case is generally based on assumptions of costs and benefits that have little evidence supporting them. For this reason, the workshop concluded that there is an urgent need to undertake longitudinal studies of SDIs, paying particular attention to sub-national and regional SDIs and to application-driven approaches in which it is possible to identify stakeholders, user communities, and potential benefits (see Craglia and Nowak 20063). As a follow-up to that workshop, the JRC commissioned the Centre of Land Policy and Valuations of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalonia to perform a study of the socioeconomic impact of SDI in Catalonia. The one-year study, which was concluded in December 2007, found that if the cost of topographic data production is excluded, the initial investment of €1.5 million over the period 2002-2006 was recovered in less than one year. The main categories of cost relate to the creation of metadata; setting up Internet services for discovery, view, and download; and preparation of the data for publication. Almost 80 percent of the costs were for human resources. The main benefits took the form of increased internal efficiency for public administrations (time saved in internal queries by technical staff, time saved in attending queries made by the public, and time saved in internal processes), effectiveness benefits (time saved by the public and by companies in dealing with public administration), and wider social benefits. One such social benefit was a narrowing of the digital divide for populations living in small communities, as in many cases these populations began to receive the same level of service that they would have received if they were living in larger towns and cities. Examples of such improved service included being able to contact governmental bodies at any time of the day or night and obtaining building permits faster.

The Catalonia study was important because for the first time it provided real evidence for both investment costs and measured benefits. It also allowed testing of the methodology proposed by the JRC, and it offered lessons learned for use in further studies. One such study is now in progress in the Regione Lombardia of Italy in collaboration with the JRC. It will be completed in 2009, paving the way for a wider deployment of the methodology across Europe. The full Catalonia study, which is also relevant for the wider assessment of PSI, is available at

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement