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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation 4 CURRENT SITUATION It is important to conceptualize the NSDI in the broad sense of our definition. However, when the committee received briefings from various agencies and studied the documentation provided, an important area of opportunity concerned data. The issues concerning the reange of spatial data are complex and hence we offer no panaceas, but we have attempted to discuss some of the impediments and improvements to using and sharing data in the NSDI. The data in the NSDI exist in diverse forms and reside in the analog and digital spatial data bases of various federal, state, local, and private agencies. Parts of these data exist as hard copy maps and charts created and periodically updated to meet a defined need. Other parts are stored as reports and studies that summarize the spatial data standards, needs, uses, and controls of the federal, state, local, and private sectors. Improvements can be made in the underlying structure, procedures, and standards that would allow for easy exchange of these data. It is important to note that data sharing has occurred. When needed data were found to be unavailable, an organization or agency would set about collecting them. If all or part of the needed data were available from another agency, a data exchange was often set up. When agencies found they were responsible for data collection over the same areas, coproducer agreements were set up where feasible. However, most data collection overlaps were resolved by each agency collecting its own data over the same area, ostensibly to meet needed accuracy and currency requirements. The justifications for this duplication in data collection usually fell into three categories: (1) it would be too expensive to collect the level of data needed by one agency to satisfy the needs of a second; (2) the accuracy or
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation level of aggregation required by the first agency could not be achieved by the data collection capabilities of the second agency; and (3) the data could not be collected in the time frame required by the other agency. With the advent of GIS, an extremely versatile, efficient tool has become available for manipulating spatial data. The diverse types of GIS applications have driven the need for more timely and accurate spatial data, particularly in digital form. This also has created the need data base products that are adapatable to rapidly changing user needs. As federal agencies discovered the value of using GIS for storing and manipulating spatial data, budgets were constructed to purchase such equipment and to collect the needed data in digital form. Early efforts resulted in a myriad of data formats, standards, and processing algorithms. In effect, each federal agency repeated what it had done with paper products, only in digital form. The cost (in staff hours) of collecting spatial data in digital form is projected to be half the cost of collecting data by manual methods for the generation of individual products (DMA, 1991). Once collected, though, the value of such digital data increases manyfold. The ability to extract subsets, generalize, and thin the data; increase its densification; or merge (fuse) it with other spatial data has created such exciting applications as emergency response (911) location systems, integrated land use/transportation planning models, battlefield management systems, crop rotation forecasts, and environmental impact assessments. MAJOR ISSUES While reviewing the spatial data activities of several federal agencies, the MSC recognized a number of general issues and impediments that need to be resolved to build a more robust NSDI. ISSUE 1: There is no agreed-upon national vision of the NSDI nor is there an apparatus to implement it. Consequently, there is no national policy covering spatial data nor is there a national organization or agency with the charter, authority, and vision to provide leadership of the nation's spatial data collection, use, and exchange. Each federal agency with a responsibility for collecting spatial data traces this responsibility to the fulfillment of its primary mission. For example, the spatial data collected by the USGS satisfy its requirement to
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation produce specific products from the collected data. Agencies must focus their funding toward satisfying their primary mission and mandates, and few, if any, resources are left to support government-wide spatial data oversight activities. In fact, the current cooperative efforts between agencies are more a result of bilateral agreements for data exchange than a concern for a healthy NSDI. The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) was established by revised OMB Circular A-16 as an interagency coordinating committee on geographic data matters. However, the present direction and organization of the FGDC have problems that inhibit its effectiveness. The FGDC has no charter to review the spatial data programs of its members and no power to enforce decisions. Because there is always some resistance to change, even FGDC recommendations on spatial data content and format take time to implement. The federal agency members of the FGDC steering committee have varied interest and involvement in collecting and applying spatial data. Some, in fact, seem to have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Finally, the agency representatives