Timothy Trainor, Consultant, Former Co-Chair for the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management and Former Chief Geospatial Scientist, US Census Bureau

The Importance of Geospatial Location Information for the Success of the UN Sustainable Development Goals


Location provides meaning for what we do.  The absence of location oftentimes relegates statistical data to the heap of hollow numbers.  The UN Statistics Division and the UN-GGIM have collaboratively recognized the importance of linking geospatial information to statistics.  The results are very powerful for a broad array of uses.  Success depends on cooperation as well as integrating dissimilar data types and frameworks.  Benefits for governments include ensuring economic growth, maintaining national security, assuring workable social development and environmental sustainability and national prosperity.

Data, as the basis for evidence-based decision-making, is critical to the success of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Emphasis on countries to be able to measure and monitor progress with good policy, science, technology and especially data has ushered in a new era for sustainable development that has broad implications and is transformative. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 169 targets, and 232 global indicators require new and innovative thinking on the three pillars of development – social, economic, and environmental. This specifically includes new data sources, acquisition and integration approaches, and the need for “high quality, timely, reliable and disaggregated data, including Earth observations and geospatial information” to address development challenges, and to “leave no one behind.”


Tim Trainor is the former Chief Geospatial Scientist for the U.S. Census Bureau. He performs research and developmental activities in the broad area of geospatial science that includes exploring methodological, technical and substantive issues relating to the creation, collection and integration of geospatial information. Tim is recognised nationally and internationally for contributions to the fields of geospatial science, geography and cartography and the integration of statistical and geospatial information.  Tim served as the Co-Chair for the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management and as the Head of U.S Delegation. He is the Senior Agency Official for Geospatial Information for the U.S. Department of Commerce and an executive member of the U.S. Federal Geographic Data Committee. Tim served as Vice President of the International Cartographic Association (2007-2015). He is a member of the American Association of Geographers, Cartography and Geographic Information Society, National States Geographic Information Council, and the Urban Regional Information Systems Association.