Groups examine ways of sharing geographic data to keep costs down

Groups examine ways of sharing geographic data to keep costs down

Up to 80 percent of the cost of a geographic information system is absorbed in the initial acquisition and creation of spatial data, according to some estimates. In government, this information is acquired separately by a variety of agencies and bureaus, each with different operating bases and uses for the data.

The result can be an expensive duplication of efforts, as entities acquire data that could be useful to other offices, if only they knew about it. Another problem could be that the data is stored in a format that might not be useful to outside agencies. Several groups are working to solve this problem.

The Center for Technology in Government of the State University of New York at Albany is leading the New York State GIS Cooperative Project. This project has created the Spatial Data Clearinghouse, which allows governmental organizations to access the data collected by other agencies. It also is developing policies, methodology, standards and protocols for the acquisition, storage, integration and dissemination of Global Positioning System data.

Another problem agencies face is the high cost of commercial GIS software and the difficulties of exchanging data between proprietary software programs. A cooperative Web site, www.remotesensing.org, addresses the problem with a Linux-like open-source approach to GIS. The site includes downloadable programs, standards and support documentation.

'Drew Robb

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