are not detailed to the FGDC as their primary mission, and their job commitments remain with their representative agencies, not with the FGDC. ISSUE 2: Because of the lack of central oversight, there appears to be extensive overlap and duplication in spatial data collection at the federal level. Overlap in data collection also appears to occur between federal and state agencies, and among state, local, and private sector organizations, all at a significant cost to the public. These institutions are collecting spatial data at many scales, levels of accuracy, levels of detail, and categories of data, making the sharing of spatial data very difficult (if not impossible). As shown in Table 4.1, many federal agencies are responsible for collecting spatial data of the same type over the same areas of the country. In the area of wetlands data collection (see Chapter 6 and Appendix A), for example, overlap of data collection is significant. Additional redundancies in data collection result from the diversity of definitions used for various classes of data. For instance, the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) and the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS), using the National Resource Inventory (NRI), collect resource data on a sample basis for all non-federal lands. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) collect similar data for the land under their jurisdictions. The Environmen
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation Table 4.1 Examples of the Range of Spatial Data Collection Responsibilities
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation tal Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed to collect a nationwide sample of environmental conditions. All these agencies and programs use different primary sampling units and slightly different types of data. Data delineating wetlands are being collected by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the EPA, the SCS, the USFS, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the USGS, and many state agencies. However, there is still no uniform approach to the definitions and mapping conventions among these programs. As mentioned, the primary data collection role of most federal agencies is to supply data products to meet their own missions and mandates. These agencies create products of differing scale and content and use different collection techniques and source materials. Often, such data are incompatible with similar data collected for other products without algorithms to thin, match, feather, generalize, densify, remensurate, rescale, or aggregate data categories. This problem is further complicated by the variances in the underlying base data, non-standard feature identifiers, and GIS hardware and software used to store and manipulate the data. ISSUE 3: There are no current mechanisms that allow identification of what spatial data have been collected, where the data are stored, who controls the access to the data, the content of the data, and the data coverage (e.g., scale, data density). Each federal agency controls its own spatial data as do state and local governments and private sector organizations. Some agencies, such as the USGS and the Bureau of the Census, have well-publicized mechanisms for obtaining their data products. Others, such as the EPA, make their data available to qualified users through an on-line system. Some agencies have yet to institute any type of formal mechanism for distributing their data. These data often can be obtained only by dealing with the person who controls the data within a specific agency. In summary, there is no single system that provides a catalog or directory of the spatial data holdings of all federal agencies. In January 1993, the Federal Geographic Data Committee printed a Manual of Federal Geographic Data Products, which represents a positive first step in the compiling the various federal spatial data holdings. Even if a comprehensive spatial data catalog could be developed for the federal agencies, the extension of such a system to state and local government holdings would be very difficult because to its potential size.
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation Extension to the private sector might further complicate the process by introducing proprietary restrictions. There is technology available to provide a distributed, on-line system that provides access to spatial data catalogs at various organizations. One such system is a public-domain software program, Wide Area Information Servers (WAIS). WAIS, which runs on the Internet network, provides the capability to scan, search, and often access existing data bases. WAIS could be easily expanded to encompass spatial data catalogs. (See Chapter 8 for additional information on WAIS and spatial data catalogs.) ISSUE 4: Although a Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) for spatial data transfer has been approved, profiles for implementing this standard for the exchange of spatial data between federal agencies have yet to be developed. Moreover, standard activities need to be expanded beyond transfer standards to include more specific measures and standards of content, quality, currency, and performance of various components of the NSDI. As a corollary, there is no agreed-upon representation of ''base data" for small-, medium-, and large-scale spatial data products. There is general agreement that spatial data exchange standards are a federal responsibility. However, there is a plethora