ArRiyadh Development Authority

Spatial Data Infrastructure Pilot

The ArRiyadh Development Authority wanted to embark on a large spatial data infrastructure (SDI) initiative for the City of Riyadh, with expanded areas of coverage and expanded agencies and data types.

Galdos proposed a pilot project to demonstrate that key geographic data resources could be updated and shared across multiple agencies. The objective of the pilot project was to gain operational experience in distributed data update and information sharing.

The Challenge

The High Commission for the Development of Riyadh sets forth policies for the city’s development formulated by its executive branch, the Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA). ADA is responsible for the socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental development of the city, and devises plans and procedures to improve the standard of services and facilities provided for city residents.

Both the population and the land area of Riyadh continue to expand, applying increasing pressure on the city’s infrastructural networks and spatial capacity. Facing these challenges, ADA developed a Metropolitan Development Strategy, which contained a detailed long-term vision for the city’s future as well as strategic plans and an implementation program for its shorter-term goals.

Working with ADA, a number of the agencies responsible for delivering services to the city were looking for ways in which data could be shared across multiple agencies with each agency maintaining control of its own source data. Five agencies participated in Phase 1 of the project, including ADA, Saudi Telecom Company, Riyadh Water, Saudi Post, and Riyadh Amana.

Data sharing was complicated because there was no common data model for representing the shared data, and because changes and updates to data need to be propagated to all other agencies who shared that data. Lack of operational experience with distributed information management at the enterprise level further complicated the data sharing.

The Solution

Galdos Systems used its many years of experience with data sharing and enterprise information systems, and its pioneering work with managing geographic data, to work with ADA and the agencies involved in the project to execute a pilot project. Galdos developed the solution using the INtune SDI Framework.

Data Sharing and Change Notification

For the purposes of the project, the participants decided that all data changes should be propagated to all of the participants. Each participant had their own copy of the shared data, and any changes at each site were then propagated to all of the others. Participants also had the ability to send observations on one another’s data, validate those observations for themselves, and share any resulting updates with the other subscribers.

Taking a master data management approach, the solution incorporated a two-tier database structure for each agency. The lower tier contained an agencies proprietary data, while the upper tier contained the common, shared data together with the observations about the data provided by any of the other participating agencies.

The pilot project included some specific functional and architectural requirements. Database changes needed to be detected automatically, and notification of updates and other changes in the participant databases needed to be asynchronous. ADA and the participating agencies also wanted the solution to be based on web services so that data could be exchanged over the Internet, and so that the data could be displayed on a map in a browser window.

Web Feature Data visualized in Google Earth

Web Feature Data visualized in Google Earth

Extensible Publication and Subscription

The project demonstrated that data changes published by any participant could be automatically propagated to any subscriber in the community.

Data Flow in a Peer-to-Peer Network

The system provides a common publication/subscription capability for geographic data that was typically stored and managed using either ESRI ArcGIS Server/SDE or Intergraph GeoMedia with either Oracle Spatial or MSSQL databases. The system could be extended to other platforms as required.

The Outcome

The pilot project successfully allowed the participants to see how they could share with other agencies while maintaining control over their own data. Participants were also able to see how they could use observations on each other’s data to notify each other of things such as inaccuracies or incompleteness in the data, and other operational activities affecting data controlled by another agency.

The solution required little or no changes to the participant’s databases or client side tools. Each organization was able to continue to operate with minimal direct interaction with the other participants, while still being assured of having the most up-to-date data.

The participating agencies were able to gain experience in this type of information sharing and collaboration, which will be utilized in future SDI development. The agencies also had the opportunity to use the pilot system during the field testing period, before making the decision whether to move forward towards full operational deployment.