World Bank SDI Report - Emerging SDI Environment

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This article is a part of World Bank SDI Report.



Over the past two decades, the pace of technology development for the capture, management and application of geographic information has become increasingly rapid. The use and application of spatial data and consequently SDI is therefore inherently subject to rapid evolution and ongoing development as new technologies and their applications emerge. Spatial data has become increasingly important to governments and as location-aware technologies develop and subsequently offer opportunities for new economic, social and environmental policy initiatives. Location-based data has also become much more accessible to citizens, first via web-based maps and in the form of map-mash-ups on personal computers and know even more ubiquitously on mobile smart phones which through the use of network positioning and GPS also allow users to automatically locate where they are on the displayed maps[1].

Critically, the generation and consequently the ownership and cost of geographic information has also experienced a fundamental shift in the past decade. It is rapidly evolving from a high-cost top-down situation where most geographic data was surveyor by, or for, governmental agencies which held the copyright to the data and controlled access and use through licensing and charges to a bottom-up, individual and commercially driven model where map data is freely shared between communities of users or made accessible for free or at very low cost as a means of attracting users to visit commercial sites where the profits are generated from advertising.. This fundamental shift - towards 'crowd-sourced' data and freely distributed commercial data– is now impacting on the way in which even Government geographic information and spatial data is captured, managed, distributed and utilized and will have subsequent impacts on the future development, implementation and application of SDI[2].

This chapter considers some of these technological and institutional trends that are shaping SDI development and also emerging technological advances in geospatial technologies that may impact upon future SDI development[3]. The current and future SDI trends discussed in this chapter are particularly pertinent to the implementation and development of SDI in developing countries. Section 1.2.2 in Chapter 1 outlined the relevance of SDI to the Millennium Development Goals. Similarly, the concluding section of this chapter will discuss the ways in which some of the drivers and trends discussed in this section might impact on SDI in developing countries and how developing countries might take advantage of such developments in their application of SDI.

SDI Past and Present: Trends and Drivers

The use of geographic information in the digital age has evolved from being primarily seen as a data source for a small number of government ministries to being the basis of a multitude of local, national and global applications. This has been brought about by both changes in the institutional and organizational environment - and correspondingly an expansion of the number and type of users of geographical information – and, changes in the technical environment through which geographical data is processed and mediated. The following two sections, 5.2.1 and 5.2.2 provide a summary and review of the current institutional and technical trends (respectively) in global SDI development.

Institutional Trends and Business Matters in SDI

A Shift from National Mapping Agencies

In the last 20 years there has been a shift in SDI leadership from national mapping agencies to user agencies, often to a national level-land administration agency or environmental agency. In general - that is from a data supplier to data users - users have taken the helm (Coppock and Helm, 1991)[4].

A Move to Large Land Agencies

Indeed in that same 20 years there has been a related and growing trend to merge all land functions into the one over-arching land ministry. or other form of governmental body. Such a body then, among other tasks, drives or promotes SDI in many of those countries (Mugnier, 2006)[5]. A paper in the book 'SDI Convergence', spoke of the need for 'cooperation' between agencies. The paper presented no choice that at least for the benefit of the business processes of those agencies, SDI must be implemented or improvements to existing SDI made. The theory may be correct, but this does not correspond to the practice which is that in many or most countries individual departments have adopted their own procedures and approaches to data capture and management. Historically it has also been the case that many governmental bodies have been very protective of "their" data and been reluctant to invest in making that data easily discoverable by, accessible to or interoperable with even other sections or levels of government.

It is an observation that SDI lead groups in a federal ministry develop differently from non-federal led SDI's. he federal level takes responsibility for policy development and facilitates change. At the state and local government agency level of the focus is more on the implementation and development of GIS and geo-applications within the framework of the national SDI.

