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    Exploring all aspects of mapping and geography, from field data collection, to mapping and analysis, to integration, applications development, enterprise architecture and policy

Landscape of National GIS...

Posted by Dave Smith On 2/01/2009 12:43:00 AM 3 comments

In considering the current state of geospatial data in the nation, it runs the gamut. A substantial amount of data is collected and developed at the local level. Some is collected and developed at the state and federal level, some by tribes, some by academia, some by non-profits, and some by private sector. Some of this data is generated on a regular basis, as part of an established program; some is purely on an ad-hoc basis. Some is mandated, such as some of the data collected on environmental data through the National Environmental Information Exchange Network, some is collected, purely incidental to other activities.

Some datasets exist on a national basis, some do not. And all throughout, there are myriad overlapping use cases, which may additionally place differing requirements on datasets. For example, in some cases, a roadway GIS dataset may be geared to roadway maintenance needs; in others, toward network and traffic analysis. In some cases, the requirements, dataset characteristics and attributes can converge and be accommodated in a single dataset. In others, they may not be able to converge, but the needed datasets can be developed by means of value-added attributes or joins. In some cases, derivative data is required. In many cases, there is tremendous need for consistency and authoritative datasets.

The landscape that quickly begins to emerge is one which is a patchwork, full of seams, overlaps, disjoints, gaps and disconnects- but- also one which holds much potential for leveraging disparate investments, and providing economies of scale, along with increasing richness of data, increased update frequency, increased accuracy and completeness.

How can these gaps and disjoints be bridged? Through a framework, forum and national dialogue, bringing together stakeholders at all levels – federal, state, local, tribal, academia, non-profit, and industry; through partnerships; through collaboration - organizations like NSGIC, like Federal and other agency GIS workgroups, like CUAHSI and many others. This is what holds a National Spatial Data Infrastructure together and brings success.  


The first step is in considering the concept.

Act Locally, Think Globally.

3 Response for the " Landscape of National GIS... "

  1. Good points Dave. You hit the nail on the head.

    For some reason many people think an NSDI has to be a homogenous, across-the-board, inter-connecting set of data that all looks the same.

    That is not true.

    It only has to be findable, capable of being integrated and understood.

    This implies searchable, useable, linkable and with metadata.

    One gains the feeling that something analagous to sitting in a room sharing a pizza or discussion among people, like you suggest, would be quite powerful.

  2. More than a few communities license and/or charge for their data. This is going to be a major obstacle in any type of National GIS. A great example is LiDAR - there is tons of it out there, the USGS CLICK site contains only a very small portion.

  3. "For some reason many people think an NSDI has to be a homogenous, across-the-board, inter-connecting set of data that all looks the same. That is not true. It only has to be findable, capable of being integrated and understood."

    Agreed. People should step back and take a look at NSDI as a collaborative process to develop, coordinate and promote the data infrastructure.

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