Some feedback from ICC 2017 (1)

The quite busy conference programme of ICC 2017 included 36 presentations related to standards and 38 presentations related to SDIs.

In the following post the presentations of two sessions of 4th July 2017 are summarized.

Sissiel Kay, Senior Geomatics Manager, Chief Directorate: National Geospatial Information, South Africa is particularly responsible for geospatial data collection and management. Her particular interests are SDI (standards, policies), cartographic usability and quality management. She is an active member of the South African National Committee for ICA. Her topic was Challenges in sharing of geospatial data by data custodians in South Africa.

As most development planning and rendering of public services happens at a place or in a space, geospatial data is required. This geospatial data is best managed through a spatial data infrastructure (SDI), which has as a key objective to share geospatial data. The collection and maintenance of geospatial data is expensive and time consuming and so the principle of ‘collect once – use many times’ should apply. It is best to obtain the geospatial data from the authoritative source, namely the appointed data custodian. In South Africa, the South African Spatial Data Infrastructure (SASDI) is the means to achieve the requirement for geospatial data sharing. This requires geospatial data sharing to take place between the data custodians and the users.

All data custodians are expected to comply with the Spatial Data Infrastructure Act (SDI Act) in terms of geospatial data sharing. Currently data custodians are experiencing challenges with regard to the sharing of geospatial data. The lack of accessibility of geospatial data is likely to be due to the non-compliance with the SDI Act by data custodians.

The research was based on the current ten data themes selected by the Committee for Spatial Information and the organisations identified as the data custodians for these ten data themes. The objectives were to determine whether the identified data custodians comply with the SDI Act with respect to geospatial data sharing, and if not, what are the reasons for this. Through an international comparative assessment it then determined if the compliance with the SDI Act is not too onerous on the data custodians.

The research concluded that there are challenges with geospatial data sharing in South Africa, and that the data custodians only partially comply with the SDI Act in terms of geospatial data sharing. The main area of non-compliance is with the submission of the metadata to the Electronic Metadata Catalogue (EMC) and the maintenance of those metadata records. There is also a level of non-compliance with regard to the requirement to report errors and inconsistencies in the geospatial data. The data custodians can also improve on the communication with users. However, it is shown that, based on the comparison with other countries, the South African legislation for SDI is not too onerous on the data custodians.

It is recommended that measures should be put in place to address the current challenges being experienced with respect to geospatial data sharing, and to amend the Spatial Infrastructure Act to include measures to improve the implementation of SASDI, compliance with requirements of the Act and policies, and the governance thereof. These measures will go a long way to have a more effective national spatial data infrastructure.

Haico van der Vegt, is a strategy advisor in the Dutch Cadastre with main working areas like SDI, INSPIRE, key registers and European affairs, talked about “3D topography, part of the key register Topography in the Netherlands?.

In the Netherlands, official topographic mapping is controlled by law and is part of the system of key registers, containing the core spatial reference data of the Netherlands. Examples of key registers are personal information, vehicles, income and companies. In the geographic domain, registers like addresses, buildings, cadastre and topography already exist for a number of years. For each register, the (unique) ownership, production responsibilities, liability, budget, update cycle, etc. are regulated in a contract with the responsible Ministry.

The key register Topography (BRT) contains medium and small scale (<< 1:10,000) topographic information: Available as open data, with a strong growing user base, leading to an increasing demand for 3D information. Kadaster, together with universities and the private sector, developed an fully automatic production process to combine 2D topographic information with LiDAR height data (AHN-2) of the Netherlands. This resulted in a countrywide 3D topographic map of the Netherlands, 3D Map NL, first released in 2014, but in 2016 also available through the Dutch geoportal PDOK. An important characteristic of the 3D topographic data set is the “watertight” planar partition. The 2D topographic data consists of a planar partition without gaps. Therefore the 3D topographic dataset also has to be a closed partition. The AHN2 point cloud has a density of around 8 points per square meter, giving enough detail to assign absolute height values to topographic features. However, the AHN has an update cycle of about 7 years. Updates of the topographic map can therefore not be matched with the quickly outdated AHN. To overcome this problem, the use of high-resolution stereo aerial images, updated on a yearly basis, is now investigated. The first results are very promising, as detailed point clouds can be extracted from these stereo photo’s. These point clouds are, like the LiDAR point clouds, again combined with the 2D topographic information and height values are calculated. Currently, the level of detail of the 3D topography is LoD 1, but steps are taken to include LoD 2, displaying not only building blocks but roof forms as well. The government acknowledges the importance of official, high quality 3D topographic information and has plans to include the 3D Map NL product in the key register Topography, making this valuable piece of information an integral part of the geo-information backbone of the Netherlands. User experiences will further improve the quality and value of this 3D product.

Antonio F. Rodriguez (source:

Antonio F. Rodriguez (source:

Antonio F. Rodriguez, Deputy Director, National Centre for Geographic Information, Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN), talked about “ICC2017_SpanishNSDI2017” (co-authors: Javier García, Emilio López, Paloma Abad, Alejandra Sánchez). Antonio has a wide range of expertise and experience regarding SDI, metadata and INSPIRE. I found his presentation very interesting because of the shared lessons learned.

The Spanish National SDI, titled IDEE for “Infraestructura de Datos Espaciales de España” opened its geoportal in summerof 2004 as a collaborative project for sharing geographic information leaded by the three levels of Spanish government (national, regional and local), with the structure of a SDI composed of others SDIs, and open to all actors from private sector and academia wanting to participate.