Governments Take the Lead in SDI

In several countries in the last 10 years, governments have taken a strong role in SDI. They have stepped-up and provided legislation, leadership and direction. Particular examples are Sweden, Netherlands, New Zealand, and South Korea. In the EU, the Inspire Directive in 2007 required all 27 member countries to pass Inspire compliant legislation. Governments, at a high level, are therefore directing that SDI, often including e-Government provisions, are defined and implemented and that related policy measures are put in place to capture the full benefits from cooperation in geo-spatial information access and re-use of public sector information. The links between central and local governments are particularly recognized in this context. Other countries with SDI laws include South Africa and Croatia. Often SDI voluntary efforts have not worked or were taking too long. In pursuing the development of SDIs, multi-ministry and central and local government level SDI councils have been formed, multi-year programmes developed, targets set and reporting dates established.

Geospatial (Geodata) Strategies Introduced

Starting in Victoria, in the early 1990s the Australian state government found the need for a Victorian Geospatial Information Strategy Several other jurisdictions have followed suit (e.g. Sweden 2006, and New Zealand 2005-7). Such geospatial or geodata strategies often provide for the principles, goals and governance structure to achieve the geospatial vision that is an integral aspect of SDI. They aim to define the approach needed to ensure such geospatial information infrastructure meets the ongoing business needs of government at all levels, and provide the framework for the leadership and direction needed for managing geospatial information. The aims include: to optimize the collective benefit from public investment in geospatial infrastructure; ensure quality fundamental (i.e. priority) geospatial data are available to all, e.g. Sweden (2006-2009) geodata strategy; New Zealand (2005) geospatial data strategy, as well as in Belgium, Utah state, USA and Senegal. It is clear that the SDI paradigm as implemented in several countries, however, does not catch all of the geospatial requirements needed for Government policy[6].

Improving Government Service Provision Response Times

The imperative of both central and local governments trying to give citizens more timely approvals to development and environment project applications, in the 1980s led local government professional officers to harness GIS to help speed up service delivery. This was especially pertinent for developments in the central business districts; commercial and industrial districts that have complex environmental requirements apart from diverse zoning demands coupled with building height restrictions. Typically governments give themselves 60 days to issue or refuse a construction permit approval or otherwise. The issue was that in most cases they could not achieve those approval times (indeed more often a one year timeframe is the case) and both the private sector developers and mayors have demanded that timeframes be respected. An early case was in Sydney in the 1980s when, after completing business process improvement studies, computerization and the introduction of GIS in support, the City Council achieved the approval times and a more considered result.

Doing Business' Ratings Impact on GIS/SDI

The International Finance Corporation (IFC, a unit of the World Bank) has been undertaking "Doing Business" studies worldwide and since 2003 has widely published annual rankings for 183 countries (see Methods to improve the situation often include the use of GIS and SDI. These "doing business" indices and rankings studies started in 2003 and today include 183 economies including higher income countries and emerging economies (countries). They are based on 9 indicators of the ease of doing business including the time and cost to meet government requirements in starting and operating a business, trading across borders, paying taxes, registering properties, construction permitting, enforcing contracts, obtaining credit and protecting investors. Some means of improving service involve computerization of systems, integration and SDI. Countries are competing for investors' funds and the resulting new jobs created from private sector investors (domestic and international) to allow their own private sector to function more efficiently[7]. Many countries adopt the standard 'doing business' solutions to improvements and many succeed using methods such as: one stop shops, relaxing or dropping regulations, lowering fees and taxes, undertaking business processing improvements and electronic registration and cadastre systems. Indeed November 4, 2010 saw the release by IFC of the 2011 rankings worldwide. Subsequently, the Internet as well as the business press is replete with countries proclaiming success in climbing up the rankings and being the most business friendly country in its region[8].

