Beyond Spatial Data Infrastructures

EUROGI has invited a number of geospatial thought leaders to provide a statement on ‘Beyond SDI’, with the below quoted paragraphs as stimuli.  The position statements received are herewith published by EUROGI as starters for online discussion threads and will lead to a perspectives document to be discussed at the EUROGI session at the Geospatial World Forum conference in Amsterdam on 8 April 2020 –

The past decades have witnessed the conceptualization and implementation of Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDIs) as a foundation for organizing and leveraging geospatial data and technologies across application domains. Collaborative efforts in standardization (OGC, ISO), policy making (INSPIRE, Open Data), technology development and education have made the idea of SDI a reality, although of course much still needs to be done in many cases.

Recent technological and other forms of progress are pushing the limits of SDI as we know it: ubiquitous access to real-time data streams, vast amounts of geospatial data being generated continuously (satellite imagery and motor vehicle sensors are just two examples), semantic-driven ‘live’ analyses and monitoring, cloud environments, new emerging geoanalytical methods (eg machine learning/AI) and processes, the emerging dominance of large companies in the geospatial field, etc. – all these and many more were not part of the original data-centric concept of SDIs. So, where do we go from here?

We at EUROGI would appreciate it if you could share your personal thoughts, visions and concerns on the idea ‘Beyond SDIs’ (is there a need for a new paradigm?; what might be the key features of such a new paradigm?; how to build on the current SDI model?; what could/should be the process for moving towards a next generation geospatial infrastructure?; etc) in a 250 word or more statement.  

  • Please add your general comments on “Beyond Spatial Data Infrastructures” in response to this post right below, and your reactions to individual statements within the respective contexts.


  • Josef Strobl

    As a general thought on this theme, reflecting on all the statements shared on SDI perspectives: what does this mean for geospatial education? Which curriculum, syllabus, body-of-knowledge etc does in your opinion best lead to the knowledge and competences required for managing and leveraging the online infrastructures for today’s spatial dimension of societies / economies / environments?

  • Hendrik Westerbeek

    An interesting general item could be the evolution of institutionalisation of governmental tasks and responsibilities for aspects such as technology, human capital agenda, maintenance, privacy, security, legal protection a.o. as well in local, national, European and global contexts.

  • Thank you for another informative site. Where else could I get that kind of information written in such a perfect way? I have a project that I am just now working on, and I’ve been on the look out for such great information like yours. Thanks!

  • For the further development of existing or new services, the needs of the end-user of geodata should always be strongly taken into account.

    For example, elevation data on open government platforms are very often offered as downloadable files.
    Usually this data are provided in large files or available in sheet sections (LIDAR).

    For the end-user this means either long downloading times with clipping on client or a merging of many files after download. WCS are found very rarely…

    But as an alternative WMTS services for elevation data can be offered? Here you can find a first specification of WMTS with elevation data:

    Basing on the example with elevation data, I think WMTS is also useful to provide satellite imagery or LIDAR?

  • While there has been remarkable progress in above-ground SDI, the underground, both underground infrastructure and geotechnics/geology has been ignored. Underground infrastructure provides the underpinning of modern life including energy (gas, electric power, and fluid fuels), water, wastewater, and often heat. Not having accurate information about its location is a public safety issue, a major cause of construction project budget and schedule overruns, and a significant drag on the economy. As an example, in the United States the number of fatalities resulting from underground utility damage during construction is about the same as from civil aviation accidents. It is a major cause of delays to highway construction projects and at least a $50 billion drag on the U.S. economy. Many jurisdictions around the world including Japan, Singapore, Heathrow Airport, Scotland, every state in the U.S. and provinces in Canada, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and others have recognized the seriousness of this problem and have enacted legislation or taken measures to address the challenge of improving the accuracy and timeliness of information about the location of underground utilities and other infrastructure. SDI needs to be expanded to include the underground as well as above ground, otherwise it will remain only a partial source of spatial data for such uses cases as urban planning, emergency planning, emergency response, and smart cities.

  • Josef Strobl

    Wanting to dig somewhat deeper? Explore the papers in this ‘SDI Trends’ special issue in the IJGI journal >>>

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