Open Conference Systems, 2nd Croatian NSDI and INSPIRE Day and 6th Conference Cartography and Geoinformation

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Alternative and User Centric Spatial Data Infrastructures in South-East Europe
Ulrich Karl Boes

##manager.scheduler.building##: Milenij Grand Hotel 4 opatijska cvijeta Congress Centre Tamaris, Opatija Mimoza I Hall, 2nd floor
Date: 2010-11-26 09:30 AM – 10:00 AM
Last modified: 2010-11-14


A Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) provides access to geospatial data. Definitions of Spatial Data Infrastructures emphasise the user of geospatial data, but traditionally, such infrastructures are initiated and established by data owners, such as government authorities. The real users of spatial data infrastructures are normally not end-users such as citizens, but rather specialists working in administrations [Boes, Pavlova, 2008].

Users are important for SDIs, and therefore, they should be the real drivers instead of the data owners. This paper deals with SDIs that are initiated by users of geospatial data as opposed to the data owners and introduces the concept of alternative or user initiated SDIs. They are based on the needs of the users, and implemented using new technical possibilities in particular those offered by the Internet.

By way of example, phenomena such as Google Maps or Microsoft Virtual Earth have led to widespread use of geospatial data; maps and location information are increasingly used in mash-ups and social networks. Geospatial data has become part of a mass market. Users can create their own maps and the term “Volunteered Geographic Information” characterizes a kind of Spatial Data Infrastructure that is created by users. On local administrative level, where user influence is strong, geographic information is today more and more used and maps appear on the web sites of municipalities. Civic society movements demonstrate their need for geospatial data, for instance in the areas of environmental protection and sustainable development. It is users who build up Spatial Data Infrastructures to access and make their and other data available, which is different from the approaches by the traditional data providers.

Our analysis of the use of geospatial data in South-East Europe demonstrates that end-users have the need for using geospatial data and create GIS applications that combine several sources of data which can be considered basic SDIs. A workshop in Thessaloniki in February 2009, organized as part of the European project eSDI-net+, demonstrated that the South-East European countries, although lacking behind in the development of SDIs, demonstrate strong interest in and the need for the use of geospatial data and SDI development. One particular result of this workshop was that, in this region, it is often users along with applications in certain areas that drive the use of geospatial data for their purposes, although this does not necessarily lead to the implementation of a formal SDI [Boes, 2009].

This paper provides a definition of such alternative Spatial Data Infrastructures and describes approaches for building them. Examples of bottom up approaches for SDIs will be presented, from all regions of the world and from South-East Europe. The approach ties neatly with the open source movement, where interoperability and open standards are essential ingredients. In the long term, it is expected that these alternative and the traditional approaches converge towards a truly distributed Spatial Data Infrastructure.


Ulrich Boes, Raina Pavlova: “Is there a Future for Spatial Data Infrastructures?”, GI-Days 2008, Proceedings of the 6th Geographic Information Days, June 16-18, 2008, Münster, Germany, IfGIprints 32, p. 305 – 314
Ulrich Boes: Development of Spatial Data Infrastructures in South East Europe, 2009, 1st Croatian NSDI and INSPIRE Day and Conference, Varazdin, Croatia, 26-28 November 2009

Keywords: Spatial Data Infrastructure, South East Europe, user, eSDI-net+, open source

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