SALB was been launched in the context of the activities of United Nations Geographic Information Working Group (UNGIWG) in 2001 and in the continuity of different efforts that took place in the middle of the 90's where the delimitation of the administrative boundaries was needed for the creation of population distribution grids (Tobler et al., 1995).
SALB aims at providing a working platform for the collection, management, analysis, visualization and sharing of sub national data for the 1st and 2nd sub national level.
The initiative main goal is to provide a collaborative framework to reach global coverage on administrative boundaries and names while providing a historical perspective on changes and as a mean to implement and monitor global agendas worldwide.
SALB programme can be decomposed in several phases or components which include: (a) Outreach to National Authorities, (b) Focal point designations, (c) Data Standards, (d) Data processing and transfer and (e ) Validation and dissemination.
Outreach to National Authorities
Each year, an official communication on the SALB programme is sent in the form of a Note Verbale in English, French and Spanish to the Permanent Missions of the Member States of the United Nations in order to request that a focal point in the responsible National Authority be assigned to the programme and requesting the provision of geospatial data on administrative boundaries.
Focal point designations
A Note Verbale from the Member States notifies the UN Secretariat of the focal point person, usually the Director of the National Mapping Agency or his designated representative. The focal point is then officially assigned to liaise with the Secretariat. The UN Secretariat provides credentials to the person to access and edit the data portal.
The datasets collected and published in the context of SALB are compiled from national administrative datasets provided by National Mapping, Geospatial and Cadastral Agencies at 1:1million scale.
The data transferred to SALB should ideally conform to the current SALB Data Product Specification. SALB team and regional partners can provide technical support in order to assist Member States to process their data following the SALB Data Product Specification. Consultations on the SALB Data Product Specification are ongoing.
Each SALB dataset is time-bound and coding reflects the period of the dataset. The prior coding scheme of the historical tables of SALB is discontinued. Users should be mindful that the coding scheme is renewed at each new version of a SALB dataset to reflect only current status and therefore to use the SALB historical/archived datasets reflecting the period of their statistics.
Data processing and transfer
The data transferred by Member States can be send delivered to the SALB team via the data portal to the SALB team (alternative options are available such as File Transfer Protocol (FTP) if required by Member States). The data is then harmonized to the United Nations internal policies and in order to be able to aggregate the country specific data collected into regional or global maps. Verifications are performed by the SALB team to ensure the compatibility and conformity of the data to the SALB Data Product Specification, including the associated metadata.
Validation and dissemination
The data produced is then uploaded by the SALB team and a final validation process occurs whereby the official entity within the State (generally the National Mapping Agency) will ensure the validity of the information and data posted on the web site before it is disseminated. Once the State actions the validate option on the data portal, the dataset for this country is available to the public for download.