Shared Benefits. Each party to the activity will derive some benefit that is consistent with its mandated role as an agency. In addition, benefits from the partnership will likely accrue to parties outside the partnership and to society at large. This is especially important when the partnership is seen as contributing to the evolution of the NSDI.
Shared Control. Decision-making control of the project will be divided between the participants.
Each of these elements is important whether the partnership is merely an agreement between two agencies to carry out an activity to their mutual benefit, or whether it is fostered and encouraged as a contribution to NSDI. However, in the latter case certain other conditions are important.
Benefits. A key aspect of the philosophy behind the idea of a NSDI is that spatial data are a national resource. If spatial data are created to satisfy the needs of one agency alone, or two or more agencies acting in partnership, then benefits to society at large may not be realized, and the result may be duplication of effort as each agency creates the spatial data that meet its own requirements. Benefits of spatial data partnerships must be evaluated for the entire national community of spatial data users, not merely for the agencies participating in the partnership. The secondary uses of data are becoming just as important as the primary purpose for which they were collected. This principle should form an important criterion in government's assessment and evaluation of any proposed partnership.
Design. The design of a spatial data partnership must address the needs of potential users beyond the partner agencies. How will such users gain access to the data; how will the data be documented and catalogued so that they are easy to find; how can the concerns of secondary users be represented in the process of data base design; how can society benefit to the greatest extent possible from this investment in spatial data? The contribution of a spatial data partnership to the wider objectives of NSDI must be considered in its design and management.
Data Quality. Data quality is an important factor in the value of any investment in spatial data. Potential users will be confident using data only if they know the data are reliable—if they are accurate, up to date, and consistent with their own documentation and metadata. Data that fail to