of standards already identified for the exchange of spatial data. Most of these concern special data exchanges between a data producer and its user community or between GIS software systems. Other exchange standards are in the form of specifically defined products such as TIGER/Line, Digital Chart of the World (DCW), Digital Terrain Elevation Data (DTED), Digital Feature Analysis Data (DFAD), or Digital Line Graphs (DLGs). These files of specific spatial data have a particular format that the sending and receiving organizations have agreed to use for data exchange. These product formats, however, are not robust enough to support the ad hoc exchange of digital data. The Spatial Data Transfer Standard (SDTS; FIPS-173) is an attempt by federal agencies, under the sponsorship of the FGDC, to develop a general family of exchange standards for civilian geographic data. The SDTS should serve as the umbrella for more specific "federal profile" standards, such as DIGEST, VPF, and TIGER. With regard to base data, they should include, at a minimum, those spatial and primary attribute data that can identify all relevant information for a particular scale product. The base data must meet relevant positional accuracy and unique identifier requirements for inclusion of value-added
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation data from other organizations. Table 4.2 includes a typical set of base data that are representative for three scale ranges. Instead of a single base of data, the agencies are using multiple bases that are often incompatible. Some agencies are using the Bureau of the Census' TIGER/Line files as their base, whereas others are using the USGS 1:24,000 quadrangles. Although TIGER contains street names, the DLGs do not. Therefore, it is difficult to transfer TIGER attributes to the more geographically accurate DLGs. Other agencies such as the EPA and the SCS's NRI are using unique sampling units on separate base data at varying scales. Some data collection efforts such as the proposed digital orthophoto program (SCS, ASCS, and USGS) and the Digital Chart of the World [produced by the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA)] collect data to still different base scales and accuracies. These two products could become the base data standards of reference in the future for large-and small-scale products that would complement the USGS 1:24,000 (medium scale) DLG products, which have become the de facto medium-scale standard. ISSUE 5: There are major impediments to, and few workable incentives for, the sharing of spatial data among the federal, state, and local organizations. All federal agencies recognize the large expense involved in collecting spatial data in digital form. However, there are no real incentives (in fact there are oftentimes disincentives) to the sharing of these data. To share data, the federal agencies would have to agree in advance on the uses, types, and formats of the collected data. This would require one agency to collect, at its expense, more data than it required to satisfy another agency's needs. At the same time, the agency would become dependent on other agencies to collect data with the needed rigor, accuracy, and urgency. If such agreements could be arranged, one or both agencies might lose personnel and funding as a result of the savings in spatial data collection. Collection of spatial data for sale to the general public has its own set of disincentives. If state, local, or private organizations are willing to pay for the data, the payments often go to the general U.S. Treasury and are not returned to the agency that dedicated resources to collect and distribute the data to the buyer. The USGS is one of the few agencies that are allowed to collect proceeds from map and data sales and directly reimburse the relevant programs. Without a way to be directly reimbursed for the
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation TABLE 4.2. Examples of Base Data LEVEL I LEVEL II LEVEL III LEVEL IV ACCURACY Range 1:500 to 1:10,000 map; Class A NMAS 1:10,000 to 1:100,000 map; Class A NMAS 1:100,000 to 1:500,000 map; Class A NMAS 1:500,000 and smaller; Digital Chart of the World (DCW) Nominal scale 1:5,000 — Center line with feature dimension 1:24,000 — Center line with feature dimension 1:250,000 — Center line with feature dimension 1:1,000,000 — DCW CONTENT Elevation 0.5 to 2 meters 2 to 20 meters 20 to 40 meters — — Orthophoto 0.2 to 2.0 meter GRD 1 to 10 meter GRD 10 to 70 meter GRD — — Transportationa As shown on 1:5,000 As shown on 1:24,000 As shown on 1:250,000 DCW Specifications Other culture As shown on 1:5,000 As shown on 1:24,000 As shown on 1:250,000 DCW Specifications Soils As shown on 1:5,000 As shown on 1:24,000 As shown on 1:250,000 DCW Specifications Vegetation As shown on 1:5,000 As shown on 1:24,000 As shown on 1:250,000 DCW Specifications Names As shown on 1:5,000 As shown on 1:24,000 As shown on 1:250,000 DCW Specifications Political Boundaries As shown on 1:5,000 As shown on 1:24,000 As shown on 1:250,000 DCW Specifications Hydrology As shown on 1:5,000 As shown on 1:24,000 As shown on 1:250,000 DCW Specifications Topology Yes Yes Yes Yes PLSS Yes Yes No No Geodetic controlb All first and second order control points, with descriptions Spatially distributed representative points Spatially distributed representative points Spatially distributed representative points a Transportation serves as a geometric supplementary framework. b Geodetic control is included to the highest known accuracy.
