A Clustre of SDIs Supported by a Community

A Clustre of SDIs Supported by a Community

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An SDI of SDIs, the IDEE connects the three levels of government as well as the academia and the private sector. By Antonio F. Rodríguez

The Spanish Spatial Data Infrastructure or Infraestructura de Datos Espaciales de España (IDEE) has evolved from a bottoms-up approach. It embraces nodes from the three levels of government (national, regional and local) to form an SDI of SDIs, with a healthy and collaborative community sharing resources, good practices and experiences.

IDEE was established in April 2002 along with the INSPIRE initiative. In that year the Working Group for IDEE was also set up. Stakeholders from various public bodies, private companies and academia were included in the Working Group Board. An existing umbrella body, National Geographic High Council (NGHC) which coordinate the cartographic activities being carried out by the Spanish government at national, regional and local levels, included the Working Group for IDEE in its structure.


Geosalut showing chemists within 1 km radius of a given point.

At present, the working group for the IDEE comprises of 239 organisations and over 412 individual members. It organises an annual workshop and various forums. In 2010, the annual workshop was opened to the Portuguese and Andorran SDI communities under the title of JIIDE (Iberic Conference on SDI).

The Spanish NSDI Geoportal was launched in 2004 and presented in the 10th EC-GI&GIS Workshop in Warsaw. Currently, it is implementing fourteen main standards (WMS, WMTS, WMS-C, CSW, Gaz, WFS, Atom, WCS, WMC, WCTS, SLD, KML, FTP and WPS), some of them in INSPIRE compliant style. The IDEE Geoportal is multilingual, available in seven different languages, and gives access to a big bunch of 2,448 Web services. (see table 1). Client applications have been prepared for giving default access to official WMS, WFS and Gaz. A Web directory of service URLs is also provided. The IDEE catalogue is synchronised via metadata harvesting and XML files interchange with the rest of available standard catalogues in Spain. From an organisational point of view, a technical coordination structure of the project has been set up and it consists of a set of reference SDI nodes: one national node and 17 regional nodes, one per region. Each reference node has the responsibility of giving visibility to all the SDI resources in its scope. Some interesting applications have been implemented from the beginning of the project taking advantage of IDEE Web services for example:

  • Goolzoom, a mash-up exploiting available WMS in real estate applications;
  • Wikiloc, showing routes for openair activities on a cartographic background that uses WMS;
  • Geoportalgasolineras, a geoportal allowing users to know which petrol station sells gas cheaper;
  • And Anthos, an inventory of thousands of vegetal species showing their geographical distribution on WMS;

A good point to guarantee coordination in this ecosystem of resources, bodies, initiatives, developments and responsibilities is the role played by the NSDI´s Management Board established by the Law 14/2010, on geographic infrastructures and services in Spain. To carry out this task, NSDI´s Management Board is assisted by the National Centre of Geographic Information (CNIG), an autonomous organisation under the umbrella of IGN Spain that is the National Contact Point for INSPIRE, the body responsible for the secretariat of the Spanish Standardisation National Technical Committee (AEN/CTN 148) in the field of geographic information. As a result, coordination among the key organisations in SDI implementation is guaranteed.

Capacity building

Continuous effort is been made towards awareness, promotion and outreach interoperability and SDI advantages by means of courses, seminars, conferences, articles, blogs, e-newsletter and a big number of face-to-face meetings. The CNIG team devoted to SDI also advises and offers support to any organisation in Spain and abroad involved in SDI and/or INSPIRE implementation and the same role is played by the bodies in charge of the regional SDIs.

Another factor that has significantly contributed to create an atmosphere of reliability is the decentralised collaborative cartography projects led by IGN Spain in cooperation with other institutions. These include the Aerial Ortophoto National Plan (PNOA), covering the entire nation every three years with orthophoto of resolution 50 cm and 25 cm; CartoCiudad, a road and street digital map for the whole country; and the Spanish Lando Cover and Use Information System (SIOSE) and Territory Observation National Plan (PNOT) that make possible to share satellite imagery among governmental bodies.

There is great collaboration and open atmosphere among the Spanish SDI community. Regional and local governments, universities and companies are aware of the benefits of sharing resources and ideas with an excellent spirit of cooperation and synergy.

This was possible because IDEE is based on two basic ideas. On one hand, the SDI department was convinced that digital geographic information is a development engine for the society and a very basic and essential resource than need to be expanded to progress in a globalised world. On the other hand, the SDI also thinks that open data and information sharing is a very good idea. IGN Spain and regional mapping agencies and departments are changing from being merely data producers to become services services providers. And the SDI community is also evolving from some kind of ‘Ancien Régime’ that can be symbolised in the old saying ‘Information is power’ (Bacon, XVI century) to a ‘Modern paradigm’ based on the theory ‘If you share, you always gain more’ (Rovira & Trías de Bes, 2004).


Historic SDI of Madrid. An old bullfighting arena can be seen where nowadays there is the Sports Palace of Madrid

IDEE spreading its wings

The IDEE envisions following for its future:

  • Implementation of Web services publishing LiDAR data;
  • VGI using platforms based on SDI resources;
  • Integration of geographic datasets in open data portals;
  • Data re-engineering for INSPIRE-conformance;
  • Reuse of PSI following new RISP European directive; and
  • Geolinked data and standard compliance verification and certification.

The Spanish NSDI is also involved in some international activities. It has collaboration with its neighbouring countries — Portugal, Andorra and France — connecting viewers and application, and buildings technical bridges to have some kind of horizontal interoperability. Some interesting transnational projects have also been developed, like OTALEX, SNIGII and SDIGER. CNIG is currently working for a pan-European project called European Location Framework (ELF) to generate a pan European Cloud platform and Web services to build on the existing work of the INSPIRE Directive and enable access to harmonised data in cross border applications.