Beyond SDI – Roger Longhorn (SDI Consultant)

Beyond SDI – Is this our Priority Right Now?

I would be happy if the people trying to implement SDI around the globe already, just got on with it before they are hit with anything ‘new’ to do!

The keys are still (a) making information available for free or at reasonable cost and (b) publishing enough metadata about the data being offered so that it can be discovered and used, even if it is not to some international standard. This is already at the heart of the existing paradigm – do we really need a new one?

Computers are good at providing the interface between data and applications, as long as the programme knows (a) what the data is, (b) where it is, (c) what it may be good for and (d) how it is to be used in the application. And the ‘computers’ (people and machines) are getting better at it, even without fancy AI.

Standardization would of course help and make things easier. Without it, we would not have a global telecommunications system, global banking system, global weather monitoring, analysis and reporting system, safe air travel, etc.

However, there already is so much spatially referenced data out there in non-standard formats, due to legacy systems that cost a lot of time and money to develop and which, in many cases, organisations (especially in government and especially in developing nations) simply do not have the funds to replace, at least initially. But maybe in some future time, as existing systems are renewed/extended – yes.

Even then, people need to truly see the benefits. How many specific (not generic) cost-benefit analyses of post-SDI implementation scenarios have been conducted or reported. I don’t find many. So, a lot of SDI implementation is still being promoted on the basis of ‘it must be good – at least in the long run’. Like Bruce McCormack said many years ago, when SDI was in its infancy – “just do it as a ‘leap of faith”!

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