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National Spatial Data Infrastructure 2.0

Posted by Dave Smith On 1/28/2009 03:02:00 PM 2 comments

Recently there has been a great deal of discussion about "NSDI 2.0" - and yet it seems there is much confusion about what it is or isn't - and what we should do, or whether we should bother discussing it at all.

To step backward in time, it primarily deals with National Spatial Data Infrastructure from a federal perspective, as enacted through the Office of Management and Budget Circular A-16.

This document was originally issued in 1990, followed by Presidential Executive Order 12906, and then subsequently updated in 2002 (which incorporated EO 12906).

OMB Circular A-16 (as revised 2002)

In its present form, the NSDI (if you were to consider it NSDI 1.0) consists of:

  • Defined data themes (geodetic control, orthoimagery, elevation, transportation, hydrography, governmental units, and cadastral information)
  • Metadata (FGDC Metadata Format)
  • The National Spatial Data Clearinghouse (Geospatial One-Stop)
  • Standards (developed only when no existing voluntary standards exist, in accordance with OMB Circular A-119)
  • Partnerships
Within the NSDI, oversight is provided by the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC)

Additionally, A-16 pursues the following:
  • Privacy and Security of raw and processed citizens' personal data and accuracy of statistical data
  • Access to these data, subject to OMB Circular A-130
  • Protection of proprietary interests to these data 
  • Interoperability between various federal agencies' information systems within these data
The NSDI supports the advancement for a Global Spatial Data Infrastructure that coincides with National Security interests. Any Federal system that develops international data in accordance with these systems must follow international voluntary standards as outlined by Circular A-119.

The Current Situation
With the FGDC and OMB mandate, this prior effort more than anything, establishes a framework.  This framework, in turn, is something that individual agencies and data stewards can build to.  Similarly, the recent Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Geospatial Line of Business (GeoLoB) and other initiatives, such as the Federal CIO Council's Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) Geospatial Profile 1.1 provide guidance toward harmonizing investment, technology and architecture.  Further, the recently-formed National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC) has been formed under the Federal Advisory Committee Act to provide advice, from a community cross-section, to FGDC.

Here nonetheless remains the challenge of populating this framework.  Many diverse efforts are ongoing, which align with these efforts, such as Imagery For The Nation, such as EPA's Exchange Network, however some of these efforts still lack adequate resources for completion, may have issues with stovepipes, lack of interoperability, lack of access, and so on.

The drivers for completing this work are manifold - such as providing adequate tools for planning, to better allow informed decision-making for such things as roadways and transportation, for analysis of demographics toward broadband investments, for homeland security, for planning improvements to municipal sewers, for protecting natural and archaeological heritage and biodiversity, and so on.   As such, with discussion of massive stimulus and the H.R. 1 bill geared toward many of these things, it is imperative that decisions and investments be made in an informed fashion.

Currently multiple documents of relevance and proposals toward populating this framework and advancing the various initiatives are currently circulating within the GIS community:
All of these speak to the need for populating the NSDI framework.  The questions and differences only remain in approaches.    Many elements are crucial to success, such as:
  • Satisfying clear mandates, requirements and drivers for geospatial data
  • Delivering data in an accessible, vendor-neutral, platform-agnostic and interoperable fashion
  • Leveraging and dovetailing into existing initiatives and investments
  • Partnerships:  Federal/State/Local/Tribal/Academia/NGO/Industry
  • And many more...  These need to be considered carefully.
The hope is that the community can have an open, informed discussion of these elements and proposals, along with all of the key context, history and background.  And hopefully adequate open forums will become available for doing so.

2 Response for the " National Spatial Data Infrastructure 2.0 "

  1. This is, and I can not overstate this, not my area of expertise. However, I read this entire article. This is an excellent read and I appreciate your ability to put something as technical and thorough as this post together in a way that is readable and enjoyable.

    I'm glad I'm subscribed. Well done.

  2. Great! Friendly and courteous people are always a pleasure doing business with. Nice work on your National Spatial Data Infrastructure 2.0 .