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The Universal Address System Is Adopted in Somaliland

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October 9, 2003 - NAC Geographic Products Inc. of Canada and Cadastral Surveys of Somaliland proudly announce the initial success in adopting and implementing the Universal Address System in Somaliland. It represents the beginning of a new era of using digital universal addresses in the world and a revolution in all geographic technologies, applications, products and services.

The Universal Address System and the Natural Area Coding System are a revolutionary technology developed by NAC Geographic Products Inc. to unify addresses, postal codes, area codes, geographic coordinates and map grids in the world. The Natural Area Coding System generates standardized and highly efficient codes called Natural Area Codes (NAC) for all locations and areas in the world that can be used as geographic coordinates, Universal Addresses, Global Postal Codes, Universal Area Codes and the coordinates of Universal Map Grids in the world. A two-character NAC represents an area about 1000x700 km (like a province) anywhere in the world; a four-character NAC represents an area about 33x23 km (like a city); a six-character NAC represents an area about one square kilometer (like a street block); an eight-character NAC represents an area about 35x25 meters (like a building or house), and a ten-character NAC can specify any one square meter area in the world. An Eight or ten character NAC is called a Universal Address that can uniquely specify any building, house, door, gate, fire hydrant, tree, parking meter, electric wire pole, street light, bus stop, sewage exit, camping site, or any other fixed object in the world.

Because Universal Addresses are very short, people can easily remember and communicate Universal Addresses for their daily activities. Universal Addresses can perfectly fit the small spaces of business cards, GPS watches, GPS cellphones, parking tickets, yellow page listings, advertisements, etc. A Universal Address can be directly pinpointed on all maps with Universal Map Grids and navigated with GPS receivers. If all street signs are marked with local Universal Addresses, people can immediately figure out the distance and direction from the current street sign to any destination through the comparison of the Universal Addresses of the street sign and the destination. Universal Addresses can be used as Global Postal Codes to sort all domestic and international mail automatically and optimize its delivery routes. When Universal Addresses are used to specify locations and areas on location based services can
  • reduce 80% of input keys,
  • avoid difficulties in inputting addresses with foreign characters,
  • eliminate errors from address databases,
  • extend services to all locations no matter whether there are addresses or not.
These advantages have been demonstrated by the world most efficient and comprehensive location based services: Mobile Location Based Services Network (http://mlbs.net/) for wireless devices, and TravelGIS Driving Directions Service (http://www.travelgis.com/directions/) for desktop and notebook computers.

Most importantly, the Natural Area Coding System can make all the geographic information (all addresses in the world as shown on business cards, mail, advertisements, yellow pages, etc, all kinds of maps in different scales and projections, all GPS watches, GPS cellphones, handheld GPS receivers, etc, all wired and wireless driving directions services, map services, location based searching service, etc, all postal, courier, delivery and taxi services, all emergency services, all kinds of geographic information systems such as management systems of public works, natural resources, agriculture, environment protection, etc, and all other location related technologies, products and services) directly related and highly efficient. It will remove all the gaps between all these technologies, products and services as currently shown everywhere in the world. "This (the Universal Address System) is an elegant solution that seems to supply something that is becoming necessary as the world becomes more globalized." - Matt Ball, editor of GeoWorld magazine. For more information about the Universal Address System and the Natural Area Coding System, please check http://www.nacgeo.com/nacsite/.

Tasks where the Universal Address System is being successfully practiced include a unique method of bringing farmers, warring over privately-owned territorial rights, to peaceful coexistence. That country is in the Horn of Africa, known as Somaliland (south of the Gulf of Aden).

"UNDP (United Nations Development Program) is supporting a land survey (cadastral) that seeks to meet the need for land and collateral, and employs a process that is conflict resolving in character. The process is transparent and participatory and based on the resolution of existing and potential claim disputes. It has traditional, local level, consensus building and mediation techniques to ensure a fair process of land tenure and titling, involving demarcation, on maps and on the ground, of the boundaries of private farms.” - United Nations Secretary-General's Report to the Security Council on the situation in Somalia, June 27, 2002 (No. 5/2002/709).

Cadastral Surveys, an officially registered Non Government Organization in Somaliland and the United Kingdom, is establishing farm boundaries which are mutually agreed by neighboring farmers. Universal Addresses at each of the farms' polygon turning points and polygon center in the District of Gabiley are included on Farmers’ ID cards thanks to the short strings of Universal Addresses. The Universal Addresses are also marked on the ground by embedded concrete blocks, and repeated in databases.

Farmers now have legal title deeds from Somaliland's Ministry of Agriculture. Outbreaks of violence over territorial rights have ceased in surveyed areas. 2,600 farms, averaging 12 acres each, have been surveyed and mapped. Each farm owner is in possession of a technical laminated ID card.

Farmers in that country are now enjoying peace because of security of tenure where they had none before, even in colonial times. This was because their rain-fed farms, between 8 and 50 acres each, growing maize and sorghum, had no boundaries for generations and therefore no title deeds.

