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National Spatial Data Infrastructure: Concepts and Components. Douglas Nebert U.S. Federal Geographic Data Committee Secretariat September 2004. What is a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI)? .

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National spatial data infrastructure concepts and components l.jpg

National Spatial Data Infrastructure:Concepts and Components

Douglas Nebert

U.S. Federal Geographic

Data Committee Secretariat

September 2004

What is a spatial data infrastructure sdi l.jpg
What is a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI)?

“The SDI provides a basis for spatial data discovery, evaluation, and application for users and providers within all levels of government, the commercial sector, the non-profit sector, academia and by citizens in general.”

--The SDI Cookbook

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Who needs access to coordinated geographic information?

  • Land Records Adjudication

  • Disaster Response

  • Transportation Management

  • Water, gas & electric planning

  • Public Protection

  • Defense

  • Natural Resource Management

  • Telecommunications Infrastructure

  • Economic Development

  • Civic Entrepreneurs

  • Regional Stewards

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Components of a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI)

  • Policies & Institutional Arrangements (governance, data privacy & security, data sharing, cost recovery)

  • People (training, professional development, cooperation, outreach)

  • Data (digital base map, thematic, statistical, place names)

  • Technology (hardware, software, networks, databases, technical implementation plans)

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Why build an SDI?

  • Build data once and use it many times for many applications

  • Integrate distributed providers of data: Cooperative governance

  • “Place-based management”

  • Share costs of data creation and maintenance

  • Support sustainable economic, social, and environmental development

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The outcomes of an NSDI

  • The participant members (contributors and users) are known and can interact

  • Core and specialized map and data services are easily discoverable and accessible

  • Decision-makers and analysts have ready access to the right geo-information for input to analytical and visual models – indicators, models, trends, patterns

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Benefits of an NSDI

  • Development of a private sector involved with data sales and added value

  • A chance for communities of all sizes and capabilities to participate in the knowledge economy

  • A more informed voter/citizen

  • Increased access to distributed geo-information through standards

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Creating the motivation

  • Development of an SDI should be a voluntary and have long-term vision

  • Government roles may require both incentives and directives

  • Commercial and non-commercial participants should find SDI appealing as a market

  • The correct solution for NSDI must be defined by the community

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Government Role in Infrastructure

  • National Interstate Highway system built for defense logistics, now baseline for commerce

  • DARPA/ARPA advanced Internet infrastructure design, establishing the backbone

  • Promotes standards to enable compatible solutions

  • We cannot imagine the fullest extent of how the NSDI will be populated or what applications will live upon it!

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Metadata... type and quality

  • Provides documentation of existing internal geospatial data resources within an organisation (inventory)

  • Permits structured search and comparison of held spatial data by others (catalog)

  • Provides end-users with adequate information to take the data and use it in an appropriate context (documentation)

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Metadata Formats type and quality

  • The FGDC Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM, 1998) is expressed in XML for exchange and text and HTML for presentation

  • Participants in the Geospatial Data Clearinghouse offer other metadata formats, including Dublin Core, ANZLIC, and expressions of ISO 19115

  • Any metadata format can be presented by requesting the HTML format

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Geospatial Data

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Framework retrieval, or local use


  • Special-use thematic layers are built and described as available geospatial data

  • Common data layers are being defined in the Framework activity


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Framework supports... retrieval, or local use

  • Community development of sets of spatial features, feature representation, and attribution to a lowest common denominator

  • Participant collecting, converting, or associating information to common Framework data standards with an encoding format to facilitate exchange

  • Multiple representations of real-world features at different scales and times by feature identifier and generalization

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Framework Data Standards retrieval, or local use

  • Eleven abstract data content standards are being promulgated through the ANSI process to become American National Standards in 2005

  • Each thematic content standard has an informative annex describing its implementation as XML/GML Application Schemas using OGC Web Feature Services

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Framework retrieval, or local use


The NSDI includes the services to help discover and interact with data



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Framework retrieval, or local use


An important common service in SDI is that of discovering resources through metadata






This Discovery Service is the core function of the NSDIClearinghouse for geospatial information and the GOS portal

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NSDI Clearinghouse Network and portal retrieval, or local use

  • Supports uniform, distributed search through a single user interface to all domestic metadata collections to find data and maps

  • A free advertising mechanism to provide world access to your holdings under the principle of “truth-in-labeling”

  • Search for spatial data through fields and full-text in the metadata and categorical browsing

  • Links through to full data access and online web mapping services, where available

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Geospatial Data Clearinghouse retrieval, or local use

  • The Geospatial Data Clearinghouse Network includes nearly 300 distributed collections of metadata searched via the Z39.50 protocol, “GEO” Profile

  • harvests XML forms of domestic metadata from Z39.50 and browseable Web directories into a searchable cache

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Framework retrieval, or local use


  • A second class of services provides standardised access to geospatial information






  • This may be made via static files on ftp or via online data streaming services. These services deliver ‘raw’ data, not maps.