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation resources spent, federal agencies are reluctant to collect spatial data for others. Even when joint memoranda of agreements are signed between federal agencies, it is usually for equal exchanges of effort. Data collected by one agency in one part of the United States are given to a second in exchange for equivalent data collected elsewhere. Examples of this type of joint data collection include the proposed USGS/ASCS/SCS orthophoto program and the use of USGS 1:24,000 quadrangles by many agencies as the base for their products. Other examples, such as the seemingly redundant resource mapping done by the SCS, the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS), the USFS, and the EPA's proposed Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP), show a distinct proclivity for not sharing data, sometimes even within the same department. At a minimum, coordination of sampling activities should occur within and between federal agencies. FEDERAL AGENCY ACTIVITIES The major issues reflect problems that the federal agencies are experiencing with the use of spatial data. Although customer demands for spatial data have increased dramatically and GIS technology has kept pace, the federal "suppliers" of spatial data have had significant difficulty converting their hardcopy production process to flexible production systems capable of supplying spatial data in both digital and printed form. A review of current federal agency activities (see Table 4.3) illustrates the magnitude of these problems. In general, each agency is trying to overcome the problems within the confines of its own charter, thus erecting additional impediments to establishing a robust NSDI. Most federal agencies are also concentrating on supplying spatial data in forms that match defined hardcopy products rather than in forms that lend themselves to easy manipulation by commercial GIS packages. In this regard, the federal agencies have not had incentives to meet their evolving mission as suppliers of spatial data to their customers. The MSC paid special attention to federal agencies with major spatial data collection efforts: the Bureau of the Census, the BLM, the DMA, the USFS, the FWS, the SCS, and the USGS. The EPA is discussed because it is one of the largest federal users of spatial data. These agencies will be
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation TABLE 4.3 Examples of Federal Use of Geographic Information Federal Organization Selected Activities Making Use of Geographic Data Department of Agriculture Plant and animal disease quarantine studies; pest management; cropland, forest, and rangeland management; soils mapping; watershed quality, planning, and management Department of Commerce Census taking; climatic mapping; definition, establishment, and maintenance of the National Geodetic Reference System; development of geoid models; global modeling; coastal, estuarine, and marine resource monitoring and management Department of Defense Base master planning; facilities siting and management; resource and land use management; environmental analysis and planning; hazardous waste remediation; mapping and charting; tactical and strategic military operations Department of Energy Environmental impact analysis; facilities siting; transmission line routing; hazardous waste remediation; energy resource estimates; emergency response; evacuation planning; hazardous materials routing Department of the Interior Natural and cultural resource management and planning; economic development; transportation planning; alternative and conflicting use analysis for federal lands; mineral and energy resource analysis; mineral, oil, and gas leasing; water rights issues; environmental monitoring; mapping; wetlands inventory and trend studies; cadastral surveys; habitat suitability analysis; land records management; water quality evaluation Department of Justice Litigation; voting rights protection; drug enforcement Department of Transportation Airspace management; economic impact of highways studies; intelligent vehicle and highway systems; policy analysis; emergency response planning; traffic engineering; vehicle routing Environmental Protection Agency Air quality monitoring; Superfund site discovery analysis; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act site management; water quality and vulnerability studies; risk assessment Federal Emergency Management Agency Emergency planning and response; flood insurance program administration U.S. Postal Service Mail collection and delivery route modeling Tennessee Valley Authority Land and reservoir management; facilities site screening; natural resource and economic development; facilities management Sources: FICCDC (1990); FGDC (1992).
