The state of spatial data

Like democracies holding elections, standards-making bodies need
to check in every so often with the electorate to find out if they
are headed in the right direction.

Accordingly, the Open Geospatial Consortium, in cooperation with
OGC members Blue Marble Geographics and 1Spatial, recently surveyed
thousands of geospatial data suppliers and users around the world
to find out what they need to develop a better framework for
spatial-data quality standards.

Three-quarters of respondents reported that their data is now
stored in spatial databases, as opposed to flat-file databases or
other repositories.

Perhaps the most surprising result was the dispersed
responsibility for the quality of spatial data in responding
organizations. In 25 percent of organizations, the person entering
the data is responsible for its quality. In 20 percent of
organizations, the responsibility is given to no individual.
That's potentially scary when you consider that at some point
an ambulance might be dispatched to those data coordinates. OGC
found another surprise in mining the survey data. According to Sam
Bacharach, executive director for outreach at OGC, the organization
was struck by how few respondents were aware of current legislation
that affects the way data should be stored and maintained.

'Data managers have come to understand that what's
important is having data discoverable online with machinereadable
metadata and accessible through open interfaces, Bacharach said.
What's not important any longer is having data available in a
particular vendor's format. The geospatial world is well
along in the transition from tedious file transfers to direct
Web-mediated access.'

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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