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Data Access Concepts retrieval, or local use

  • Standardisation of data access implies several things:

    • Definition of model used for the data to be exchanged

    • Adoption of an exchange or encoding format

    • Agreement on data access protocol(s)

  • Organisations should strive to identify the mode(s) of operation to simplify data exchange

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Data Access Examples retrieval, or local use

  • Administrative boundary data conforming to the GlobalMap data model, packaged as Vector Product Format (VPF), made accessible over ftp

  • Panchromatic 10m, single-band, rectified imagery to a specific coordinate reference system, packaged as GEOTIFF with LZW compression, made accessible on CD-ROM

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Framework retrieval, or local use


A third class of services provides additional processing on geospatial information






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Processing Services retrieval, or local use

  • These include capabilities that extend and enhance the delivery of data through processes applied to raw data:

    • Web Mapping Services (OGC WMS)

    • Symbolization (OGC SLD)

    • Coordinate Transformation (OGC WCTS)

    • Analysis or topologic overlay services

    • Routing services

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Geospatial Interoperability Reference Model (GIRM) retrieval, or local use

  • Voluntary technical participation in the NSDI is defined through the GIRM

  • The GIRM includes data standards, formats, protocols, and interface specifications to maximize interoperability


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Framework retrieval, or local use


  • Standardization makes SDI work

  • Standards touch every SDI activity







Standards include specifications, formal

standards, and documented practices

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FGDC Standards... retrieval, or local use

  • Created by FGDC working groups and thematic subcommittees as national standards, representing community consensus view of data theme or common approach

  • Submitted for 90-day public review

  • Reviewed across disciplines for uniformity

  • Published as US Federal Standards

  • Standards by ISO, OGC, W3C and other standardization bodies are used FIRST, if they exist!


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Software interfaces retrieval, or local use



Endorsed practices and specifications






ISO TC 211



Content standards,

Authority for data

Foundations for


(Abstract standards)

Roles of standards bodies

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Framework retrieval, or local use


Partnerships extend our capabilities








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Partnerships are the glue... retrieval, or local use

  • FGDC has recognized 40+ geographic data councils across the country to establish 2-way coordination mechanisms

  • FGDC has funded numerous agencies with “seed” funding to further existing efforts along common lines

  • Partnerships extend local capabilities in technology, skills, logistics, and data

  • The National Map is a partnership designed to serve Framework data themes from distributed participating organizations for multiple purposes

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Regional consortia retrieval, or local use

  • Locally formed, interdependent

  • Inclusive, voluntary, open

  • State, local, federal, tribal, academic, private sector

  • Expanded from existing collaborations

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Best practices retrieval, or local use

  • Treat data as strategic, capital assets and public goods

  • Collaborate and Coordinate

  • Align roles, responsibilities and resources for data stewardship

  • Organize Effective and Efficient Production and Stewardship of Data

  • Pool and Leverage Investments

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Framework retrieval, or local use


Treated together this comprises the NSDI






Clearinghouse (catalog)








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Initiatives and Future Directions retrieval, or local use

  • Geospatial One-Stop and the portal

  • An Enterprise Architecture for the NSDI

  • NSDI/FGDC Future Directions Initiative

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Geospatial One-Stop retrieval, or local use

  • One of 24 official E-Government initiatives started in late 2002

  • Focused on the use and re-use of data and services between government (G2G) and the citizen (G2C)

  • Involves all sectors (federal, state, local government, academia, commercial)

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How does OneStop support NSDI? retrieval, or local use

  • GOS has a timeline for implementation of NSDI components by all partners

  • Deploys a “one-stop” portal ( for quick access to community data, services, and related resources

  • Standards are being developed with multi-sectoral stakeholders as national (ANSI) standards, not FGDC ones

  • Goals include measures of costs and savings through cost-sharing in data acquisition, processing, and service of geospatial data

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Some operational features retrieval, or local use

  • will speed and simplify search and browse of metadata as a replacement for the domestic NSDI Gateways

  • Metadata are harvested from remote collections into a single metadata ‘cache’ to speed search and ranking

  • Browsing for geospatial data is made possible through common ISO 19115 Topic Categories

  • Current portal is an operational prototype based on research and development efforts, March-September 2004

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Portal at retrieval, or local use

  • Map services can be registered and visualized in viewer where links provided in metadata (Online_Linkage)

  • Other resource types: Data, static maps, and applications can be registered through metadata

  • Channels (thematic communities) post and arbitrate selected browseable content

  • Operational portal is to be awarded by competitive procurement in Q1 2005

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Enterprise Architecture: retrieval, or local useNSDI as the Enterprise

  • Develop an Enterprise Architecture for the NSDI to encourage the identification of geospatial data service producers and consumers, and optimize resourcing for relevant programs within and across agency lines

  • Deliverables to include:

    • Common terminology and scope to effort Business, Data and Technology Reference models

    • Validation of Reference Models via active prototyping and demonstration

    • A consensus process to evolve reference models via broad NSDI Stakeholder / Community involvement

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NSDI Future Directions Initiative retrieval, or local use

  • Purpose: Draft a National Geospatial Strategy for the further development of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI)

  • Product: A Plan of Action for the FGDC and the geospatial community

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Drivers retrieval, or local use

  • Revised OMB Circular A-16 (2002)

  • E-Government Act 2002 (Section 216)

  • President’s Management Agenda

  • Proposed Legislation

  • GAO Reports

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Making Framework Real retrieval, or local use

Framework Standards Development

Publishing Metadata

Implementing Standards/Web Protocols

Urban Areas

Communicating The Message

Business Case

Strategic Communications Plan

Training and Education

Partnerships with Purpose

Restructure FGDC

Tribal Engagement

State Councils

Engaging Non-Geospatial Organizations

Future Direction Actions

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Douglas Nebert retrieval, or local use

Federal Geographic Data Committee Secretariat

[email protected]

(703) 648-4151