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National Spatial Data Infrastructure: The road ahead

Lt Col (Dr.) R. Siva Kumar
Member Secretary, NGDI Task Force, Government of India
Email: [email protected]   Since the international workshop “NGDI: A road map for India” in February, 2001 organised by various min- istries of Government of India including Ministry of Science and Technology and Department of Space, and Centre for Spatial Database Management and Solutions (CSDMS), a number of initiatives have been taken towards NSDI. During the conference, the task force constituted by DST in November 2000 with Surveyor General of India as Chairman, brought out strategy and action plan document. This document was discussed threadbare during the conference and was subsequently endorsed by the workshop. The taskforce met 10 times to carry out the major activities such as legislation of NSDI. It has deliberated at great length on definition of NSDI standards in terms of content, design, network, exchange, etc., design and organisation of NSDI metadata, development of NSDI search and access protocols, establishment of NSDI network (bandwidth and architecture) and design and architecture of NSDI nodes-specifications, etc.

In last few months considerable work has been done on NSDI Bill. A draft NSDI bill was prepared. It has been accepted that there will be a small apex body (NSDI Concil) with a large executive committee consisting of all data providing departments and a secretariat. DST will be a nodal agency for NSDI. Minister for Science and Technology will be the Chairman of NSDI Council and secretaries of Home, Defence, Space, S&T and Agriculture, etc. will be the members. The executive committee will be chaired by Surveyor General of India and the Executive Director of the Secretariat will be the Member Secretary. All participating agencies will be represented by their respective heads. Two subgroups were constituted. One subgroup for standards, design, contents, etc. and another sub group for the rest of the areas.

What is to be done?
One major issue that needs immediate attention in our country, is devising the strategy for NSDI and establishment of NSDI Council. The NGDI is seen as the technology, policies and people necessary to promote geospatial data sharing through out at all levels of government, the private non-profit sectors and academia. Infrastructure in this context means as under:

  • An underlying base or supporting structure
  • The basic facilities equipment services and installations needed for growth and functioning of a country, community or organisation
  • A governmental or administrative apparatus

The NSDI will provide a base or structure of relationships among the data producers and users that will facilitate data sharing. The increased ability to share data through common standards and networks will, in turn, serve as a stimulus for growth.

Making NSDI a reality
NSDI Council has to be constituted speedily to coordinate geospatial data activities which are listed here under:

  • Establishment of National Gepspatial Data Bank (NGDB) which is a distributed electronic network of data producers with a gateway to internet through NSDI node
  • Development of standards for data documentation, collection and exchange so that data can be shared across state and local boundaries on many different hardware platforms and with many different software programmes
  • Development of procedures and partnerships to create National Digital Geospatial Data Framework that will include important basis categories of data significant to a broad variety of users.

Follow up studies on the recommend ations of the Workshop have been going on and accordingly sub-committees under the chairmanship of experts are created to look into various technical and operational issues. In parallel, the task force is also working towards involving major stakeholders at the state and national level. A one-day international workshop is proposed to be organised on NSDI – Status and Future Developments in February 2002 at New Delhi to discuss the findings and recommendations of Task Force and its subcommittees.