"When I was growing up, there were many land problems. No one knew the boundaries before these surveys. It was dangerous - some people were killed.I plan to pass my farm on to my children's children," said Mohamed Hassan Obsiye, a 66-year-old sorghum farmer. Somaliland now wisely gives farmers land ownership in perpetuity (freehold) after surveying, when maps and databases have been completed to the satisfaction of the Ministry of Agriculture.

"This project involves farmers, their neighbors, as well as local and municipal authorities, all of whom agree on this process. You can see that what the United Nations Development Program is doing here is helping to build peace, one farm at a time" said Maxwell Gaylard, UNDP Resident Representative for Somalia. "When we were in need, farmers coming back from refugee camps, UNDP helped. By securing their property and farming again, farmers can improve their livelihoods." - Hassan Yusuf Roble, Mayor of Gabiley

Figure 1. Natural Area Codes are used as farm identifier and control points

Cadastral Surveys also maps, with databases and ID cards, urban, privately-owned properties in Somaliland. Streets are given NAC coding; likewise buildings with eight alphanumeric characters representing universal postal addresses. House-owners in Somaliland have not before had postal addresses. These can be superimposed electronically with NAC coding on satellite images of urban properties. The codes, identifying any object, large or small, on the ground, are there forever. They cannot be changed.

Figure 2. Universal Addresses are used as addresses and property identifiers

The automation in generating Universal Addresses has saved huge amounts of work, time and money normally required in manually assigning addresses, postal codes and property identifiers in this kind of projects. Universal Addresses used as property identifiers have given the government the most efficient and low-cost approach to establish computerized management systems for recording major financial processes such as revenue collections and records of all land transfers. These greatly accelerate the property registration process and avoided many conflicts arising from the land disputes.

The automatically generated digital addresses are short, accurate, universal and of multiple uses. They are always well aligned and systematic no matter when and where they are generated, and will never be used up no matter how dense the population will be, which guarantees long term consistency and efficiency in assigning addresses, unlike the postal codes in other countries that have faced serious shortages and chaos due to continuous redevelopment, and become more and more expensive and difficult to maintain. "This (the Universal Address System) is very impressive," said Henrik Jespersen, Counselor of Royal Danish Embassy at Nairobi, Republic of Kenya.

The timely implementation of the Universal Address System has also made Somaliland the world’s first country with universal digital addresses. People in Somaliland will soon enjoy the great benefits brought by the Universal Address System. They will be able to directly pinpoint all addresses on maps without the need to waste time in looking up street indexes. They will be able to use street signs to figure out the distance and direction to any destination. They will be able to directly navigate to any locations with GPS watches, GPS cellphones or other GPS receivers. They will be able to use wireless or wired location based services more efficiently and reliably than in any other country in the world. They will get the fastest and most reliable emergency services. The will have their mail sorted automatically from world level to the final mailboxes. They will be able to use Universal Addresses to identify, manage and navigate to all buildings, houses, gates, doors, fire hydrants, sewage exits, electric wire poles, street lights, trees, parking meters, bus stops, camping sites, fishing spots, rescue points, etc. They will be able to use the most efficient universal area codes - Natural Area Codes to retrieve maps and manage lands, natural resources, environment, transportation, etc in all geographic information systems. They will be able to use Universal Addresses to record accurate locations of accidents, crimes, discoveries and events to eliminate legal disputes arising from ambiguous location descriptions. Tourists will never get lost in Somaliland. Somaliland will become the world most advanced country in location technologies, thanks to the implementation of the Natural Area Coding System that makes all the geographic information connected, exchangeable and highly efficient.

"This pioneer project has first rooted and deployed the Universal Address System in the real world," said Dr. Xinhang Shen, President of NAC Geographic Products Inc., " and we are very grateful to Mr. Jim Karygiannis, Member of Parliament of Canada, for his initiation of this historical project."

About NAC Geographic Products Inc
Founded in 1995, NAC Geographic Products Inc. (http://www.nacgeo.com/) is a world leading developer in GIS, GPS, Internet and wireless technologies, based in Toronto, Canada. The company provides a variety of innovative spatial solutions, software products and location based services.

About Cadastral Surveys
Cadastral Surveys (http://www.undp.org/dpa/choices/) is a Non-Government Organization registered in Somaliland (South of the Gulf of Aden) and the United Kingdom in 1999 for the purpose of bringing to an end, through cadastral surveying, violent land disputes between Somali refugees who had returned to Somaliland from Ethiopian refugee camps to restore their former farming 'rights' that had no boundaries. Later, Cadastral Surveys surveyed and mapped the Somaliland towns of Gabiley, Lughaya and Tog Wajaale. Cadastral Surveys has been supported by UNOPS, The Danish Refugee Council, and UNDP.

Media Contact
Lixin Zhou
PR Manager
NAC Geographic Products Inc.
1608-45 Huntingdale Blvd.
Toronto, ON M1W 2N8

Phone: 1 416 496 6110
Email: lzhou@nacgeo.com
Web: www.nacgeo.com
John Drysdale
Director, Cadastral Surveys
Gabiley, Somaliland

C/O Wake Smith
68, Clarkehouse Road
Sheffield S10 2LJ

Phone: 00 252 2 426 563 or 00 252 2 623 241
Email: john_drysdale@yahoo.com

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