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Elisabeth Häggquist
"How geological information is used differs between the same type of position between the municipalities", says Elisabeth Häggquist who recently defended her PhD dissertation at Luleå University of Technology. Photo: Lars Andersson View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Large differences in how municipalities use geodata

Published: 23 November 2017

There are large differences in how Swedish municipalities use geological information as a basis for decision making. Better support for officials could increase the use and lead to higher quality in decision basis. This is the results in a new dissertation from Luleå University of Technology.

– Geological information such as maps plays a decisive role in meeting the challenges of sustainable development. Currently, the available information is not used, says Elisabeth Häggquist, who recently defended her PhD dissertation at Luleå University of Technology.

In her dissertation she has, among other things, examined if there exists public interest for additional hydrogeological information related to tap water quality. In recent years, the presence of perfluorinated substances, e.g, PFASs, have been investigated as it turned out that 300,000 Swedes have been exposed to high levels through their municipal drinking water. In the muncipality of Luleå it were discovered in 2015 that private wells located close to the air force base F21 where contaminated by perfluorinated substances as a result of practice with low expansion foam (AFFF). 

– My study indicates that consumers are willing to pay for additional filtrations to reduce this risks with tap water. Municipal water suppliers should therefore take that into account when prioritising future investments in filters that reduce the risk of these substances reaches consumers through their tap water, she says.

Available data is not used

In one of the studies where she examined the use of geodata in Swedish municipalities, almost one in three respondents did not know that there is so much information available, nor who they should contact if they want to know more. Elisabeth Häggquist states that the needs of individual users are not met and better instructions are of importance. According to her, it is reasonable that this work is carried out byt the Swedish Geodata Collaboration that coordinates the management of the geodata supply in Sweden.

– Better instructions would make it easier for anyone who downloads geodata to start using it. A system that, depending on employees' tasks, can suggest what products users can benefit from would make it easier for Swedish authorities to show the available information.

May lead to inadequate decisions

All municipalities should provide the same basic services for their citizens and they need to take similar decisions. The municipalities use a lot of data in their work and it is natural that this is where efforts are being made to increase the use, says Elisabeth Häggquist. Today's difference between how municipalities use available geodata can mean poorer quality of decisions, she says.

– How geological information is used differs between the same type of position between the municipalities. It indicates that it is not the same processes even if they deal with the same issues. Several of those who participated in the survey expressed their desire to feel safer in having the right information when compiling materials for decision makers. 


Elisabeth Häggquist, mobile phone 073-644 55 18.