Home Articles GSDI: Finding and providing tools to facilitate capacity building

GSDI: Finding and providing tools to facilitate capacity building

Alan R Stevens


Alan R Stevens
Federal Geographic Data Committee
Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Secretariat, Virginia, usa
[email protected]

Keith Thackrey


Keith Thackrey
Federal Geographic Data Committee
GSDI Secretariat, Virginia
[email protected]

kate lance
Federal Geographic Data Committee
GSDI Secretariat, Virginia
The GSDI supports ready global access to geographic information. This is achieved through the coordinated actions of nations and organisations that promote awareness and implem entation of complimentary policies, common standards for the development of interoperable digital geographic data and technologies

Government agencies in many developing countries are at a critical transition from producing paper maps to digital maps. Often, the work is being done in an uncoordinated way, without documentation, and without consistent standards. High prices for data can put data out of the reach of many potential users. Copyright restrictions can prohibit normal scientific practices, such as sharing the data with colleagues, and publishing data in scientific journals.

A number of noteworthy national initiatives are already underway in developing regions, but generally, most countries still lack a national framework to ensure that geographic information is consistent, available, and affordable. Capacity building will further the development of such frameworks. With these frameworks in place, people who needs access to data will know where to go for it, what format it is in, its scale, how reliable it is, how much it will cost, and whether they can duplicate it.

Specific objectives
The idea behind capacity building is to convey the basic cannons of SDI development and sustainability. These cannons include but are not limited to:

  • Seek incentives not mandates
  • Distribute power and function
  • Build on trust, credibility, and common shared interest, not a hierarchy of control
  • Implement and govern by consensus
  • Design national standards to guide agency and local actions
  • Support decision-making with infrastructure
  • Collect once, use many times
  • Search before spending
  • Provide equitable access to data, tools, and decision-making
  • Protect privacy and confidentiality of personal information

Capacity building NSDIs require several things to be able to start:

  • A central organisation charged with building an NSDI
  • High level political and policy support
  • Specifically identified SDI development funding
  • Technical savvy to help in developing the basic building blocks (metadata, clearinghouse, standards, framework, etc)
  • Some interest among sister ministries that SDI development is worthwhile
  • The ability to grow and sustain the movement