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A Report Card on the U.S. National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI)

The Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) recently released its 2018 Report Card on the U.S. National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). The report card utilizes a letter grading system to depict the status and condition of the USA’s geospatial infrastructure.  COGO commissioned 24 content area experts to develop this second Report Card for the NSDI. These experts, drawn from the 12 member organizations of COGO, focused on the NSDI Framework to grade national efforts, and also candidly point to some of the shortcomings of those efforts.

The national assessment of the NSDI’s ability to meet future geospatial data, based on address, cadastral, elevation, geodetic control, government units, hydrography, orthoimagery, and transportation themes rose from a C in the 2015 Report Card, to a B- in the 2018 Report Card.   Grades improved across all themes; cadastral and transportation scoring a C- and a C, respectively.

The report also contains updated statements about the Federal Geographic Data Committee and the NSDI, which should be useful for anyone immersed in using geospatial data as well as to anyone teaching these concepts.  For example, on page 11 is a concise statement about what the NSDI should be, namely:
• A geographic resource for both the present and the future.
• A foundation for helping the public and private sectors use geospatial data for better decision making.
• A resource for many people and organizations working together towards common
goals.
• A collection of current and accurate geospatial data available for local, state,
national, and global use.
• An infrastructure for geospatial applications and services.
• A flexible resource that changes as technology, business requirements, and user needs change.

This 100-page document provides some excellent information about the history of data development and about the major data sets available for each theme.  In that sense, outside of the recommendations, the document is helpful as a short of “Data 101” document.  Plus, in some ways similar to the reviews that we have done on this blog, the authors review the major ways to access geospatial data.  The document provides insightful recommendations on how access can be improved, and how the data sets themselves can be improved, and so in the interests of all of us in the GIS profession, it is my fervent hope that these recommendations will be read and acted upon by those in the organizations responsible for each data set.

reportcard

Report card on the NSDI–a detailed and helpful document.

–Joseph Kerski

Categories: Public Domain Data Tags: , ,

Data sharing in principle but not in practice

December 10, 2012 1 comment

According to a recent US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, despite numerous initiatives and administration goals, the lack of coordination between three major departments has led to significant amounts of duplicated geospatial data. One area of overlap specifically highlighted in the report is in the acquisition of road data, with all three agencies independently collecting the same information.

It transpires the departments, Commerce, Interior and Transportation, do not have an effective plan for advancing the sharing of geospatial data despite the specific remit of the Federal Geographic Data Committee to promote coordination among the three agencies. To date, the only goal all three department have achieved was making data available on a clearinghouse. Although the necessary policies for sharing data do exist, implementing those policies hasn’t been a priority as the agencies involved have been focussed on other activities.

Geospatial data silos and data duplication are not new; both have been around for almost as long as people have been collecting the data. Recent technological innovations  – cloud computing, improved bandwidth, better data capture techniques, improved search engines and so on – were supposed to revolutionize our access to spatial data and make duplication like this a thing of the past. Instead they only serve to highlight how the major stumbling blocks to progress in sharing data continue to be organizational and administrative. Just how far up the collective ToDo list these data sharing initiatives will go in the wake of this report remains to be seen.