Hi Salvador. Sorry I missed the webinar, and thanks for posing such interesting questions.
There are a few issues facing Belize, but we are steadily getting pass them. For a long time an important challenge was having a champion for the NSDI. Many of us realized the importance and the need but we needed someone/organization who was committed to providing the leadership to take the necessary steps. The champion has arisen and we now have a policy in place to establish the NSDI.
Preparing our data so that they could be combined with disparate sources of data to support visualization and analysis has been another challenge. Often data sets were developed for specific uses and were undocumented so knowledge of what the data fields meant was not always clear. We have since adopted a metadata standard but we are still to properly document the data that we collect.
We need to provide training and support for data documentation and promote metadata documentation workflows among data creators and data managers. We also need to develop web based applications that help to workers and decision makers do their jobs more effectively and efficiently…. Some thoughts
Hi Marion, Sorry we missed you, but don't worry, many of the issues were already discussed in Belize. However, this forum is a good way we can communicate to exchange information about the evolution of the NSDI and discuss any aspects of it.
As you mention, the existence of a champion or leading institution is one of the key factors in NSDI success. You always need an institution that has enough political and technical leverage, or a tight combination of them. It is especially important in this initial phase in which the legal aspects of the SDI are in construction (hence the need of political leadership), as well as the base technological and data sharing aspects (for which technical leadership is also needed). Just calling the meetings, coordinating the logistics, making sure document drafts are revised, organizing activities and keeping the informal community together, these all take time, patience and resources :-) But I think you have a very good start.
Regarding data preparation and cataloging, I added some elements in the Webinar (compared to the basic training in Belize) that might be of interest to the NSDI. Especially important are the topics of data normalization (coding of places and administrative units, streets...) and the standards to create the Object or Feature Catalog, which is basically a normalized way to organize, name and document datasets, attributes, values, etc. Because you are now starting the task of defining standards for the NSDI, this is something you may want to take a look into, via the ISO 19110 and 19126 standards. I have a brief material in Spanish, and can give you some support if you need it.
Regarding the development of Web-based apps, you know GeoNode is a good platform and easy to extend with some knowledge of OpenLayers and python/Django. But there are many alternatives, open source and proprietary (ArcGIS Web mapping API, for instance).
Anyway, I'm very interested in following up on your progress in Belize and giving you any support I can, so keep us posted!
One of the challenge is the sustainabilty aspect of the SDI as well as other spatial data management activities. Many technically sound initiatives have not been materialized or did not go far enough. After few years, the good and often bold initiative simply vanished.
It requires an active community of practitioners like we have in Caribbean to continue these initiatives.
I dusted off an old folder and found this article (written by me on 2003) immediately after my work in Caracas. Many of the challenges that is mentioned in this article is still relevant in the Caribbean.
Thanks for sharing the article Bishwa. I agree that it remains relevant. We are trying to think through some of the same issues you raised. The technology has evolved and perhaps makes the objectives easier to achieve, but the issues need to be addressed are still there. GeoNode is bridging the technology gap and now we need to institute the workflows to build usable GIS applications that decision makers can use.
As practitioners we need to develop products that policy makers and decision makers can use to do their jobs and hopefully that will give the motivation to keep the efforts going.
Thanks again for sharing
Thanks for the paper, Bishwa, it's a very good description of a real experience tackling real problems.
While reading it I realized that an underlying issue in SDI implementation is that before we can get there, we actually need organization managers and politicians to grasp the concept of Geographical Information Systems and the power that these systems have to support organizations, processes and policies, since SDIs are an evolution of the GIS concept and functionality. Sometimes we don't realize that GIS still needs to penetrate more in organizations and policy implementation, which sometimes we take for granted.
In summary, strenghtening GIS knowledge and practice is another necessary cornerstone for SDI feasibility. In situations where GIS is already widely used, SDI implementation comes as a more natural requirement.