National Spatial Data Infrastructure
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A spatial data infrastructure (SDI) is a data infrastructure implementing a framework of geographic data, metadata, users and tools that are interactively connected in order to use spatial data in an efficient and flexible way. Another definition is "the technology, policies, standards, human resources, and related activities necessary to acquire, process, distribute, use, maintain, and preserve spatial data".[1]

A further definition is given in Kuhn (2005):[2] "An SDI is a coordinated series of agreements on technology standards, institutional arrangements, and policies that enable the discovery and use of geospatial information by users and for purposes other than those it was created for."


Some of the main principles are that data and metadata should not be managed centrally, but by the data originator and/or owner, and that tools and services connect via computer networks to the various sources.[3] A GIS is often the platform for deploying an individual node within an SDI. To achieve these objectives, good coordination between all the actors is necessary and the definition of standards is very important.

Due to its nature (size, cost, number of t-related. An example of an existing SDI, since 2002, is the NSDI created by the OMB Circular A-16 in the United States. At the European side, since 2007, the INSPIRE is a European Commission initiative to build a European SDI beyond national boundaries and ultimately the United Nations Spatial Data Infrastructure (UNSDI) will do the same for over 30 UN Funds, Programmes, Specialized Agencies and member countries.

Software components

An SDI should enable the discovery and delivery of spatial data from a data repository, via a spatial service provider, to a user. As mentioned earlier it is often wished that the data provider is able to update spatial data stored in a repository. Hence, the basic software components of an SDI are:[3]

  • Software client - to display, query, and analyse spatial data (this could be a browser or a desktop GIS)
  • Catalogue service - for the discovery, browsing, and querying of metadata or spatial services, spatial datasets and other resources
  • Spatial data service - allowing the delivery of the data via the Internet
  • Processing services - such as datum and projection transformations, or the transformation of cadastral survey observations and owner requests into Cadastral documentation
  • (Spatial) data repository - to store data, e.g., a spatial database
  • GIS software (client or desktop) - to create and update spatial data

Besides these software components, a range of (international) technical standards are necessary that allow interaction between the different software components.[3][4] Among those are geospatial standards defined by the Open Geospatial Consortium (e.g., OGC WMS, WFS, GML, etc.) and ISO (e.g., ISO 19115) for the delivery of maps, vector and raster data, but also data format and internet transfer standards by W3C consortium.

National spatial data infrastructures

List by country or administrative zone. It is not complete, is a sample of NSDIs with stable official website.

See also

External links

SDI-related journals

SDI-related books

SDI software

  • geOrchestra is a free, modular and interoperable Spatial Data Infrastructure software that includes other software like GeoNetwork, GeoServer, GeoWebCache,...,
  • GeoNetwork is a free and open source (FOSS) cataloging application for spatially referenced resources,
  • GeoNode is a web-based application and platform for developing geospatial information systems (GIS) and for deploying spatial data infrastructures (SDI),
  • OpenSDI includes Open Source components like GeoServer and GeoNetwork,
  • easySDI is a complete web-based platform for deploying any geoportal.
  • Geoportal Server is an open source solution for building SDI models where a central SDI node is populated with content from distributed nodes, as well as SDI models where each node participates equally in a federated mode. It requires a closed-source solution to operate.


  1. ^ The White House, Office of Management and Budget (2002) Circular No. A-16 Revised, August 19, 2002
  2. ^ Kuhn, W. (2005) presentation "Introduction to Spatial Data Infrastructures". Presentation held on March 14, 2005.
  3. ^ a b c Steiniger, S., and Hunter, A.J.S. (2012) preprint "Free and open source GIS software for building a spatial data infrastructure". In E. Bocher and M. Neteler (eds): Geospatial Free and Open Source Software in the 21st Century: Proceedings of the first Open-Source Geospatial Research Symposium, 2009, LNG&C, Springer, Heidelberg, pp. 247-261.
  4. ^ Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Organisation - The SDI Cookbook. link to cook book wiki

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