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation discussed in the light of their responsibilities to meet OMB revised Circular A-16. Office of Management and Budget The OMB has executive oversight responsibility for the budgets of all federal agencies and for establishing policies and procedures for federal agency GIS activities. Part of this oversight includes the review and approval of all large expenditures for spatial data systems. The OMB issued Circular A-16 in 1953 (revised in 1967 and, most recently, in 1990) to facilitate coordination of federal mapping activities. In 1983, an OMB memorandum established the Federal Interagency Coordinating Committee on Digital Cartography (FICCDC) to assist in coordinating data sharing across federal agencies. The FICCDC found many obstacles that prevented data sharing between government agencies and the private sector; barriers were of a technical, institutional, and legal nature. The FICCDC cooperated in developing and publishing the first draft of the SDTS to help mitigate these problems. One recent concern of the OMB has been the shifting of the nation's map base to electronic media. In 1988, the OMB recognized the need to look for opportunities to share data, standards, and development efforts among the federal agencies. Such sharing should substantially reduce overall costs to the U.S. government. However, the expected costs continue to rise for developing, implementing, and operating systems to convert existing map graphics from paper or other stable base to electronic form. The results of the OMB Bulletin 88-11 survey in 1988 showed that the estimated costs for "electronic mapping" of the civilian side of the federal government exceeded $100 million for FY1988 and would top $200 million by FY1992. (Briefings by the federal agencies to the MSC indicate that the estimates for current federal mapping initiatives are much greater—by at least a factor of two—than indicated by the 1988 OMB Bulletin.) The civilian agencies with the largest expenditures in spatial data activities are the EPA, the Bureau of the Census, the BLM, the SCS, the USFS, and the USGS. The EPA indicated that their FY1992 investment in spatial data was around $500 million; the SCS reported that their expenditures were around $220 million. (Both the EPA and the SCS alone exceed the 1988 OMB estimate; however, caution needs to be applied to what is included in these estimates.) In other agencies the MSC found that
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation O - Organizational structure; CR - Cost recovery; L - Liability; F - Funding mechanism; P - Privacy; A - Access a Information provided by H. Bishop Dansby, GIS Law and Policy Institute, Harrisonburg, Virginia.
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation Standards There has been a great deal of interest and activity in the development of data exchange standards. The current practical reality, however, is that only de facto standards based on available data or formats of software-specific systems are recognized in state and local governments. As a default choice, the USGS DLG (1:100,000) and the Bureau of the Census TIGER formats are often used because data are available at low cost and contain complete coverage of each state. Problems Probably the most significant spatial data problem facing states today is a lack of resources and a shortage of funding for data acquisition and management. States often look to the federal government for assistance, particularly with regard to spatial data required for federal mandates. In most cases, however, the federal government is not able to provide the desired assistance. Coordination of spatial data handling among state agencies has been a chronic problem. Differing requirements, limited resources, and organizational rivalries have impeded cooperation in spatial data activities. This problem is being addressed in many states today and the situation is improving significantly. Even though many states now have a coordinating body and data sharing among agencies is improving, they are still depend on a continuous flow of accurate and timely spatial data. LOCAL GOVERNMENTS Local governments are major creators, maintainers, and users of spatial data. Analyses have indicated that as many as 90 percent of local government (approximately 80,000 municipalities, towns, townships, regional planning entities, and school and special districts) operations involve some use of spatial data. Many have stated that they spend more on GIS activities than the federal and state governments combined. Local governments use spatial data for a wide range of activities that include: real estate assessments, land-use planning, public works, water and sewer utilities, resource management, environmental control, solid waste management, emergency management, and health care management.
