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United Nations Spatial Data Infrastructure
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  1. United NationsSpatial Data Infrastructure Dr Kristin Stock Social Change Online and Centre for Geospatial Science, University of Nottingham

  2. Introduction • The UN has many important goals: • the quest for peace; • advancing health, education, well being of children, women, the disadvantaged; • reducing poverty and improving food security; • safeguarding the environment and • advancing sustainable development. • Big challenges, and potentially big rewards…

  3. Outline • Background to the UNSDI – why does it matter? • Major issues in the architecture of the UNSDI.  • The UNSDI: a hierarchy of SDIs.

  4. UNSDI Business Drivers • Provision of spatial data and information: • cartographic data, imagery, GIS services; • thematic data to support sustainability; • global and regional environmental observation and assessment • emergency response and disaster preparedness. • Development of common data services to: • promote reuse; • adopt/develop data standards and infrastructure. • Capacity building: • internal and with member states. • Promotion of partnerships and cooperation.

  5. Key Stakeholders • Users and generators of spatial data sets – global down to local/village scale. • UN Secretariat and various programmes, agencies, funds, members states, regional organisations, academia, not-for-profit. • UN Geospatial Information Working Group (UNGIWG). • Main agencies (but there are many more): • Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO); • UN Environment Program (UNEP); • World Food Program (WFP); • Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); • Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO); • UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR); • World Food Program. • Many of these agencies have different requirements.

  6. How is the UNSDI Unique? • A loose collection of agencies – no central authority. • Must be collaborative. • Across jurisdictional boundaries. • No budget, limited resources. • Must be scalable. • Must allow different implementation at different levels of capability. • Not just about data sharing and technology, also promotion of cooperation and capacity building.

  7. UNSDI Architecture Objectives • Aims to establish a coherent umbrella architecture containing essential interoperable components. • Reuse! Reuse! Reuse! - by different agencies at different times, scales and for different purposes. • No one-size fits all solution – different implementation paths and solutions for different participants.

  8. UNSDI Issues - Governance • Governance of each component is very important given the autonomy of participants: • Who maintains this component? • For what purpose? • What is its lifecycle? • What resource dependencies exist? • What resources are available to support use? • What technical risks are involved in use? • What are the risks associated with change? • Who else is likely to use the same component? • What are the costs now?

  9. UNSDI Issues – Digital Rights Management • Data captured by many different agencies, for many different purposes, funded by donors. • Agencies are responsible for ensuring: • legitimate use of restricted data; • intellectual property; • providence is well described; • accreditation for contributed content and • fitness for purpose.

  10. UNSDI Issues – Data Requirements • Must involve reusable, standardised data models. • Should be modularised to allow extension and reuse. • Must ensure semantic interoperability, particularly important due to heterogeneity of data users. • Semantically rich Feature Type Catalogues.

  11. UNSDI Issues – Capacity Building • Important to propagate SDI principles to new domains. • Nations vary widely in their levels of development. • It must be possible for nations with little existing infrastructure to join in an evolutionary or revolutionary way.

  12. The UNSDI: A Hierarchy of SDIs (1) • There are many existing SDIs: local, regional, national. • The UNSDI will not duplicate these SDIs. • The UNSDI will be a multi-tier SDI, creating a hierarchy of existing national, local and domain-specific SDIs.

  13. The UNSDI: A Hierarchy of SDIs (2) • Data and DRM will be available through all of the SDIs, as well as the global UNSDI. • Tools and data standards will propagate downwards, but not necessarily enforcing conformance. For example: • Discovery tools will cascade downwards to interrogate the content of registries of sub-SDIs. • Mappings among data standards will be stored in relevant sub-SDI registries to ensure that data from different sub-SDIs can be interpreted and integrated.

  14. The UNSDI: A Hierarchy of SDIs (3) • Hierarchical Registries: • Each resource publishes to only one registry and is subject to only the governance of that registry. • Inheritance: • Some standards and governance rules may be inherited from SDIs in a higher tier. • This will only be appropriate in some situations, as some sub-SDIs will already exist and have their own governance and standards in place.

  15. UNSDI – Key Standards • None of this will be possible without standards. • Especially important for the hierarchical architecture: • Standards for registry structure (ebRIM, CSW, WRS); • Standards for Feature Type Catalogues (ISO 19109, 19110) – currently working to extend these standards to expand semantic richness. • Standards for data content (GML Application Schemas). • Ontologies...

  16. Conclusions • A hierarchy is the most appropriate architecture for the UNSDI: • takes advantage of independent SDIs; • provides flexible options for participation; • ‘light touch’ • allows for local ownership and capacity building and • maximises reuse. • Standards are key.