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RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. The Mapping Science Committee recommends that geodetic control, orthorectifiedimagery, and terrain (elevation) data be considered the critical foundation of the national spatial data infrastructure.

    The foundation consists of spatial data that are the minimal directlyobservable or recordable data to which other data are spatially referencedand from which other digital spatial data may be compiled. The resultingfoundation, which will assist in the integration of disparate spatialdata sets and enable their sharing, will benefit federal, state,and local governments; the private sector; and the public at large.

  2. The Federal Geographic Data Committee should be responsible for coordinatingthe development and certification of a foundation and for its maintenanceand availability. Programs to acquire the data that comprise thefoundation should be accelerated. Data partnerships among federalagencies, state and local governments, the private sector, and othersshould be a key component of these programs.

    Implementation of this recommendation is contingent on the federalgovernment (1) recognizing the importance of this role and (2) makingavailable the requisite authority and resources that are commensuratewith the magnitude of the task. The recognition aspect was recentlyincreased with the signing of Executive Order



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A DATA FOUNDATION FOR THE NATIONAL SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE 4 RECOMMENDATIONS The Mapping Science Committee recommends that geodetic control, orthorectifiedimagery, and terrain (elevation) data be considered the critical foundation of the national spatial data infrastructure. The foundation consists of spatial data that are the minimal directlyobservable or recordable data to which other data are spatially referencedand from which other digital spatial data may be compiled. The resultingfoundation, which will assist in the integration of disparate spatialdata sets and enable their sharing, will benefit federal, state,and local governments; the private sector; and the public at large. The Federal Geographic Data Committee should be responsible for coordinatingthe development and certification of a foundation and for its maintenanceand availability. Programs to acquire the data that comprise thefoundation should be accelerated. Data partnerships among federalagencies, state and local governments, the private sector, and othersshould be a key component of these programs. Implementation of this recommendation is contingent on the federalgovernment (1) recognizing the importance of this role and (2) makingavailable the requisite authority and resources that are commensuratewith the magnitude of the task. The recognition aspect was recentlyincreased with the signing of Executive Order

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A DATA FOUNDATION FOR THE NATIONAL SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE 12906 by President Clinton on April 11, 1994 (“Coordinating Geographic Data Acquisition and Access: The NationalSpatial Data Infrastructure”). If the FGDC is unable to affect thecoordination of authority and resources, other arrangements shouldbe put in place to provide this critical activity. Specific spatial data themes should be designated as framework data. Framework designation should be based on the following criteria: broadest national constituency of users—spanning the largest geographic area and supporting the greatestnumber of applications; significant return on investment—in the form of increased productivity and efficiency; need to manage critical resources for developing policies or administeringprograms for preservation and use of resources; and constitutes a fundamental source to create or leverage other spatialdata. In addition, framework data should meet the following specifications: be compiled, archived, and maintained in digital form; include metadata descriptions that are adequate to reconstruct datacollection and processing chronologies;

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A DATA FOUNDATION FOR THE NATIONAL SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE be mathematically and semantically integrated with the foundation,with details of the integration procedure included in the metadatadescription; be distributed in an accepted, openly publicized, standard data exchangeformat; and be accessible to the public. Three spatial data themes—transportation, hydrology, and boundary elements—were designated by President Clinton in Executive Order 12906 asthe minimal elements of a framework that should be completed by January1998 in order to support the decennial census of 2000. This activityshould be established concurrently with a concerted federal effortto develop partnerships with the states and other parties. The MSCstrongly believes that there is a broader justification for theseframework data than just the decennial census; their use will bemore widespread. The broad use of TIGER data, initially compiledfor the 1990 census, is testament to this view. The Federal Geographic Data Committee should (a) coordinate identificationof the various components of existing framework data through itsclearinghouse, (b) encourage efforts to integrate those data withthe foundation, and (c) identify gaps in data coverage and encouragethe establishment of programs that include partnerships to populatethese framework data themes. Executive Order 12906 also called for a spatial data clearing-house.The MSC believes that, as a minimum, the clearinghouse should identifywhich and where components of framework data exist in governmentand the private sector. Although coordinated by the FGDC, individualfederal agencies will need to identify funds (including partnerships)for specific activities related to the compilation, maintenance,quality control, certification, and access of the foundation andframework data. The FGDC should establish peri-

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A DATA FOUNDATION FOR THE NATIONAL SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE odic maintenance cycle procedures appropriate for maintaining thecurrentness of the foundation and framework data and see they areimplemented. Improved methods are needed for integrating frameworkthemes with the foundation. FGDC should encourage the developmentand implementation of such methods. The new technologies of the nationalinformation infrastructure (largely telecommunications driven; e.g.,Internet) should be used to distribute and share the foundation andframework data and their associated metadata. To accomplish the needed compilation, maintenance, quality control,and access of the foundation and framework data, additional researchand development efforts are required to technically support theseactivities. Many of the same research needs were discussed in a1991 report (Research and Development in the National Mapping Division, USGS:Trends and Prospects, National Academy Press, Washington, DC.) bythe Mapping Science Committee. Without an increased understandingof concepts and procedures for these topics, integration of the foundationand framework data within the NSDI will not be achieved except atsubstantial extra cost and time. Specific research should include the following needs: data integration from multiple sources and spatial, spectral, andtemporal resolutions; intelligent query systems to facilitate successful browse and accessto items in very large data bases and distributed networks; improved updating procedures to maintain the foundation and frameworkdata and metadata; and standards for certification of the foundation and framework data.