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation Local governments generally require medium-or large-scale maps and data. While some local government activities, particularly in rural areas, can be supported by the 1:24,000 scale maps and TIGER data, most local government activities in urban areas require data at scales of 1:4,800 to 1:1,200 (1'' = 100'). Local governments have extensive requirements for cadastral maps since the ownership parcel is a key entity in many local government functions. Planimetric features such as roads, hydrography, and buildings are also important features; soils and forest cover are important resource features. Many local governments operate public works and utilities departments that require data on the location of public facilities and utilities. All of these features must be mapped at medium or large scales depending on the level of urbanization and the parcel sizes. Current Situation There has been a major movement to develop and implement GIS among local governments in the past several years. The major effort of each GIS project has been the development of large-scale and medium-scale spatial data bases containing cultural, infrastructure, and resource features. These projects usually involve the creation of new base maps from high-resolution aerial photography and geodetic control. As a result, these projects can take five or more years and cost several million dollars. Because of the resources required there are examples (e.g., Indianapolis) of data sharing among the local government and utility organizations within a geographic area. However, there has been limited cooperative activities between local governments and state or federal agencies. Some states have established programs of assistance and/or regulations specifying mapping standards for local governments. Most of these focus on equitable tax mapping throughout the state. Notable among these are South Carolina, Missouri, Oklahoma, and New York. In these cases, mapping standards employed by local governments tend to be uniform and of high quality throughout the individual state. Recently some states, such as Florida, Georgia, and Vermont, have established growth management policies and/or regulations that have placed requirements on local governments for the acquisition and use of spatial data. These requirements are sometimes accompanied by resources for compliance. Wisconsin has implemented the Wisconsin Land Information Program that provides access to state funds when local governments implement a land records modernization plan.
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation Spatial data development in a local government is now typically incorporated in a GIS program. The GIS program in turn is typically a consortium of several departments across the city or county organization or of multiple city, county, and utility organizations. Because this can cross a multitude of jurisdictional boundaries, these local projects require considerable organizational cooperation. The lead agency is usually a GIS user department such as planning or public works. GIS data activities have traditionally taken place outside of the conventional information services department. Federal Relationships There is little sharing of data between local governments and federal agencies. In recent years there has been very little federal funding provided to local governments and so little sharing has taken place. The FEMA flood insurance program has generated maps of flood zones that are used extensively by local governments. These maps are required for definition of locations for flood insurance purposes. Even though the scales and formats of these maps are often incompatible with other local government spatial data, they are used out of regulatory necessity. Federal regulations significantly affect local governments. EPA regulations in particular are generating requirements for digital data among local governments. For example, the recent EPA regulations (e.g., the non-point discharge elimination standards) are stimulating many local governments to collect spatially referenced data for purposes of storm water pollution permitting. This requires the local governments to integrate geographic, water, and topographic features with other local spatial data. Standards Generally the same standard issues facing states (above), face local governments. In fact the issues may be exacerbated by the often dramatically different scales used at the local level. Problems Local governments suffer from the same lack of funding and resource problems as states. The magnitude of the effort required to acquire spatial
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation data for a local government is often a serious problem. While new technological tools and procedures are being developed, the development of a spatial data base continues to be a major concern. There is about the same level of communication or coordination of spatial data activities among local governments as there is with state and federal agencies. Within a specific area, such as a county, there may be a cooperative GIS project that involves multiple organizations, but there are very few effective mechanisms for communication with other local governments to obtain guidance or resource sharing. A few states (e.g., Wisconsin) have a program for guidance or technical assistance from the state to local governments. PRIVATE SECTOR The private sector makes broad use of spatial data technology and has done so for over two decades; they are both producers and consumers of digital spatial data. Many uses involve digitizing proprietary single-purpose maps—for example, an electric utility company computerizing its "outside plant" facilities: utility poles, rights-of-way, and transformer substations. Timber companies were early adopters of GIS technology to inventory and analyze timber stands. While these applications