Large Investments in Land Administration Including SDI

In the last 30 years multi-lateral banks and bi-lateral donor agencies have supported government land administration improvement programs in over 60 countries. In the Europe and Central Asia region alone there have been 39 land administration projects in 22 countries worth $1.2 billion. Worldwide the World Bank has supported an estimated $ 1.95 billion in 174 land related projects between 1980 and 2009. This is to allow countries to upgrade their land administration systems including mapping. The finance involved is significant. Adlington (2010)[9] reports that the works in Europe and Central Asia are the greatest land reform in history. At the technical level these efforts have produced large amounts of geographical information and multiple GIS systems and as a second stage, SDI development notably in Russia, Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Poland, Turkey, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia is underway. In Turkey alone in the decade 2004 to 2014 they plan to invest $700 million in GI, GIS, GPS (CORS) titling- and SDI development[10].

Street Addressing and Building Numbering Programs

In many countries home and business residences do not have formal street addresses or recognized street names. Subsequently, the provision of local government services as well as emergency services is compromised, given the obvious difficulties presented in locating addresses requiring assistance. This also presents problems for the planning, co-ordination and delivery of local government services. Of course cell phone use has helped in emergencies which can be used to obtain directions and now cell phones can be tracked though with varying positional accuracy. In Spain businesses and families have started giving their GPS coordinates to business associates and friends to help them find their locations. Emergency mapping is another area of development: In the USA, in the 1980s and 1990s, many state governments made available funds for large scale emergency mapping to local governments (on application) on the condition that the local governments adopt all the conditions as listed in the state wide 'SDI' rulebook equivalent. Failure to adopt the rules could mean the withdrawal of funding. Improvements involve large scale mapping and GIS for emergency calls (911 services)[11]. Street addressing initiatives are widely applicable in other parts of the world.

SDI Technology Trends

Web-based Applications

Web-based geospatial applications have developed massively over recent years. Firms such as Amazon and Google provide web based services using 'cloud computing' on a 'pay for use' basis which means the user no longer needs to maintain expensive computing and storage facilities[12]. These web applications and tools are targeted at allowing government departments and small companies to start operations without investing in large scale GIS software/hardware purchases. ESRI, Intergraph and others offer GIS servers (online GIS services) as well as ready-to-use 2D and even 3D maps. Intergraph has also developed SDI compliant services focusing particularly on the European INSPIRE SDI requirements.

However, the challenge for such on-line services in some locations is provision and availability of high band-width Internet. This kind of service also necessitates the need for a constant electricity supply, which for many developing countries is a very real issue. Cloud computing also means the storage of most data off-site or even off-shore in another country. Consequently, cost-benefit studies should be undertaken in conjunction with review of security and privacy issues.

Free and Open Source Software and Data

Free open source software for GIS, SDI and DBMS applications is now available with no annual license fees and where new versions are regularly produced. Such software is increasingly robust and well supported and now widely used by many large-scale organizations[13]. For both free and open source Software (FOSS) and proprietary software commercial training, support and maintenance services can be purchased from specialist consultancy and service providers. The network of support organizations for proprietary software has traditionally been stronger than for FOSS but depending on the package this is no longer necessarily the case. A review of what training and support, both via the web and from on-site services needs to be a consideration in the selection of the specific software chosen irrespective of whether the software is FOSS or proprietary. Some countries have made policy decisions to use open source software nationwide (e.g. Ghana) along with the decision to foster local ICT service companies to become skilled in the use, maintenance and training in such software.

Open Source Data.

The impact of Google and Miocrosoft in making map data accessible to the general user at only the cost of the computing resources needed to download and operate the software and data together with the advent of free mapping from Crowd-Sourced or Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) based organizations such as Open Street Map[14] has been a major factor in the growth in geographic and location-based services both at the institutional and individual level. SDIs have typically been based on the premise that the main data sources will be the authoritative spatial databases and mapping of a country's National Mapping and Charting Agencies. This is because this data is the authorized or acknowledged source of data for government applications and because the criteria by which it was collected and quality controlled will usually be documented and understood through historic usage. However, the cost of such "authoritative" data can be prohibitive even for government departments as many countries have traditionally applied inter-departmental charging policies. In contrast, access to significant amounts of the same data can often be achieved through the Google Maps and Microsoft Bing web sites as these companies license large amounts of national mapping which they supplement with imagery and other sources of location-based data. However, although access is free to such map data there remain copyright and licensing restrictions and so other web services have developed which rely on the up-loading of map data collected by individuals or donated by organizations for completely free and unrestricted use by third parties. One of the most comprehensive of such free mapping web sites is that of Open Street Map (see [1]). An example of the Open Street Map for port-au-Prince, Republic of Haiti is illustrated in Figure 6.1.