During those twelve years of evolution a lot of decisions and option has been chosen. The progress of the project can be described in several phases:

  • launching,
  • community building,
  • standardization and matureness.

Nowadays we have a broad community of actors with several hundreds of SDI nodes publishing thousands of services and resources in a very exciting atmosphere of collaboration and mutual confidence. A set of final and practical applications have been developed using IDEE as a basis and the impact on the Spanish society is increasing year by year.

In 2010 the Spanish Law 14/2010 transposing INSPIRE Directive was approved and we are now in the middle of the implementation process performing complex tasks of data, metadata and services reengineering. This presentation gives a general picture of the current development of the IDEE from the technical and organizational point of view, and summarizes a balance of the experience gained along this process, trying to identify the problems found, lessons learnt, the proved good practices, the gained experience and highlighting the main organizational issues, which we think are in general more difficult to solve than the technical ones. Finally, a perspective of future trends and developments and a set of conclusions are also included.

The next session began with the talk of Maroale Martha Mimi Chauke. As Director National Spatial Information Framework at the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform she is responsible for the implementation of the South African Spatial Data Infrastructure.

Maroale Chauke (source: ICC2017)

Maroale Chauke (source: ICC2017)

Her talk about “Integrating Marine (Ocean and Coastal) elements into the South African Spatial Data Infrastructure (SASDI)” can be summarized as follows:

South Africa has been engaged in the development of a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) for over three decades. Early efforts to establish a South African Spatial Data Infrastructure (SASDI) started in 1985, but the Spatial Data Infrastructure Act, administered by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, was only enacted in 2003. The Committee for Spatial Information established in terms of section 5 of the SDI Act, was appointed in 2010 and during the three year term of the CSI, noticeable strides were made as far as the implementation of the SASDI, however the focus did not include elements of the marine and coastal environment, missing the opportunity to make use of the large and valuable resources brought by the blue economy. A paradigm shift took place in early 2015 and mostly driven by a need to address national imperatives outlined in the National Development Plan, other regional and international obligations relating to the suitable management of the marine re-sources. A literature and legislative framework governing the SASDI was reviewed to evaluate the efficacy of the current legislative framework in preparation for the integration of the marine and coastal elements into SASDI. The outcome of this investigation reveals a need for a paradigm shift and review of legislation, processes and the involvement of the private sector in SDI implementation

It is very interesting to notice that marine SDI implementations apparently are very important!

Kimberly Mantey, U.S. Geological Survey at the National Geospatial Technical Operations Center, talked about “Common Challenges Faced in Creating Standard Data Products for the 3D Elevation Program”. Her summary is as follows:

Availability of nationwide standardized high resolution elevation data continues to be a growing need for Federal, state, and local governments, as well as the public. The Department of the Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and other partner agencies have launched the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) to meet this need, using airborne lidar as the primary mechanism for elevation collection in the conterminous U.S.

A major challenge of the 3DEP is to produce standardized elevation products from a variety of lidar source data. Lidar data is acquired by different contractors using different sensor technologies, processing software, and at different times. As this industry is still fairly new, standards are constantly evolving and changing to accommodate growth in lidar technology. A natural consequence of this is that the data that come to USGS for the 3DEP are often not meeting minimum published standards. In order to publish 3DEP products, USGS must identify these issues and ensure the data are brought up to specification, either by utilizing contracting mechanisms or completing the fixes in-house. Some examples of common challenges seen at USGS in lidar data include incorrect file formats, proper file formats that are corrupted, problems with spatial referencing of data, geometrically unsound lidar data, improperly classified lidar data, and non-topographically correct Digital Elevation Models. This presentation will identify these common issues and provide examples on how they are fixed and what the correct results should be.

Flávia Mandarino (source: ICC 2017)

Flávia Mandarino (source: ICC 2017)

Flávia Mandarino, Commander / Cartographic Engineer of the Directorate of Hydrography and Navigation, Navy Hydrography Center, Brazilian Navy, lead auditor on ISO 9001 at Brazilian Navy, gave the presentation entitled “Brazilian Directorate of Hydrography and Navigation engagement in Marine Spatial Data Infrastructures” (co-authors: Julierme Pinheiro, Christopher Florentino):

Marine Spatial Data Infrastructures (MSDI) is the component of a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI). MSDI encompasses marine geographic and business related information. MSDI is gaining worldwide appreciation and it is becoming a solution endorsed by Hydrographic Offices (HO) to take action towards Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP), environmental management and emergency response. MSDI require data, technology, standards, and policies to work together for the common good. Countries around the world have established National Spatial Data Infrastructures (NSDI), such as NSDI in Brazil. None the less, it is conspicuous that for the marine element there is a tendency to start building SDI on spatial products rather than spatial data. Also, due to the concepts of e-navigation and e-maritime, HOs have been challenged to embrace and to press forward in the development of MSDI. In this context, this paper shows the architecture of a MSDI which is in development at Brazilian Directorate of Hydrography and Navigation (DHN). The MSDI aims to facilitate the access and integration of multi-source spatial data in an interoperable framework with a number of technological components which includes, free and open source platforms and private web systems, to enhance the use of policies and standards and also to support MSP, e-navigation and e-maritime.