Ukraine's State Agency of Land Resources - the Only Agency that Hides Large-Scale Maps
The State Agency of Land Resources in Ukraine remains the only central executive authority that creates unreasonable barriers to public access to maps. According to the list of proprietary data in the State Agency of Land Resources, all topographic digital maps with scales larger than 1:50,000 are stamped "For Official Use Only." Even maps that were created using the 1942 Soviet system of coordinates have this limited access stamp. This Land Resources organization continues to classify as secret national geodetic network points and many other types of geodata.
Between 2011-2013, the Ministry of Regional Development and the Ministry of Environmental Protection removed the requirement to use the stamp "For Official Use Only" for their own maps. In 2013, the Ministry of Defense made the decision to limit access only for military data.
In November 2013, the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, Oleksandr Vilkul, gave a mandate to central authorities to ensure the availability of the general plans of cities and other cartographic materials. In agreement, the State Land Agency ordered the removal of the stamp "For Official Use Only" on documents containing geoinformation, including main planning documentation. However, this data to date remains unavailable. As is clear from a letter written by the Deputy Chairman of the State Land Agency, Eugene Byerdnikova, the Agency is not in a hurry to comply with the order from the Vice Prime Minister because "it is impossible to carry out this process in the short term."
Talking about the risks of corruption using geospatial information, Volodymyr Shcherbachenko says,
"Government agencies have access to a wide range of geospatial data and this creates conditions for corruption across a number of industries.In urban development, in forestry and water resource planning, land resources, and in the field of mining, significant parts of this public information have been gathered at the expense of taxpayers. It is stored in the form of maps.However, these data are only available to a limited number of people. This results in the illegal manipulation of information.Hidden from the public, the data in these general plans of cities are used to take bribes for illegally changing the purpose of the land."
Shcherbachenko, Head of the Eastern-Ukrainian Center for Civic Initiatives, continues…
"Although the State Agency of Land Resources has known for more than 2 years about the process for removing stamps from documents containing geospatial data, they have been slow to implement this process. If in the near future this public body does not declassify the geospatial data of their agency and make it available, we will turn to the Cabinet of Ministers with a request to speed up the work of the State Land Agency."
The activities of the Eastern-Ukrainian Center for Civic Initiatives are aimed at ensuring the availability of comprehensive city plans for citizens. This work is part of the project, "Final Steps for Access to General Plans of the City for Citizens of Ukraine and Advocacy Support for the Declassification of Comprehensive City Plans and the Elimination of Corruption in Urban Planning." The work is supported by the International Renaissance Foundation's Rule of Law Program and is also supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.
Eastern Center for Civic Initiatives
+38 0642 491374