still in its infancy, it is not clear how the different sectors would interact within such an organization. For example, considerable attention should be paid to the balance of power. If it is dominated by the private sector, such an alliance could disrupt the sharing of data that has been a cornerstone of the NSDI concept.

It is also important to note that the FGDC has been playing a major role in promoting global data sharing. It has participated in all five Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI) conferences, and serves as the organization’s permanent secretariat. Although the GSDI is still a fledging concept, is significant that 43 countries recently sent representatives to Cartagena, Columbia, to the Fifth Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Conference. The FGDC staff provided considerable assistance in the development of a “cookbook,” The Spatial Data Infrastructure Implementation Guide, and support for the GSDI website ( This cookbook provides extensive guidance and recommendations regarding policies, organizational principles, and standards. Indications are that the FGDC involvement in the GSDI setting will lead to a more coherent organization of several of the nation’s international spatial data efforts such as Digital Earth, Global Map, the Global Disaster Information Network, and the United Nations Environmental Programme.

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