World Bank SDI Report - Executive Summary

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This article is a part of World Bank SDI Report.


This Manual has the objective of being a "how to" guide for developing countries on the development of a national strategy for spatial data infrastructure (SDI). It was carried out by infoDev, a global partnership program of the World Bank, and funded by the Korea Trust for ICT for Development, as part of a broader project on using GIS and SDI for monitoring development outcomes. Of particular relevance are the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight specific and measurable development targets defined by the United Nations in 2000: SDIs fundamentally facilitate the efficient measurement and geographic monitoring of most of the 60 indicators that have been defined for measuring the achievement of the MDGs.

The Manual builds on the existing literature for developing SDIs, most notably the 'SDI Cookbook' (Nebert, 2004)[1]. It is aimed at non-technical stakeholders and thus aims to provide a non-technical guide for policy makers and higher level administrators. It provides example case studies from a range of countries at different stages of development and identifies relevant issues and provides guidance regarding the establishment or evolution of a national SDI strategy in a developing country context. It is hoped that the Report will provide a useful tool to World Bank operatives as well as to managers in countries that are also seeking to improve their national capacity for sharing geographical data on a common spatial data infrastructure.

The Editors have received inputs from a range of studies including best practice case studies from Brazil and the Republic of Korea and technical assistance project reports from Uganda and Jordan. The InfodDev project team provided additional materials including outputs from a survey of existing World Bank programs that have an SDI component and from an opinion survey carried-out among members of the GSDI Association on the form that an SDI manual should take. The survey was carried out at the 12th Conference of the GSDI, in Singapore, October 2010.

We need geographic information to position, describe the physical extent and define the spatial relationships of natural and man-made phenomenon on the surface of the earth and their relationship to people and human activity. At a basic level, geographic data comprises location (where is it?), descriptive or attribute information (what is it?) and spatial relationships (how does it relate (spatially) to?). Geospatial data will vary over time and therefore the temporal dimension is an essential aspect of GIS.

Knowledge of the location and the extent of features enable distances to be measured, directions to be given, areas to be calculated. It allows ownership to be associated with locations, allows the distribution and flows of people and materials to be better understood. It provides an understanding of the terrain and a basis for planning and managing a wide range of governmental and commercial activities from national security to optimal routing of communication routes to the planning of environmental policies. It allows maps to be created. In short, it is vital for sound decision making and economic development. Also, the knowledge of the location of an activity allows it to be linked to other activities or features that occur in the same or nearby locations which may provide insights on trends and relationships between activities. This modelling and analysis of geographic data within a geographic information system (GIS) has become a powerful tool in understanding, planning and managing the world we live in.

The term "Spatial Data Infrastructure" (SDI) is often used to denote the relevant base collection of technologies, policies and institutional arrangements that facilitate the availability of and access to spatial data. The SDI provides a basis for spatial data discovery, evaluation, and application for users and providers within all levels of government, the commercial sector, the non-profit sector, academia and citizens in general. From this definition, it can be seen that the main emphasis in implementing an SDI lies in achieving interoperability across the spatial data holdings held by all stakeholders, facilitating access to this data and providing a harmonised environment in which resulting geographic information and intelligence may be applied to programmes and activities, such as monitoring development outcomes.

The structure of the Report is as follows:

The chapters are in turn backed-up by annexes with the detailed case study material and literature references. The electronic copies of the input documents in full can be found at www.infodev.org/GIS.

The text should be seen in the light of the Manual being an evolving document. The technology and practise for SDI is changing rapidly and the specific circumstances and requirements of each country vary widely. The text, as at October 2011, has many gaps and short-comings but, by incorporating the knowledge and wisdom of the many that we hope will read it and respond via the web interface, we believe it will rapidly evolve to become a valuable resource to seasoned professional and new starter alike.

Footnotes

  1. Nebert, D. D., Ed. (2004). Developing Spatial Data Infrastructures: The SDI Cookbook, GSDI-Technical Working Group, Available at http://www.gsdi.org/docs2004/Cookbook/cookbookV2.0.pdf
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