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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The purpose of this report is to identify a foundation that providesa common reference system for the generation and exchange of spatialdata. The Mapping Science Committee (MSC) believes it is in the publicinterest for government to play a leading and facilitating role incoordinating the development of spatial data and to make those dataavailable for public use and exchange.

Spatial data are expensive to generate, maintain, and integrate withother data. No single federal, state, or local agency can effectivelyrespond to all possible spatial data needs of their constituencies.Nor can a single level of accuracy, consistency, or currentness bereasonably applied to all data products or applications. With a commonlocational registry for spatial data of all kinds, data producedfor one application can be integrated more readily with other data.Without this, data sharing and exchange are impeded. Data sharingcan minimize duplication, reduce long-term costs, and streamlineanalysis and decision making. Mechanisms to integrate and exchangedigital spatial data are a fundamental component of the nationalspatial data infrastructure (NSDI). However, to effectively sharespatial data, a common foundation of selected data is needed.

The MSC defines the NSDI foundation as the minimal directly observable or recordabledata from which other spatial data are referenced and compiled. This foundation will assist in the integration of disparate spatialdata sets and enable sharing. It will be of enormous benefit to federalagencies, state and local governments, the private sector, and thepublic at large.



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A DATA FOUNDATION FOR THE NATIONAL SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The purpose of this report is to identify a foundation that providesa common reference system for the generation and exchange of spatialdata. The Mapping Science Committee (MSC) believes it is in the publicinterest for government to play a leading and facilitating role incoordinating the development of spatial data and to make those dataavailable for public use and exchange. Spatial data are expensive to generate, maintain, and integrate withother data. No single federal, state, or local agency can effectivelyrespond to all possible spatial data needs of their constituencies.Nor can a single level of accuracy, consistency, or currentness bereasonably applied to all data products or applications. With a commonlocational registry for spatial data of all kinds, data producedfor one application can be integrated more readily with other data.Without this, data sharing and exchange are impeded. Data sharingcan minimize duplication, reduce long-term costs, and streamlineanalysis and decision making. Mechanisms to integrate and exchangedigital spatial data are a fundamental component of the nationalspatial data infrastructure (NSDI). However, to effectively sharespatial data, a common foundation of selected data is needed. The MSC defines the NSDI foundation as the minimal directly observable or recordabledata from which other spatial data are referenced and compiled. This foundation will assist in the integration of disparate spatialdata sets and enable sharing. It will be of enormous benefit to federalagencies, state and local governments, the private sector, and thepublic at large.

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A DATA FOUNDATION FOR THE NATIONAL SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE Data that are derived from, or tied to, the foundation and meet aset of criteria identified in this report are referred to as framework data. They are generally needed by all levels of government andthe private sector. It is logical for these to be integrated withthe foundation and accessible to anyone. Specifications for integratingframework data with the foundation also are identified in this report.Examples of framework data themes are presented to demonstrate fulland partial adherence to the specifications and to prioritize spatialdata activities. RECOMMENDATIONS The MSC recommends that geodetic control, orthorectified imagery,and terrain (elevation) data be considered thecritical foundationof the National Spatial Data Infrastructure. The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC)should be responsiblefor coordinating the development andcertification of a foundationand for its maintenance andavailability. Programs to acquire thedata that comprise thefoundation should be accelerated to ensurethat the foundationis adequate to meet the needs of the NSDI, particularlyfor theintegration of other data. Data partnerships among federalagencies, state and local governments, the private sector, andothers should be a key component of these programs. Specific spatial data themes should be designated asframework data. Three specific spatial data themes—transportation, hydrology, and boundary elements—were designated by President Clinton as priorities or framework inorder to support the decennial census

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A DATA FOUNDATION FOR THE NATIONAL SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE in the year 2000 (Executive Order 12906, April 11, 1994; “Coordinating Geographic Data Acquisition and Access: The NationalSpatial Data Infrastructure”). The Federal Geographic Data Committee should (a) coordinate identificationof the various components of existing framework data through itsclearinghouse, (b) encourage efforts to integrate those data withthe foundation, and (c) identify gaps in data coverage and encouragethe establishment of programs that include partnerships to populatethese framework data themes. Although coordinated by the FGDC, individual federal agencies willneed to identify funds for specific activities (including partnerships)related to the compilation, maintenance, quality control, certification,and access of the foundation and framework data. To accomplish the needed compilation, maintenance, quality control,and access of the foundation and framework data, additional researchand development efforts are required to technically support theseactivities. Research topics should include data integration, intelligent querysystems and distributed networks, improved data maintenance procedures,and standards for data certification. The FGDC has made significant progress in the past few years. Themetadata content standard and the spatial data transfer standarddeveloped over the past few years are superb examples of some ofthe efforts involving standards that are needed to enhance the NSDI.Recognition of the NSDI was advanced significantly by three factors:Executive Order 12906 (April 11, 1994), FGDC leadership at the cabinetlevel, and policy-level participation in the FGDC by federal agencies.The executive order contains a series of

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A DATA FOUNDATION FOR THE NATIONAL SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE challenges for the FGDC. For instance, the development of a spatialdata clearinghouse is much needed, as is further work on standards.Without such activities, the ability to bring diverse data sets togetheris severely impaired. The MSC believes this report will be usefulin clarifying some of the issues related to establishment of thefoundation and spatial data framework for the nation.