involve spatial data, in many cases they result in the acquisition of proprietary and/or special purpose spatial data that are not of potentially broad usefulness within the national spatial data infrastructure. One exception is the sale of some of the spatial data by telephone companies to local governments as part of the enhanced 911 emergency service. On the other hand, many private sector applications call on the same generic spatial data sets time and time again, specifically: boundaries or centroids of statistical areas (counties, census tracts, or zipcodes) and street centerline spatial data sets. Typically, a person (or small group) at a private company becomes aware of a GIS or desktop mapping package, sees that spatial data technology could he useful to the company, and buys a copy of the product. They rapidly discover that the new system cannot deliver any value without a copy of an appropriate spatial data set. Practically without exception such a person assumes that the spatial data set is available from the government at low cost. What they discover is that either:
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation the appropriate spatial data set (census tract boundaries, for example) is available only from the private sector; a government data set like the Bureau of the Census' TIGER file is sufficient for many of the applications and it can be acquired from a private company cheaper and/or in a more convenient ready-to-use format; a proprietary enhanced version of a government spatial data set is necessary to make the application work, because of some shortcoming of the government product; or the required spatial data set does not exist and the company must have it built from scratch at a substantial cost. Incidentally, this experience is not restricted to private companies; in many cases government agencies at all levels can only find the spatial data sets they need from private suppliers. The private sector has many advantages over government in use of spatial data technology for several of the following reasons: Private applications are generally simpler or at least more focused: the impact of spatial data technology on their bottom line. Private sector procurement practices are simple and streamlined, so companies have better access to the latest technologies at lowest cost. Private sector decision making is streamlined; action can be taken quickly. In addition, private sector spatial data vendors in the United States have the tremendous advantage—practically unique in the world—of unrestricted royalty-free usage of federal spatial data sets like TIGER and DLGs, as well as copyright-free access to federal paper maps as a basis for proprietary spatial data sets. As a result of these advantages, a robust private sector community of users and vendors of spatial data technology has evolved, which consists of a large group of users, software vendors and data vendors. Users represent nearly every sector of business: fast food chains selecting new sites, catalog marketers targeting customers, taxi companies dispatching cabs, insurance companies evaluating hurricane risks, food wholesalers routing delivery trucks, sales managers delineating sales territories, phone companies planning communication infrastructure for future developments, and banks complying with home mortgage disclosure regulations. Every
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation one of these application sectors is a consumer of the spatial data infrastructure and is expected to grow for years to come. There is a growing number of software vendors offering a range of products from GIS, desktop mapping, desktop marketing, routing, and dispatching. In every case these software systems are useless without access to a spatial data set. Increasingly, the customers of software vendors demand "plug and play" spatial data sets; they want to concentrate on getting their jobs done without the costly diversion of digitizing or massaging a spatial data set. Many vendors only break even on sales of their software packages but make profits reselling spatial data sets to their customers. Spatial data set vendors are either companies that simply transform data sets like TIGER or DLG to the internal representation required by systems like AutoCAD, or companies with more ambitious goals of creating proprietary spatial data sets from scratch or by significant investment to improve a public data set like TIGER. The latter companies have specialized to serve geodemographic markets or emerging IVHS (intelligent vehicle-highway system) applications like in-vehicle navigation and route guidance. It is significant to observe that private spatial data set vendors dominate the supply of spatial statistical area boundary data bases as well as street centerline data sets. In aggregate, the combined data base creation and maintenance budgets of these companies could exceed federal spending on these data sets. In a previous report of the MSC (MSC, 1990), it was stated that de facto control of significant spatial data sets could default to the private sector. This has probably come true to some degree considering commercial activities of land title companies and the extent that private companies have leveraged off the running start provided by the Bureau of the Census release of TIGER in 1989. Traditional private sector advantages of efficiency and competitiveness have served the government well when, for example, building of portions of TIGER was put out to bid in the mid-1980s. The private sector as a whole responded aggressively and positively to spatial data set technology with dynamic growth in all three sectors defined above. But private information businesses tend inexorably to monopoly or at best oligopoly. At present, a competitive market exists for some spatial data sets, and the rapid growth of "Business GIS" indicates that value is being delivered at current prices.
