most appropriate manner.


For Further Information, Please Contact:

Office of the Palau Automated Land and Resource Information System (PALARIS)

Ministry of Resources and Development

P.O. Box 100

Koror, Republic of Palau 96940

Phone: (680) 488-6654/6838

Fax: (680) 488-6460