You are here: Home About GAP

About GAP

The South African policy and planning environment has, in recent years, been characterized by a renewed focus on the need for aligned, collaborative, as well as spatially coordinated and targeted investment. A clearly articulated set of spatial priorities and criteria is one of the mechanisms through which government provides a strategic basis for focusing government action, weighing up trade-offs and linking strategies and plans of the three spheres and agencies of government.  In order to enhance planning frameworks and growth and development strategies at district, provincial and national spheres, as well as to established a shared platform for analysis to inform co-ordinated planning and investment by the three spheres of government, a critical need has been identified for more robust, as well as comparative spatial analysis of a variety of functional and administrative areas/boundaries.


In response to these challenges the CSIR produced the Geospatial Analysis Platform (GAP). The SA Geospatial Analysis Platform (GAP) can be described as a common, mesoscale geo-spatial platform for the assembly, analysis and sharing of economic, development and demand information. Considerable research was undertaken as part of a related CSIR project to demarcate, link and derive inter-operable datasets for these zones. This involved the development of techniques to:

  • Demarcate zones so that their edges coincide with important administrative and physiographic boundaries
  • To address the so-called ‘Gordonia problem which refers to arbitrary zone-size distortions of quantity maps
  • Overcome the so called “island approach” where the analysis and planning of local economies and administrative areas occur as if there are islands with no linkages to the surrounding region.


The core component of GAP is the meso-scale geoframe for South Africa, a demarcation of South Africa into a grid of more than 25000 mesozones, each approximately 50km2 in size (See figure 1)


Figure 1: Example of mesozones.

These mesozones were created in such a way that they are nested within the municipalities and other significant geo-economic and historic area demarcations. The zone boundaries correspond  with major travel barriers (such as rivers) as well as “break lines” between sparsely populated areas (such as mountains) and areas with medium to high levels of human activity (such as fertile valleys of built up areas). The mesozones are also linked to a strategic national road network. Spatial interaction modelling was used to derive inter-zonal distance and travel time tables and these in turn can be used to calculate a range of accessibility and proximity measures.



The intended general uses of GAP2 can be summarized as follows.

  • Developing an enhanced understanding of South Africa’s human/economic geography and the associated interactions with the built and natural environment.
  • Profiling and comparing local development magnitudes (needs, potentials, service and economic accessibility levels) from a strategic, district / regional perspective.
  • Providing a basis for addressing key development planning questions:



Due to the fine granularity of information more spatially specific maps can be created that allows for a better understanding of the location and extent of features or activity. The following map (Figure 2) serves as an example – indicating the spatial distribution of economic activity (Represented through GVA) in South Africa.
















Figure 2: Gross Value Add (GVA) indicating total Economic production at the mesozone scale.

For more technical descriptions and documentation on the platform and it’s development go to the Technical Overview section.