The myriad of individual and organizational collaboration efforts are currently doing much to resolve specific local needs and to provide a positive, dynamic environment for collaboration. Many problems and issues remain, however, and many of these successful efforts have been costly in terms of the time required to develop and maintain them. Missing is a strong, nationally focused governance process to bring the relevant and affected organizations together within the established framework of the NSDI to ensure collaborative approaches to resolving multijurisdictional and national-level issues. The kind of governance process described by the report of the FGDC Future Directions Initiative is the subject of continued discussion within the NSDI community and could significantly improve the environment for collaboration and data sharing during emergency response. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been assigned responsibilities for coordinating geospatial data and tools for emergency management, as detailed in Section 3.2.2. The committee therefore recommends that DHS play a leading role in ensuring that this proposed strengthening of NSDI governance addresses the needs of emergency management.

RECOMMENDATION 2: The current system of governance of the NSDI should be strengthened to include the full range of agencies, governments, and sectors that share geospatial data and tools, in order to provide strong national leadership. DHS should play a lead role in ensuring that the special needs of emergency management for effective data sharing and collaboration are recognized as an important area of emphasis for this new governance structure.


A critical requirement for emergency preparedness, response, and mitigation is to have rapid access to the most accurate, up-to-date geospatial content, whether it be current wind speed and direction, the location of hospitals, damage assessment data, or the results of predictive flood models. Emergency managers and responders need rapid and reliable access to such content on demand. However, there are numerous issues involved in meeting the challenges of this on-demand, rapid-access requirement. Whether the geospatial data are being accessed from archives or from real-time sensor feeds, the following must always be considered if we are to build a national asset not just for emergency management but also for other homeland security functions:

  • Are geospatial data being collected once and maintained by the organization that can do this most effectively?

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