Both authoritative and crowd-sourced mapping have their strengths and weaknesses and are best used in conjunction. This synergistic approach to data sourcing for SDI is discussed in more detail in in Jackson et al. (2010) and in the video presentation Jackson (2011)[15].

It is clear that governments, NGOs and private users will take advantage of these new alternatives for creating, accessing and even maintaining maps[16]. An example of this is in Canada, where a city negotiated with Google to take over the city's orthophoto map coverage of the city for the wider use, display, and sale to civil society as well as the parastatals as the base map of the city SDI.

Figure 6.1 Example of Open Street Map for Port-au-Prince, Republic of Haiti.

In October 2010, with reference to maps created from crowdsourced data, Tim Kelly of InfoDev stated: "Such tools have been used to create maps in a matter of hours using crowdsourcing techniques. As an example, a map of Port au Prince, Haiti was put together following the January 2010 earthquake, with real-time updates from relief workers on the ground and support from volunteers at a Random Hacks of Kindness[17] event taking place in the USA and networked around the world. Such bottom-up mapping efforts, based on open source platforms, are becoming increasingly popular, such as MapKibera[18] in Kenya or the World Bank supported GeoNode[19] project"[20].

As detailed by Ian Masser (2009: 216)[21], "The launch of Google Earth in June 2005 brought many of the elements of the GeoWeb 2.0 within reach of millions of users. Google Earth combined the powerful search engines developed by Google with the ability to zoom rapidly in or out from space to the neighbourhood street level. It also created new opportunities for these users to overlay their own spatial data on the top of Google Earth's background imagery. As Butler (2006) pointed out in an article in the science journal Nature: 'By offering researchers (note by the Team--- 'and civil society') an easy way into GIS software, Google Earth and other virtual globes are set to go beyond representing the world, and start changing it … For this reason they must be regarded as 'disruptive technologies' that are transforming the GIS industry in ways that the market does not expect" (776)[22].

Disaster Management and Mitigation Projects

GIS and SDI are being used for disaster management and mitigation projects and purposes with increasing frequency. This involves both natural and manmade disasters (e.g., tsunami and oil spills). Disaster response and emergency management both demand prior preparation and the ready availability of diverse datasets. 'Before' and 'after' imagery is also required. In November 2010, the newly elected President of GSDI Association Abbas Rajabifard stated that disaster information matters are 'location' critical hence both GIS and SDI are necessary. Such projects are becoming more important for development agencies: for example in the 20 years between 1984 and 2005 it accounted for nearly 10% of World Bank lending (i.e. $26.3 billion). A recent corresponding project is the 'Istanbul Seismic Risk Mitigation and Emergency Preparedness Project (ISMEP)' started in 2006 to run for 8 years between Republic of Turkey, World Bank, Istanbul city and the European Investment Bank. The total loan amount of this Project is 160 million Euros. This Project closely concerns residents of Istanbul and all public institutions and it is conducted by Governorship of Istanbul Special Provincial Project Coordination Unit. It includes city wide mapping, an emergency management information system development and operation, a new insurance scheme, and public building strengthening[23].

Cities and Municipalities Need SDI

It is clear that in the last 15 years cities have started to bring their agencies and those of central government departments into line, to share information thus to allow the city to grow and become more efficient. This is important as cities often generate a significant percentage of the national GDP: sometimes 30-40% of the total. Of course often it is the mayor of the city that is the driving force for bringing agencies together using a SDI approach, e.g. Amman, Jordan. Also with success in the capital, the capital model can be shared with the secondary cities.

