Print This Post

Government Service Bus Leapfrogs SDI

At Galdos, we have been saying for some time that Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) should be thought of in terms of wide area application integration (see “Spatial data infrastructure: So close, yet so far?”), a view we have backed up by developing INtune, a data service synchronization framework for heterogeneous spatial data services such as database and sensor applications (see In fact, INtune is developed on a message bus, and is perfect for using in the development of wide area applications, integrating the functions of multiple agencies. We have also talked about the need to think of SDI first in the context of urban environments, rather than at the national or even state level, a view we support through INtune by enabling automatic fine-grained update of 3D city models on wide area networks. We have even noted, as a natural consequence of the previous two statements, that SDI should really be just about information integration, and should just include geospatial information rather than making geospatial information the central focus. The notion of an Enterprise GIS, or a GIS Center, is especially off centre in this respect.

It is gratifying, therefore, to see that a slow shift is taking place in exactly these directions.

British Columbia has moved its SDI out of the spatial domain altogether; it is no longer GeoBC, but DataBC. GeoBC still exists, of course, but now it is more focused on the acquisition of geographic information, while the DataBC people are perfectly happy handling all types of data, including geospatial data. Yesser, the e-Government organization in Saudi Arabia, has gone even further, announcing plans to deploy a national government service bus through which they intend to provide access to government information and to enable the integration of information and applications across government departments, including those that deal with geospatial information. The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs (MOMRA) in Saudi Arabia has a waiting application in its plans to integrate the municipal databases across the country into a national municipal map, while the General Commission for Survey (GCS) could well leverage this infrastructure to build the national SDI. All very good signs.

In the past few years, we have seen many words that effectively mean (or ought to mean) the same thing. Geospatial Mashups. Digital Cities. Spatial Data Infrastructures. Information Infrastructures. Government Service Buses. GIS Centers. Enterprise GIS. Enterprise Business Information Systems. Everything is indeed connected, and the ability to build wide area applications – Pan-Enterprise Applications (the true intent of SDI from a way back) – is increasingly being recognized.