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Take the Survey: Dutch students study Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (CGDI)

Last week I saw a tweet that caught my attention from Europe.  Four students taking the Geographical information management and applications (GIMA) masters program had put out a survey focused on the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (CGDI). 

These days If you go to the source of all knowledge, Wikipedia, you will see the internet has defined SDI as…”A (Geo)spatial data infrastructure (SDI) is a data infrastructure implementing a framework of geographic data, metadata, users and tools that are interactively connected in order to use spatial data in an efficient and flexible way. Another definition is “the technology, policies, standards, human resources, and related activities necessary to acquire, process, distribute, use, maintain, and preserve (geo)spatial data.

Do we really have one of those in Canada? Sounds super fancy. Yes we do! NRCan, through the CCMEO, delegates to GeoConnections the management of our CGDI. SDI and CGDI are one and the same.  Below is the Tweet the students put out last week asking for participation in the survey.  After seeing the Tweet GoGeomatics got in touch with the Dutch and followed up asking Joost what the study was about. This is that conversation.

GoGeomatics:  Hi Joost. Thanks for taking the time to talk to use.  What is your study all about?

Joost Deen: Our study is the start of a change strategy plan for the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure. Nowadays geospatial information is used by everyone on a daily basis. Most (national) spatial data infrastructures (SDIs) are developed in a top down or supply-driven manner. What is the scalability of the SDIs and are they prepared for the use by non-experts? Without users a spatial data infrastructure has no right to exist, so the user needs and user-friendliness should be considered as one of the most important development strategies of current SDIs.

GoGeomatics: Can you tell us about your team?

Joost Deen: We are four students from the master Geographic Information Management and Application (GIMA). This master is a collaboration by four Dutch universities. The main objective of the third module of this master is to be able to write a spatial data infrastructure change strategy plan that focuses mainly on the improvement of existing national SDI implementation.

GoGeomatics: What is the purpose of a SDI Strategy Plan?

Joost Deen: The SDI strategy plan should address the governance and the implementation of a SDI in order to serve the user in a better way. The development and implementation of the SDI strategy plan must contribute to improving the sharing of geospatial information on a (inter)national level, to avoid data duplication, to meet user needs, to meet the country’s goals, and to improve effectiveness and efficiency of the use of spatial information by the end users. When planning, developing and managing a suitable environment for a national SDI, the focus should be on internal resources (hardware, software, humanware, dataware and orgware) and on external conditions, such as legal, cultural, technological, economic and institutional aspects. Special emphasis is put on the governance of national spatial data infrastructures, intended to improve and to support data sharing and (re)use by third parties. To support the change strategy, several business methods and tools exist, such as user needs analysis, cost-benefit analysis and TELOS methodology. Application of such methods/tools in a change strategy plan is the core business of this module. All students chose different country’s SDIs to assess.

GoGeomatics: Why did you choose to study the Canadian SDI?

Joost Deen: We chose the Canadian SDI, also known as the CGDI. The reasons why we choose the CGDI is because Canada, like the Netherlands, is in our opinion a precursor in the (inter)national development of SDIs. In the last decade, developments like Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) have manifested a gap between user needs and the original top-down development of the SDIs. Instead of the paradigm that the only producers of geospatial information are expert organisations, the shift towards integral production of and usage by both expert and amateur users, probably asks for a more bottom-up strategy for the development of national SDIs. Without its users a spatial data infrastructure has no right to exist, so the user needs and user-friendliness should be considered as one of the most important development strategies. In the first part of our project we researched the current status of the CGDI. It became clear that if we wanted to deliver a change strategy plan, we had to decide what the focus would be. The change strategy plan we will eventually want to deliver, focuses on the afore mentioned shift and will advise on the change strategy towards  the user needs and the usability of geoportals. To get a good understanding of the current usage of the geospatial information and its users within Canada, we set up an online survey.

GoGeomatics: How can we help you with the study?

 Joost Deen: We hope that we may take ten minutes of your time to fill in our survey, bit.ly/2rj7kKP . The deadline for the change strategy plan is the 30th of June and if you fill in your email address in the survey we will share the change strategy plan when it is finished. We will also share it via GoGeomatics.ca.

GoGeomatics: We wish you and your fellow students luck in your academic endeavors and look forward to seeing your results.

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