Use of space imagery for SDI

The availability and resolution of remote sensing imagery from space based satellites and airborne sensors have improved dramatically. This data is a valuable resource for SDI. However, both the cost of acquisition and technical interoperability issues limit its use. It has been shown that imagery can be successfully used as a backdrop for GIS data layers and for providing some GIS layers that are not readily available. Some of the issues related to space imagery for SDI include data latency, accuracy and format interoperability. More imagery data is becoming available for a reasonable cost and SDI must therefore take into consideration use of imagery and have the technology in place to collect, store and present imagery at various resolutions and in an interoperable manner.


In summary we see that technology change is having a radical impact on the collection of geographic data, on the means to manage and analyse it and particularly on the ability of organizations to access and use this data at an affordable cost. However, the realization of these benefits in terms of actual deployment and application for social, economic and environmental benefit rely on (i) the ease of discovery of what data exists, (ii) the harmonization of disparately collected and stored data sources so that the data can be used together in a compatible manner, (iii) for technical interoperability of the software that is used to process the collective data sources and (iv) for infrastructural and policy harmonization to remove organizational and institutional obstacles that might complicate, delay or increase costs for the application of the resulting products and services. The technical changes described largely facilitate these objectives which are at the heart of SDI policy. However, as also observed the very pace of technology can and has also introduced disruptive change and led to a potential schism between the more mature and developed top-down institutional approach to SDI. This arises from the more recent trends linked to crowd-sourcing, social networks and the influence of smart-phone technology which integrates mobile communications, broad-band Internet connectivity, positioning and tracking and high-resolution photographs but as yet without the standards and infrastructure needed to ensure full-interoperability or quality control.

SDI Futures

Future Trends in SDI: The Global Perspective

Niels Bohr, the Danish Nobel winning Physicist, is quoted as saying that "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future"[24] and this certainly seems to apply to the future trends in SDI. It is only in 2004 that the Social networking site Facebook was launched, 2005 that Google Maps and Google Earth were launched and 2006 that the Open Street Map Foundation was established and yet these are each part of everyday life for millions of people globally. Technology trends which may impact on the future of SDI could be equally dramatic and sudden influenced perhaps by developments in nanotechnology which might in turn revolutionise the development of sensors collecting information on the environment and on the activity of the world's citizens within it. Mobile telephony also continues to evolve rapidly and so the prospect of today's smart phones being a ubiquitous form of communication and data collection as well as a delivery platform for information and services seems probable and may well be supplemented by more advanced positioning, tracking and sensing devices. Intuitive communicating with these mobile devices in all contexts remains a challenge but real-time translation of languages, natural language recognition and many other related developments are possible.

Without being too futuristic it seems reasonable to predict that access to precisely mapped topographic data supplemented by photographic imagery of all areas of the globe will become available at or nearly free of charge from mobile devices. It also seems probable that crowd-sourcing developments will lead to more frequent up-date of location-referenced information especially where associated with mass-consumer activities in urban area. These changes imply a significant shift in the role of Government in the areas of topographic mapping and the provision of location-based information with a shift from Governments being the dominant supplier of data to industry, community and citizen-based suppliers operating through web-based service provision. This in turn has implications on how SDI should evolve and where research and standardisation activities should be focussed.

These trends are discussed further in

Long Term Perspectives: Brazil

Having considered the future of SDI development at a global level, in order to gauge the future of SDI development at a national scale and also from a developing country context - and therefore place these ideas in context - the SDI situation in Brazil can be examined. The following assessment of SDI development in a developing country context is taken from the [Brazil report].

Globally, current SDI-related initiatives share the vision of providing useful information to society, thus considering such information to be a "public good". Although most of the required legal framework for data publication is currently in place, some SDI creation initiatives seem to be politically held back by the lack of legislation that mandates the publication of non-sensitive data, such as, for example, the U.S.'s Freedom of Information Act. However, a promising bill on open access to public information (currently in the Brazilian Senate, after being passed by the House in April 2010), presents an opportunity to change this situation[25]. The bill applies to every branch of government (federal, state, municipal) along with non-profit private entities that receive public funding.

