Beyond SDI – Ed Parsons (Google)

The SDI is Dead, it is an ex-SDI

I’m of the age that the Monty Python Parrot Sketch seems to be something I have always been able to recite, if you have not seen it yet of course it is on YouTube.  The main theme of the sketch is an issue of customer support, the parrot purchased is dead, has always been dead and despite the protestations of the shop owner as to the characteristics of the Norwegian Blue variety is clearly dead.  

So too is SDI, an approach to building a technical and social infrastructure for sharing spatial information that was parallel and separate to the approaches the wider industry was using to share information on the web was never likely to work … if at some point is appeared it might, perhaps it was nailed to its perch!

A better approach to finding traction in Europe is to take a more conventional web based approach, as recommended by the Joint W3C/OGC working group back in 2017. 

In simple terms treat your geospatial datasets as resources on the web which should be easily linked by other users, give each dataset or better still each feature a unique identifier as content you cannot link to might as well not exist.

Don’t find the design pattern of the web – use it !


  • Is it by chance that my piece which includes your ‘creative destruction of GIS’ precedes your piece? Perhaps we should now talk of the ‘creative destruction of SDI’!
    Agree with you totally. In India NSDI has proved to be a non-starter because of turf battles, antediluvian regulations and an unwillingness to share data. On the other hand there are non-governmental efforts which are far more attractive as they are purposed and embrace the idea of sharing. Please do have a look at this site which I have had the opportunity to advise.
    Would love to get your comments. Email me at

  • Shijay

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