5
Conclusions and Recommendations

Over the past seven years, the programs of the Federal Geographic Data Committee have been very successful in several respects. They have promoted the concepts and objectives of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure, and helped to ensure that the NSDI is a familiar acronym among government agencies at all levels, in academic environment, and among the private sector. They have initiated the National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse, and recruited a substantial number of servers to its transparent network. They have also promulgated standards, including 16 that have been endorsed by the community. These include the Content Standards for Digital Geospatial Metadata, a major contribution to the FGDC’s effort to promote greater sharing of geospatial data and less redundancy in its production.

The various partnership programs analyzed in this report have contributed significantly to this effort. All states except North Dakota have received funding from at least one program, and a large number of partnerships have been initiated during the process of competing for these awards, and sustained by the federal funding. We conclude that the programs have succeeded in their role of launching the NSDI, and spreading awareness of it throughout the geospatial data community.

The various programs have also played a significant role in seeding NSDI activities in smaller states, smaller agencies, and organizations with minimal resources. In this respect they have helped to “level the playing field,” and to ensure that the benefits of the NSDI are available to all. However, it is the view of the committee



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 73
National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus 5 Conclusions and Recommendations Over the past seven years, the programs of the Federal Geographic Data Committee have been very successful in several respects. They have promoted the concepts and objectives of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure, and helped to ensure that the NSDI is a familiar acronym among government agencies at all levels, in academic environment, and among the private sector. They have initiated the National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse, and recruited a substantial number of servers to its transparent network. They have also promulgated standards, including 16 that have been endorsed by the community. These include the Content Standards for Digital Geospatial Metadata, a major contribution to the FGDC’s effort to promote greater sharing of geospatial data and less redundancy in its production. The various partnership programs analyzed in this report have contributed significantly to this effort. All states except North Dakota have received funding from at least one program, and a large number of partnerships have been initiated during the process of competing for these awards, and sustained by the federal funding. We conclude that the programs have succeeded in their role of launching the NSDI, and spreading awareness of it throughout the geospatial data community. The various programs have also played a significant role in seeding NSDI activities in smaller states, smaller agencies, and organizations with minimal resources. In this respect they have helped to “level the playing field,” and to ensure that the benefits of the NSDI are available to all. However, it is the view of the committee

OCR for page 73
National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus that small-scale efforts designed to attract attention to the NSDI need to give way to larger-scale production efforts. Some research indicates that fewer than half of the local government entities in the United States are even aware of the meaning of NSDI. This suggests that there is a great deal of work remains to be done. The FGDC should be encouraged to get the word out through as many venues as possible and provide clear examples of how to participate and the benefits that can be gained. This study evaluated the partnership programs against four goals. One of these, improving access to geospatial data, has been greatly aided by the development of the Internet and World Wide Web, and the FGDC was quick to exploit the advantages of these technologies in the development of the National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse. We conclude that the programs have been very successful in achieving this third goal. However, with respect to the other goals of the specific FGDC partnership programs, we find little evidence that these programs have reduced redundancy in geospatial data creation and maintenance, reduced the costs of geospatial data creation and maintenance, or improved the accuracy of the geospatial data used by the broader community. For all three goals, little evidence has been found to demonstrate conclusively that the concept of the NSDI and its furtherance through partnerships has had any dramatic impact on overcoming the significant institutional barriers that inhibit the development and maintenance of spatial data. Without such evidence, we fear that the momentum established as a result of the missionary efforts during these seven years will dissipate, and that the NSDI will fail to achieve its promise. In our investigations, we looked for ways of assessing the impacts of the partnership programs using objective indicators and metrics. We found indicators of the level of interest in the NSDI at the state level, as discussed in Chapter 3. But we found a lack of procedures in the FGDC for long-term monitoring of the progress of NSDI. Such procedures would be of great value in assessing whether the NSDI program succeeds in moving beyond the missionary phase, and in arguing for future funding allocations. Accordingly, the committee recommends that the FGDC develop metrics that can be used to monitor long-term progress in the adoption of the principles and programs of the NSDI among agencies at all levels of govern-

OCR for page 73
National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus ment, academia, and the private sector. The Committee advocates adoption of a funding formula that provides resources to all participants on a non-competitive basis, coupled with grants of sufficient size and duration to achieve expected outcomes. In addition, the committee recommends that funding should be directed at projects that are of a sufficient scale to provide well-designed empirical tests of the hypotheses underlying the NSDI goals, and should allow for adequate documentation and dissemination of results. In our discussions, we were struck by the many forms of partnership that have emerged over the past seven years. Partnerships exist at all levels of government, and involve all types of organizations and agencies. Only a small proportion of them have received substantial funding from the FGDC programs, and in those cases the amount of funding provided was comparatively small relative to the total resources available to the partnership. It is difficult to see the complete picture if one focuses too much on the FGDC’s programs, and difficult to set these in the correct context. The Committee recommends that future partnership programs initiated by the FGDC should be conceived in the context of all relevant partnership programs, and should be designed to augment and leverage them to achieve maximum impact. The NSDI is at a critical juncture in its evolution. The FGDC continues to play the lead role of federal coordination. The efforts of the working groups and subcommittees have resulted in important dialog among the stakeholders and standards for the definition of different data components are emerging. At the same time, a new organization such as the GeoData Alliance could radically change the institutional setting for the promotion of the NSDI. The new initiative by the OMB demonstrates the importance of spatial data and recognizes that the Federal government has a limited role in its actual maintenance. We find it encouraging and surprising that the OMB initiative has been rapidly adopted as a useful umbrella for coordinating data sharing efforts at a variety of regional levels. The activities of these I-Teams must be carefully analyzed to determine whether a “bottom-up” model can be successful. We are also at an interesting stage in technological development that is driving a robust private sector. Commercial remote sensing satellites are providing data that are suitable for extraction of some urban features (e.g.,

OCR for page 73
National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus LIDAR (LIght Detection And Ranging), IKONOS, and SPOT data, coupled with GPS, are providing enormous improvements in the capture of digital terrain data. The wealthier local governments are making substantial investments in spatial data to support more responsive and accountable form of services to the taxpayer. Commercial demand for street centerlines and postal code data is accelerating at the same time the Bureau of Census is releasing the 2000 census data and is contemplating the need for modernization of its TIGER database. All of these factors reinforce the Committee’s original view of a national need for a robust NSDI that is in the public domain. The Committee also appreciates that a successful NSDI must address the need for business plans that encourage private sector involvement and local government investments.