NMO Summit

6 things to think about for your spatial data infrastructure

Collaboration is key. An underpinning principle of spatial data infrastructures, the achievement of a level of collaboration across a diverse group of people from a variety of countries, was well illustrated by those contributing to the National Mapping Organisation Summit 2016, held in Dublin.

NMOS LogoLocated in the beautiful surroundings of Farmleigh (May 18th 2016) and Ordnance Survey Ireland headquarters in the Phoenix Park (OSi, May 19th 2016), the title of the summit was “Servicing our citizens – why we need spatial data infrastructures”, with delegates from across Europe, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. There were 8 formal presentations, and a facilitated session.

NMO Summit Workshop

From those presentations and facilitated sessions, we were able to summarise the key outcomes from the summit to “6 things to think about” when it comes to establishing and running your spatial data infrastructure.

6 things to think about when it comes to SDI

  • It takes time
    • You need a leader
    • You need a vision and strategy
    • You need agility and flexibility – things will change!
    • Look at: Canada (entering Phase 4); Denmark (15+ years); Northern Ireland (iteration 3); Lithuania (started 2002)
  • You need to focus
    • On “authoritative” data
    • Not just on access to the authoritative data, but also its use and the users
    • On quality and currency of data
  • You need funding and financing
    • Now, and into the future
    • Denmark => “save through shared infrastructure”
    • You need a sustainable funding model, with meaningful and measurable outcomes, because you will need to target a Minister for Finance (or equivalent)
    • it is normal to have to justify the funding and financing each and every year – just look at Denmark
  • What does success mean?
    • Think about the taregt audience – the users. Is our primary target the thematic/expert public sector user, making evidence based decisions?
    • Such users can be invisible, they need to be made visible!
    • Mutiplication of usage can happen here, so you need to know what is happening but allow patience
    • Is this person your INSPIRE user too? Avoid building two bridges!
    • If the primary Return on Investment for an SDI is greater efficiency and effectiveness in the public sector, can we consider private sector usage and growth as a bonus where the SDI provides a hub for innovation?
  • We are weak on communication strategies
    • These need to be planned and built
    • These need to be resourced
    • These need to be supported by solid, defendable, case studies demonstrating the benefits and Return on Investment for SDIs
  • Where is our common evaluation framework for SDI?
    • Whilst some countries (for example Denmark) have an evlauation framework for their SDI, and all EU Member States have a (largely technical) evaluation framework for INSPIRE, none have a comprehensive framework for evaluation of their SDI.
    • Why not adopt and adapt the 2015 assessment of the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure by KPMG? We did in Dublin and we now have the “Farmleigh Framework”!

Thankfully, there are a number of resources to help as you think about those 6 things.

The Farmleigh Framework
  • A potential evaluation framework for your SDI – please find here
  • Adopted and adapted from the 2015 assessment of the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure, by KPMG, which may be found here
Material from the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (CGDI)
  • The CGDI online resources are here
  • The 2015 assessment of the CGDI, by KPMG, which may be found here
  • Best practices for sharing sensitive environmental geospatial data; AMEC Earth & Environmental. Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure, Information Product 15, (ed. ver. 1.0), 2010, ; 75 pages, doi:10.4095/288863. Available here. See the decision making tree (p.27) which you can modify to suit your context.
  • There is a host of very useful documentation, on licencing, volunteer geographic information, privacy, interoperability, open source, preservation & archiving, etc. available here
Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) Manual for the Americas
  • A manual for the establishment of an SDI in the Americas region, here
INSPIRE national implementation webinars
  • In this webinar series, different countries present their national implementations of INSPIRE here
Published case studies of interest
  • Canterbury (including Christchurch), New Zealand, case study is published here
  • MyPlan, as discussed during the summit, provides unprecedented access to information about planning and development throughout Ireland. There is a published case study available here

So, what next? Well, there are perhaps 3 actions that you can take arising from this summit.

First, work with your colleagues across the NMO network to establish a sharing mechanism that we can all work with. OSi, Esri Ireland and Esri would be happy to help with making this happen.

Second, share your supporting resources. There are strategies written and built, there are business cases in place (look at Canada and Denmark – can they share?), there may be communication plans. Make them available to your peers.

And thirdly, bearing in mind the “6 things to think about”, use the Farmleigh Framework to evaluate where you are with your SDI. By doing so, you will create another resource to share with us all!

Finally, if you’ve laid down the building blocks, then good luck to you, and we can’t wait to hear more from you at other national mapping events!

Michael Byrne, Esri Ireland; Nick Land, Esri; Hugh Mangan, Ordnance Survey Ireland; Tony Murphy, Ordnance Survey Ireland; Tracey Lauriault, University of Carleton.

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