Making SDIs work !

Excuse my voice I had flown in the night before and I had a case of “airplace flu” and two hours sleep, nevertheless a reasonably coherent discussion of the future of Spatial Data Infrastructure development for the new Geobuiz channel.

SDI Thoughts

Has the SDI community turned the corner ?

Yesterday I made a presentation at the 13th GSDI Conference in Quebec (thanks to Geoff for his commentary), it was only a flying visit but I left in a more positive frame of mind that I expected.

The high level message of my presentation was, we need to think more about the I in SDI e.g. infrastructure,  that we already have a well adopted information infrastructure we can use called the World Wide Web, to use it Geo people just have to be better web citizens.

For too long the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure community has been dominated by the producers of geospatial data, the Mapping Agencies, Cadastres and the Technology companies that serve their perceived needs. As a result discussions of Spatial Data, quality, standards and policy dominated.

I was pleased to see this observation reflected in a number of the plenary presentations, and the obvious logical extension that more focus needs to be concentrated on the potential users of SDI’s and their needs. This point was made brilliantly clear by Gilberto Câmara director of Brazils National Space Research Institute, INPE.

He introduced four questions any SDI supporter should answer..

  1. How much is your SDI being used to build a modern state ?
  2. How much is your SDI being used to enforce the rule of law ?
  3. How much is your SDI being used to support public accountability ?
  4. Is data from your SDI reaching those that need it ?

Key to answering these questions positively is I think a recognition that the true beneficiaries of a successful SDI, are not other data producers, governments, or public sector bodies, but society as a whole.

Written and submitted from home (51.425N, 0.331W)


My Talk at the INSPIRE 2011 Conference

I was invited to speak at the annual INSPIRE conference in Edinburgh last month. INSPIRE remember is the European Commission programme supported by national legislation to build a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) for European Environmental data. I was asked specifically to address how INSPIRE can foster innovation and “smart growth”.

These are excellent topics to discuss in relation to SDI development, SDI’s I’m afraid are still designed and where built operated almost solely from the perspective of data providers rather than users. INSPIRE is in some ways a victim of this mindset, although there is a clearly defined user in the form of European Commission organisations. Here the issue is one of scope to really maximise the innovative potential INSPIRE, organisations need to gone beyond the strict requirement to make their information available to the Commission and share as widely as possible by adopting the principles of Open Government Data.

Written and submitted from the Google Offices, New York, USA (40.741N, 74.004W)