Curiously, there is little concern as to the assessment of the impact of SDIs. Beyond requirements towards recording the number of accesses, current projects carry no special provision towards dimensioning the demand for spatial data and its rate of growth more accurately. The lack of such information can lead either to over- or underspecified computational infrastructures. On a financial note, information producers have the intent of supporting the costs of SDI creation and maintenance and there is no foreseeable intention of charging for access. On the contrary, some initiatives, including INDE, specifically require open and free data access. Some projects count on World Bank financing for starting up and promise a reasonable maintenance plan with their own resources. This is in line with older GIS initiatives in Brazil, most of which never charged for data. It also reflects in part the cooperative nature of some GIS initiatives, in which free spatial data interchange has been taking place since the early 1990s, covered by cooperation agreements and other legal instruments. This is a sensible perspective, since it simplified agreements and facilitated cooperation, but budgeting for data providers must be analyzed considering also the services rendered to other organizations and to the society.

The sustainability of SDI in a country where resources are relatively limited is an important issue. If geographic information is considered mission-critical for government agencies, then there is a stronger possibility of a sustainable SDI. In Brazil, because of the regional and global importance of the rainforest, environmental concerns seem to be an area which might lead to this path. For instance, environmental policy making requires a substantial amount of information, ranging from the scientific point of view (in many disciplines) to the experience of the local population. Scientists constantly gather data, perform analyses, and generate information and recommendations for policy makers. Wide access to that information is required, so that not only policy makers can decide on more solid grounds, but also the targets of policies can understand the reasons behind governmental action. Clear indicators of progress must be in place, so that the effectiveness of policies can be assessed. People in general must also be allowed to participate in a more direct and active manner, getting to know facts about the region, expressing themselves, and contributing to find solutions. In this scenario, it is evident that information must flow and connect as many people as possible. Although, in many aspects, this kind of arrangement exceeds the current concept of a traditional SDI, it has the potential not only to sustain an SDI initiative but also to expand it in many ways. Such an approach to SDI is different from the traditional practices, in which SDIs operate mainly as automated map distribution systems. This broader SDI would be an enabler for understanding space and communicating the activities happening in those spaces. The SDI would not only deliver general-purpose maps, but disseminate spatial data to support sustainable development policies: It is necessary to go beyond SDI to integrate science and communities in the effort of creating, enforcing, assessing and revising environmental policies. This kind of SDI is one of the ways of making the Brazilian SDI initiative sustainable in the long run and the current technology trends are likely to facilitate this evolution.

Since access to potentially large volumes of data online requires a broadband Internet connection, information infrastructure can present a major challenge for developing countries. In Brazil, a plan has been issued by the government to pursue rapid improvements in that direction (MC 2010), but so far concrete action has not been taken. In discussions with potential SDI users, some expressed concerns on their capacity to hire fast enough Internet connections and feel a backup plan involving data replication would make for the optimum provision. The potential impact of networking limitations on SDI usage remains to be seen.

While complaints on the availability of technical personnel appear infrequent, current Brazilian legislation on public sector recruitment is very strict and could prove a hindrance to the necessary expansion of technical staff. This is of particular importance to information providers that do not have strong IT support, either internal or from a sister organization. Regardless of this potential limitation, the private market for IT professionals in Brazil is on the rise, with salaries to reflect demand, which may indicate the need for data publishers to hire specialized IT services.

In Brazil, the need for better coordination among governmental agencies in charge of SDI development and e-government initiatives is an issue. For instance, there is currently no mention of INDE or public geographic information in the Brazilian e-government program, neither does INDE's portal mention e-government initiatives. Although it is understandable that there has been little time to promote such integration, it a natural and necessary step for both initiatives, especially when the bill on information access is passed in Congress.

