Towards a Sustainable Geospatial Ecosystem Beyond SDIs

Since the SDI conceptualisation was developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s there have been many technological and other changes which have quite radically changed the environment for geospatial information and analytics. There is thus a need to re-think and re-align the way in which geospatial information is shared, analysed and used in the rapidly evolving environment of today and into the future.

Since November 2020 EUROGI has facilitated a group of geospatial experts from around the world getting together to discuss the ‘beyond SDI’ issue.  The group has produced a paper which proposes the idea of a geospatial ecosystem as a basis for establishing a new updated framework.  The paper can be accessed through this link.

We would welcome comments on the paper so please do not hesitate to provide your inputs in the comments section below.


  • James Bruce McCormack

    Well done EUROGi

  • Alexander Kmoch


    Link to join the session:

  • Josh Lieberman

    The Open Geospatial Consortium has also been addressing the future of SDI in two concept development studies whose reports are now publicly available:

    Modernizing SDI: Enabling Data Interoperability for Regional Assessments and Cumulative Effects CDS (

    Building Energy Mapping and Analytics: Concept Development Study Report (

  • Jeff Thurston

    This is an interesting read and thrust toward SDI change. I have read it a few times and make several observations. 1) From the distance, current SDI over the last 30 years have not been a remarkable success. Several problematic issues were pointed out over time, many of which, were not solved. 2) Fundamentally, SDI have not had great uptake outside of the professional ‘geo’ community. This is a sad realization under the circumstances.

    This current document aims to begin change with respect to SDI. Rightfully so as identified and reasoned. However, the statement “We need to transform our catalogue and portal approach into something that is
    compatible with a wider and more diverse user and provider community,” while suggesting even greater impetus toward ‘niche’ directions causes one to scratch their head. Will creating smaller boxes of efforts really serve to connect them more efficiently?

    I would suggest that the focous on ‘WHERE’ be exchanged to ‘WHEN’ If SDI were to approach all data, regardless of source into:
    1) real-time
    2) near real-time
    3) recent time
    4) long or past time

    One might argue that space, resolution, scale, accuracy and and even quality become more apparent. The data one wants and needs for real-time would certainly have higher quality and applicability than that where one only needs guidance, direction or exploration.

    SDI are never done. They evolve, change, grow, subside, move and breath. The fear in creating a whole new set of supposed requirements that fit any kind of niche or boundary limits their use and future evolution – which can be argued is pretty close to the same approach used the first time around. However, time seems a better connector and relator to application use, needed data and decision-making without restriction of source.

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

  • Alan L Leidner

    This paper and the Beyond SDI publication from GASGI are admirable. However, I wish there had been more mention of the specific kinds of framework data that give spatial definition to all features in the built, natural, and human environments. These layers include streets and addresses (can be grid addresses), parcels, x,y coordinates derived from a photogrammetric basemap, and elevation. These layers provide the common foundation for hundreds of applications at the city, country, state, and province level, and could be integrated to provide national views. Standardized spatial identifiers allow dozens of different organizations within a jurisdiction to create their own data for their own operations, knowing their data can be combined with any other layers in the locality. In NYC and many other cities the development of standardized framework layers that provide spatial identity are the basis for hundreds of successful applications. In New York as many as forty City agencies build their applications on these framework layers resulting in improved tax assessment and billing, emergency and disaster response systems, and a wide variety of operations support applications. SDI is alive and flourishing in many localities who can then use their spatial frameworks to advance into AI, digital twins, and sensor implementation. The international GIS community has a lot to learn from local government GIS successes that increase government revenues by $100M’s and save hundreds of lives annually and can increase operational efficiencies by 10% and more. An examination of a successful local government GIS (like that in NYC) would help inform efforts for regional and nationall implementations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *