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The Catholic Geographic System is a platform that can help multiple stakeholders communicate and thoughtfully plan how their land can promote environmental and social wellbeing while increasing fiscal sustainability. Our work has already generated massive amounts of location data about the global Catholic network. We are developing an enterprise geographic information system (GIS) that will enable partnering organizations to leverage our data and communicate, plan, and exchange their own data with Catholic entities to greatly enhance each other’s critical mission-driven work around the world.
A central platform for data can increase interoperability among the global Catholic community by providing a hub of Catholic data, knowledge management tools, and data infrastructure that enables efficient and secure access, retrieval and dissemination of information, while providing a platform marketplace for Catholic organizations to share data and help finance their missions. The potential costs savings of a centralized hub of information for Catholic organizations in different sectors, such as health care, education, and relief / aid, are in the magnitude of billions of dollars each year.
The Catholic Geographic System works synergistically with GoodLands' other programs to bring values and scientific information together in the form of actionable data narratives.
By providing a hub for knowledge management, communities are no longer required to invest in their own data infrastructure. Providing this hub will also reduce costly maintenance and collection redundancy across Catholic organizations. This helps Catholic communities around the world to implement programs more efficiently and to understand their relationship to local conditions. It also makes it possible to respond more effectively to the stewardship calling of Laudato Si’ through a process that is rapid, sustainable, measurable, and globally scalable.
The Catholic Geographic System is a hub of geographic information. The image above illustrates a basic framework for data sharing among various stakeholders with multiple levels of security, collaboration, and use.
Phase 2: Portal
Phase 3: Hub
Phase 4: Enterprise
During Phase 1 we carefully curated what is likely the largest geodatabase of Catholic information in the world. Our maps have been displayed in Casina Pio IV at the Vatican several times and our mapping efforts have received expressions of interest from various groups in the Roman Curia, from Catholic NGOs, and from multi-national organizations around the world..We have laid the technical foundation and established the social connections needed to move our efforts forward. With sufficient financial support, we can build the front-end of our technology to meet existing demand for these services and connect even more platform partners to each other to accomplish measurable progress in improving the state of the planet and prosperity around the world.
We have laid the foundation for the Catholic Geography System with a world-class team of collaborators that includes systems architects and engineers who have contributed to the development of major spatial data infrastructures (SDI), including the City of Los Angeles’ GeoHub, the European Union’s INSPIRE SDI, and the GeoSUR SDI for the Latin American Development Bank. During our Phase 1 development we established a partnership with Esri, the global leader in geospatial technology, to launch the Catholic Geographic System. As part of this effort, we discussed our work with leadership in the Holy See and received approval to map ecclesiastical jurisdictions globally. To date, we have developed the first comprehensive global maps of Catholic Latin-rite ecclesiastical jurisdictions in history.
Molly worked at Esri's Headquarters in Redlands, CA on a sponsored residency to lay the foundation for the Catholic Geographic System. For four months she worked closely with various teams to plan the phased roll out of the Catholic Geographic System.
A late night in the APL, 2016
This photo is from a December meeting of the Vatican Arts and Technology Council, where GoodLands recreated a modern galleria delle carte geografiche in Casino Pio IV, the building that houses the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. GoodLands presented its comprehensive global maps of ecclesiastical jurisdictions in the Vatican on three occasions in the Fall of 2016. These maps represent the first time the Catholic Church has been globally mapped in history.
Modern Hall of Maps
Before beginning its mapping work, GoodLands met with leaders in the Roman Curia in the Vatican and asked for permission to map the Church globally and discussed privacy needs.
Our conversations with Catholic leadership continue to cover important topics, such as SDI governance and the role of data , technology, and religion in the digital age.
Third Loggia, Apostolic Palace
For the Catholic Geographic System to reach its full benefit, we must socialize the movement of geography and faith and inspire people and organizations to explore how combining mission and geography can do for them. To this end, we partnered with Maps.com to release our first series of educational map products.
We are the first curators of digital ecclesiastical maps in the world. Consequently, we are dominating a large, unexplored market for these types of map products. Revenue from the sale of these maps will support some of our future efforts.
All of our maps and data are currently cloud-based and selectively accessible to a small group of individuals. We are developing partnerships with major Infrastructure service companies to efficiently support the hardware systems necessary for the Catholic Geographic System.
During one of her trips to Rome, Molly had the opportunity to meet His Holiness, Pope Francis and show her maps to his Excellency, Msgr. Sordono, (Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences) and the renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs from Columbia University.
Our innovative use of geodata to drive land-use decisions inspires change by integrating these data with marketing practices modeled on those of large, successful companies. We use our data to inform and measure project impacts in near real-time and to improve programs. Our approach has been described and discussed in presentations we were invited to give at international conferences and institutions including but not limited to: ICT4D, Esri UC (2017), REIL Network, Yale University, the Conway School, Vatican Youth Symposium, Vatican Arts and Technology Council.
A key component of our Phase 0 and Phase 1 Development was to develop partnerships with the right groups.
Catholic Hierarchy's generous contribution of data provides much of the statistical and name information behind our foundational geodatasets. CH has been working hard for over 20 years curating data about the Catholic Church.
The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) is an established Catholic research center that explores global trends in the Church. They generously allowed us to work with their U.S. data to test models.
Our next phase of development is to seek additional data partners as well as organizations that are interested in testing our beta portal and in contributing insights and cannon law expertise to our governance working group.
Virtually no geodata about the Church existed when we began our effort.
Producing these maps required a large, dedicated team of staff and the careful research of thousands of resources.
These and other property-scale maps and religious order maps we have developed over the past year comprise the foundational datasets for the Catholic Geographic System.
Our ecclesiastical jurisdiction maps are accurate up to at 1:3,000,000 scale -- we are working to make this higher resolution in our next iteration.
Before beginning to map, we needed to develop a data dictionary and ontologies. In doing so, we realized that our maps reveal the social structures of the Catholic Church as well as its geography. This adds an additional dimension to the information contained in these maps.
How it Works
At the heart of the Catholic Geographic System is cloud-based geographic information systems technology that provides organizations with secure systems of records for storing their location information that they can update and share as they see fit.
The platform works for communities by creating systems of engagement that provide platform users with context for intra-organization applications and for inter-organization uses in a way that promotes collaborations and smarter planning decisions. The Catholic Geographic System allows organizations to focus less on analysis and more on their mission-oriented goals, and it allows GoodLands to multiply the positive impact of its land-based data. Combined with community-driven design, the land-based data drives our land-use planning efforts.
When GoodLands completes environmental planning work, it stands up a local location platform as part of our enterprise geographic information system (eGIS), so that communities can have the tools they need to continue ecological planning and information updates after we complete our initial project.
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