As established by INDE's creation decree, in Brazil, the participation of federal institutions is mandatory. However, penalties for noncompliance are non-existent, thus rendering participation optional. Nevertheless, the participation of other federal geographic information providers should highlight the need for stakeholders to be motivated to participate, thus negating the need for enforcement. The forthcoming legislation on information access should provide a valuable incentive, considering that SDI is arguably one of the best ways to disseminate geographic data on a large scale. Furthermore, the existence of INDE may render other alternatives less interesting or economically less viable. In that respect, there is reason to believe that INDE may be called upon to provide better visibility for the efforts of participant institutions, as a way to generate political return for their efforts.

With the current availability of free spatial data access, such as Google Maps/Earth, Bing Maps, Yahoo!Maps and OpenStreetMap, the need for SDIs, other than an organized format for public spatial information, is not immediately obvious. While public organizations have been winding down their [spatial] data collection initiatives, the opposite is true of private companies which have been roaming the world to collect and organize information that is offered to society at very little or no cost. Nevertheless, it is the combined availability of multiple data sources that empowers the user in selecting what is best for his or her intended application, thus enabling a "hyper" global GIS in which everyone can participate. In this way, volunteered geographic information (VGI) initiatives should be directly linked to SDIs, much in the spirit of current Web 2.0 trends. Citizens can contribute to maintain public data sources and society can benefit from the outcomes of this cooperative arrangement, which again reflects the spirit of SDI.

The developmental impact of such complex ICT systems to date has not been well the context of Brazil [As is now starting to happen at the cutting edge of mobile technology [?], perhaps the breakthrough moment will come when complex GIS databases can be readily and cheaply accessed from simple devices, such as GPS-equipped mobile handsets, which would bring the power of information directly to the fingertips of end-users.

SDI Trends and Developing Countries

To understand SDI drivers and trends in a developing country context, this section will first consider the drivers and trends for SDI in Jordan and how these might impact on its development. Following on from the example of Jordan, this section will consider the opportunities for developing countries more widely and how they might take advantage of current and future SDI trends in the context of the drivers and trends discussed above.

Drivers and Trends: Jordan

In Jordan, there are a number of global drivers and trends that will impact the development and use of the Jordanian SDI. These include:

  • New methods of communication: an SDI is really the integration of two new technologies that are already or are becoming mainstream. These technologies are the Internet and digitized maps. The use and benefits of these two combined technologies will help Jordanian agencies communicate spatially.
  • Social changes: civil society in Jordan and elsewhere is changing in that it is demanding more information and accountability from its government. The Jordanian SDI will help the Government of Jordan provide timely and accurate information to the population.
  • The effect of globalization: as with the internal social changes in Jordan, external pressures exist from its neighbouring countries to share and exchange data (particularly environmental data) for their edification and protection. This kind of data sharing was a significant driver for the INSPIRE initiative in Europe. The Jordanian SDI will allow true geospatial interoperability at a local, national, regional and global scale.
  • Institutional transformation: there is no better way to transform a bureaucracy than to give it a new mandate or project. This allows organizations to grow and transition to support the new requirement. The Jordanian SDI will allow several Jordanian governmental organizations to change their service delivery model.
  • Business opportunities: as the Jordanian SDI develops and becomes another information tool, this will spur entrepreneurial opportunities through the provision of computers, computer services, communications services, Internet equipment and services and consulting. New well paying positions will be created with associated economic spinoffs.
  • Institutional alignment: the development of the JSDI will compel cooperation between the MDAs and help break down some of the government "solos". Through cooperation and sharing, the MDAs will be able to accomplish much more than they could individually.
  • Data availability: More and more countries are moving to a model where government data, including geospatial data are provided for free and without use restrictions. This allows the SDI in the country to make available and share information much more easily. Entrepreneurs can then take this government data and make new products or services for economic benefit.

Opportunities for Developing Countries

The potential uses of SDI development for developing countries can be illustrated through various social and environmental issues in Brazil:

Brazilian Society

Between 1995 and 2008, i.e., since the onset of greater economic stability, 12.8 million Brazilians were lifted from absolute poverty (per capita monthly income of under half the national minimum wage), thus reducing this indicator from 43.4% to 28.8% of the population during that period. Likewise, extreme poverty (per capita monthly income of under a quarter of the minimum wage) was overcome by 13.1 million people, reducing the national indicator from 20.9% in 1995 to 10.5% in 2008 (IPEA 2010)[26]. Most of these improvements took place in the period 2003 to 2008 in which macroeconomic conditions were more favourable.

