As a vibrant, expanding economy, Ireland has many and evolving demands on geology. It is critical that these needs are fully met in a timely and cost-effective way. It is the role of GSI to foresee and determine those needs and ensure that the national capability exists to meet them. The strategic direction of geological surveys across Europe has seen a dramatic and consistent change over the past decade. A major shift has taken place from serving a single customer segment, the natural resources sector, to providing services to a range of sectors of national life concerned with environmental protection, infrastructure development, heritage and outreach.
A recent survey of European geological surveys indicates a sharply increased focus on information delivery (preferably in digital format and web-enabled), natural hazards and international activities, as well as increases in groundwater, seabed, geotechnical, aggregates, geophysical and geochemical work. These same trends have been evident in the recent activities of GSI and will be familiar to our customers and stakeholders alike. GSI continues to function because of the importance of providing nation-wide and impartial services to support decision and policy-making at European, national and local level. This is reflected in the continued demand for GSI services and the high level of satisfaction of customers with its services.
“GSI services...reduce the risks....of poor decision making”
In 2005 GSI commissioned MORI to carry out a marketing survey of its customers and stakeholders. The aim of the survey, which used an online methodology, was to gauge satisfaction with GSI products and services, and to identify areas for improvement. GSI’s customers and stakeholders expressed a high level of satisfaction. 90% were satisfied with the overall GSI service, 80% considering it had improved over the previous four years. Almost 80% were satisfied with the data and mapping products supplied by GSI, while 95% were happy with its facilities and advisory services. GSI was considered relevant and professional, providing a quality service. The survey pointed to the need for GSI to provide data in digital format, preferably web-enabled, and to improve aspects of its communications.
During 2005 GSI completed a new Strategic Vision to 2015 designed to set out its strategic imperatives over the coming decade and taking account of the upcoming decentralisation of GSI to Cavan. Based on feedback from both staff and stakeholders, Geosolutions sets the agenda for the next decade. Its vision is that GSI will be the recognised national provider of quality geological services, information and advice to support policy and decision-making at EU, national and local levels, as well as to inform all relevant sectors. Reconfirming the GSI strategic goals (see box), it emphasizes the need to address the information delivery issues related to digital format and web enablement, as identified in the customer survey.
A parallel publication considered the value of geological services. Cherishing our Earth identifies the spectrum of GSI services and indicates that these reduce the risks of sterilising important water resources, of transport and infrastructure projects incurring unforeseen costs and delays, of damage to our natural environment and resulting damage to our national image, of losses resulting from damage to shipping, of Ireland becoming too heavily dependent on imported energy sources, and of poor decision-making due to lack of accessible information. The publication states that the principal beneficiaries from GSI services are EU and national government departments and agencies, local authorities, the education sector, sectors dealing with construction, mineral extraction, energy, agriculture, heritage, fisheries, environment and tourism, and the general public.