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation As we say several times in this report, what is missing from the federal perspective is a vision of spatial data use beyond fulfilling missions of individual agencies. The value of spatial data technology in promoting productivity or stimulating commerce is not a major concern of the FGDC or of most of its constituent agencies. Expansion of the vision of spatial data use beyond federal agencies' needs will be considered as a future subject for a Mapping Science Committee study. ACADEMIA Academia serves primarily in a support role for the improvement of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure. Although the nation's colleges and universities have extensive personpower, GIS experience, and specialized spatial data sets, there are few programs that coordinate their efforts for input to the NSDI. In almost all cases, academia must respond to the requirements of those agencies supporting their research. It is clearly not the role of academia to structure the NSDI, although the productivity of many of its scientists would he enhanced if the NSDI were more robust. Many specialized GIS research and teaching laboratories have recently been established in U.S. universities. In many cases these laboratories work closely with state-level institutions to assist their states to rationalize and improve their spatial data and to educate students in the methods and techniques of processing and using spatial data. Examples of leading university activities include the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA—a consortium of the University of California at Santa Barbara, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and the University of Maine at Orono), the Center for Mapping at the Ohio State University, the University of South Carolina, and the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Research programs at these and other universities are advancing basic knowledge in the field of geographic information and analysis. Examples include analysis of error in spatial data bases; the use and value of geographic information; development of new data gathering techniques such as Ohio State's GPS van (Bossler et al., 1991); remote sensing research and others. The NCGIA receives its principal support from the NSF along with additional support from the USGS, the EPA, and others; the Ohio State University's Center for mapping receives funding from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the USGS, and other state and federal agencies; and the University of Wiscon
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation sin—Madison is supported by the U.S. DOT, the NSF, the USDA, and various state, local, and private organizations. Additional research is critical. The recommendations in the MSC's (1991) previous report on Research and Development in the National Mapping Division, USGS: Trends and Prospects outlines work that is applicable not only to the USGS but also every research organization that is part of the NSDI. We reiterate our emphasis for continued research on standards. The explosive growth of spatial data handling technology and applications has whetted the appetite of users for new and improved capabilities to analyze, model, and apply the data to meet their needs. The private sector seems to have satisfied some of these needs through the development of new hardware platforms and software to process the data. Still other needs or desires require innovative R&D to extend data handling and modeling capabilities. Although some results are several years away from the marketplace, the private sector has demonstrated its rapidity to incorporate new spatial data handling advances into commercial products. To realize fully the potential benefits of new technology, researchers in government, the private sector, and the academic community should work synergistically. REFERENCES BEST/WSTB (1992). Review of EPA's Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP): Interim Report, Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology (BEST) and Water Science and Technology Board (WSTB), National Research Council, Washington, D.C., 25 pp. Bossler, J. D., C. C. Goad, P. C. Johnson, and K. Novak (1991). GPS and GIS Map the Nation's Highways, Geo Info Systems 1(3), 26–37. DMA (1991). Digital Products Study: Uses, Standards and Specifications , Defense Mapping Agency, Fairfax, Virginia. DOI (1992). Audit Report: National Wetlands Inventory Mapping Activities, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of the Inspector General, Department of the Interior, Report No. 92-1-790, 54 pp. FGDC (1991). A National Geographic Information Resource: The Spatial Foundation of the Information-Based Society, Federal Geographic Data Committee, First Annual Report to the Director of OMB, 10 pp. plus 41 pp. of appendixes.
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Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation FGDC (1993). Manual of Federal Geographic Data Products, Federal Geographic Data Committee, Washington, D.C., MSC (1990). Spatial Data Needs: The Future of the National Mapping Program, Mapping Science Committee, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 78 pp. MSC (1991). Research and Development in the National Mapping Division, USGS: Trends and Prospects, Mapping Science Committee, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 63 pp. OMB (1988). OMB Bulletin 88–11, 1988 Warnecke, L. et al. (1992). State Geographic Information Activities Compendium, Council of State Governments.
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