Brazil has yet to overcome many development hurdles. The illiteracy rate for instance, is 10% (IBGE 2010)[27] and functional illiteracy reaches 21.6%. Average schooling time among people over 10 years old is 6.9 years (Ibid.). In 2008, 30.1% of the population had 11 years or more of formal education, 17.0% between 8 and 10 years, and the remaining 52.7% 7 years or less. Total government expenditure on education is 4.1% of the GDP (Ibid.).

Health care in Brazil is organized around a unified health system (Sistema Único de Saúde - Unified Health System - SUS) which ranges from everyday services up to high-cost and high-complexity procedures, such as organ transplants. The health system is managed primarily by municipal governments, with financial support and technical cooperation from state and federal governments. In spite of its universality and coverage, the public health system is seen as insufficient and of low-quality. As a result, approximately 43.2 million Brazilians (22.6% of the population) pay for some kind of private health plan or insurance, and another 13.3 million pay for dental insurance (ANS 2010)[28]. The public health care system maintains major programs dedicated to epidemiology, vaccination, health supplies and drugs, health education and formation of professionals, and emergency medicine. Health care takes up 4.8% of the GDP in governmental expenditure (IBGE 2010)[29].


More than half of Brazil's territory is covered in forest which includes the world's largest rainforest, the Amazon. Intensive enforcement of environmental laws and policies has managed to reduce the rhythm of deforestation of the Amazon, from over 27,700 km2 in 2004 to less than 7,500 km2 in 2009 (INPE 2010)[30]. The country has declared a total of 18.7% of its territory as protected areas (IBGE 2010)[31]. Furthermore, 12.4% of the territory is delimited as [indigenous] Indian reservations (FUNAI 2010)[32].

As to greenhouse gas emissions, Brazil has received adverse media attention due to forest burnouts (rather than for example emissions from vehicles, power plants or industry). Of course, reducing the pace of deforestation will also contribute to the reduction of emissions and as a result Brazil is active in initiatives such as REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation). In the 2009 Copenhagen climate change conference, Brazil committed to a reduction of 36.1% to 38.9% of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. That commitment implies an 80% reduction of deforestation in the Amazon and a further 40% reduction of the deforestation of the Cerrado, the savannah-type vegetation found in central Brazil.

Brazil holds 12% of the world's surface freshwater supplies (ANA 2007), and has several important basins besides the Amazon. However, the Northeast region is prone to drought, while flooding and intense rainfall events pose a frequent threat to southern and south-eastern states. Furthermore, there is intensive pressure on water resources in some regions, in which there are demands from irrigation, human consumption and energy generation.


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  6. For example, see the Sweden Geodata Strategy in World Bank SDI Report - Worldwide SDI Development and Outreach#Sweden
  7. Extract from a St. Lucia Tourist Journal Issues 2, 2010 “Expand your business horizons – Invest in St. Lucia” “Ranked #1 in the Caribbean & Latin America for ease of doing business” by IFC and World Bank Doing Business 2009; also ‘Caribbean 360’; November 5, 2010, “Grenada was among the 10 economies worldwide that most improved their business environment in the past year, according to ‘Doing Business 2011: Making a Difference for Entrepreneur’s, the eighth in a series of annual reports published by IFC and the World Bank”,
  8. IFC, Doing Business, 2010. also tables
  10. See;
  11. See Farvacque-Vitkovic, Catherine; Godin, Lucien; et al, ‘Street Addressing and the Management of Cities,’ 2005, pp.265. Publisher: World Bank
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  16. Jan-Mar 2010 (page 6).
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  32. FUNAI (2010). As Terras Indígenas, Fundação Nacional do Índio (FUNAI).
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