Spatial Data Infrastructures

A Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) is a framework that provides the components to enable publication of and subscription to sensor, image, geospatial, non-geospatial, and many other types of data, in a manner which is non-obtrusive and which can scale to hundreds or thousands of database or application nodes. The framework provides the foundation for collaborative infrastructures that can be deployed at the urban level, ensuring that data is obtained closest to the source, and that it is current, accurate, and in context.

Why Spatial Data Infrastructures?

Thinking about the “why” of an SDI helps in understanding what it is and what functions it performs. There are many reasons why governments and the private sector might want to invest in and build an SDI. These include:

  • enabling a local, regional, national or even a planetary accounting system on the state of the environment, by making visible the distribution and temporal variation in key environmental parameters from carbon emissions to deforestation
  • enabling the local, regional, national or even planetary response to emergency events whether caused by people or natural forces
  • enabling the more efficient interaction of corporations, government and citizens in the collaborative (and competitive) development of the built environment, from urban construction to mining, agriculture and energy production
  • providing a vehicle by which government can meaningfully interact with its citizens at all levels on planned projects, programs and policies, enabling both the presentation of what is planned, and direct feedback from the citizenry

Uses of Spatial Data Infrastructures

SDIs provide a solution for the problem of every agency, municipality, and government department having a silo of data that isn’t, or can’t be, shared. Differences in data models are often at the root of interoperability barriers. Having an SDI that includes built-in transformations between a shared model and individual data models goes a long way towards overcoming such issues. SDIs also allow data sharing policies to be consistently applied, and improve the use and effective management of spatial data. Such initiatives can yield significant benefits in improved organization and better governance of urban infrastructure.

Galdos delivered a proof-of-concept project and a testbed deployment of an SDI to manage and share updates to a shared base map of the City of Riyadh. Galdos deployed an SDI network with a Data Synchronization Framework to connect participant databases to each other in order to manage a common base map. When updates were made to feature data shared by all the agencies, the updates were automatically propagated to the other participants, maintaining the currency of the data across all the databases.

Abu Dhabi is another city at the forefront of leveraging digital information for urban planning and management. The Municipality of Abu Dhabi City is investigating the creation of a three-dimensional model of the city.

Each solution has focused on the realization of different benefits, such as geospatial information sharing, and managing and leveraging information to improve urban development management.