Report Card on the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI)

The Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) announces the release of its Report Card on the U.S. National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) that depicts the condition and performance of the nation’s geospatial “infrastructure” which includes surveyed, mapped and remotely-sensed information.

This initial Report Card by the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) is a qualitative assessment of the status of the Framework data components of that program. This evaluation specifically examines the status of the seven data themes that serve as the backbone required by users to conduct most mapping and geospatial analysis tasks. While Framework data have been collected and made available for use over the past two decades, a digital geospatial Framework that is national in scope, is not yet in place and may never exist. Based on the following analysis, the overall grade assigned to the comprehensive NSDI Framework is C-.

The clear objective of the NSDI was to create a dependable utility that would provide accurate, consistent, and current data to all users. The goals of the program were to:

• Reduce duplication of effort among agencies.

• Improve the quality of data and reduce costs related to the acquisition of geographic information.

• Make geographic data more accessible to the public.

• Increase the benefits of using available data.

• Establish key partnerships with states, counties, cities, tribal nations, academia, and the private sector, to increase the availability of geographic data.

The NSDI includes a number of connected components, including the technology, policies, standards, and human resources necessary to acquire, process, store, distribute, and improve the utilization of geospatial data. However, the cornerstone of the program is a common digital base map that would aggregate the best representations of fundamental data from all levels of government.

In light of the two decade history of the NSDI, and this realistic assessment of the current situation, the Expert Panel concludes that the Framework requires attention, and that several actions need to take place:

  • The concept of the Framework needs to be reaffirmed.
  • A new model for Framework data needs to be adopted, and this new model must acknowledge the importance of local partners.
  • The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) needs to emphasize that the Framework is part of its Strategic Plan, and that it will work in collaboration with non-federal and non-governmental partners to build an effective NSDI Framework.
  • Bossler, Dr. John D., Dr. David J. Cowen, James E. Geringer, Susan Carson Lambert, John J. Moeller, Thomas D. Rust, Robert T. Welch. Report Card on the U.S. National Spatial Data Infrastructure – Compiled for the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations. February 6, 2015.