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Record number 346001
Title National Spatial Data Clearinghouses: Worldwide development and impact
Author(s) Crompvoets, J.W.H.C.
Source Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Arnold Bregt, co-promotor(en): Gert Jan Hofstede. - [S.l.] : S.n. - ISBN 9789085043416 - 128
Department(s) Laboratory of Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing
Information Technology
Publication type Dissertation, internally prepared
Publication year 2006
Keyword(s) geografische informatiesystemen - gegevens verzamelen - nationale planning - informatiecentra - sociale gevolgen - geographical information systems - data collection - national planning - information centres - social impact
Categories Geographical Information Systems
Abstract Over the last few years many countries have spent considerable resources on developing their own National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) in order to manage and utilise spatial data assets more efficiently, reduce the cost of data production, and eliminate duplication of data acquisition. One of the key features of an NSDI is the national clearinghouse for spatial data, which can be regarded as the access network of an NSDI facilitating access to a nation's spatial data and related services. A clearinghouse can be defined as an electronic facility for searching, viewing, transferring, ordering, advertising and/or disseminating spatial data from numerous sources via the Internet. Such a facility usually consists of a number of servers, which contain information (metadata) about available digital data. A fully operational national clearinghouse enhances and innovates the NSDI of a country

The main objective of this thesis is to analyse the development and impact of national spatial data clearinghouses worldwide as well as the impact of society on these facilities. The results obtained provide support for the development of strategies for establishing and maintaining clearinghouses. In order to achieve this main objective, the following five sub-objectives have been formulated:

1) To assess the worldwide status of national spatial data clearinghouses.

2) To assess the worldwide developments of national spatial data clearinghouses.

3) To assess the impact of national spatial data clearinghouses on society, and inparticularthe GI-community.

4) To explore the societal impact on the establishment of national spatial data clearinghouses.

5) To explore the societal impact on the success of national spatial data clearinghouses.

The results of these assessments and explorations provide a basis for identifying critical factors that affect national clearinghouses. This knowledge can be used to improve the use, content and management of (future) clearinghouses. Each of the chapters 2-6 focuses on a sub-objective as presented earlier.

Chapter 2 systematically assesses and presents the worldwide status of national spatial data clearinghouses in December 2001. The examination of clearinghouse status was based on a web survey comprising an inventory of all established clearinghouses as well as measurements of twelve key characteristics: 1) year of first implementation; 2) number of data suppliers; 3) level of (meta)data accessibility; 4) metadata-standard applied; 5) number of datasets; 6) most recently produced dataset; 7) number of web references; 8) number of monthly visitors; 9) frequency of web updates; 10) language used; 11) use of maps for searching and 12) registration-only access. In December 2001, 59 countries had established their own national clearinghouse with significant differences in content, use and management.

Chapter 3 systematically assesses and presents the development of all national clearinghouses throughout the world. Development assessment was primarily based on a longitudinal web survey, undertaken in April and December of 2000, 2001 and 2002 respectively. By December 2002, 67 countries had already established their own national clearinghouse. This quantity alone is significant. Of concern however, are the declining trends in use, management and content. One of the main reasons is likely be the dissatisfaction of the GI-community with the functional capability of national clearinghouses. Functional capabilities should perhaps be shifted from a data-oriented into a user and application-oriented focus; this is in line with the objectives of second-generation spatial data infrastructures (Rajabifardet al., 2003). Therefore, the main indications of critical (clearinghouse-internal) success factors are: the introduction of web services, the stability of funding, the provision of good communication channels, the formulation of a clear vision of the national clearinghouse function, the creation of user-friendly interfaces with less discipline-specific terminology, as well as trust in the clearinghouse.

Chapter 4 systematically assesses and presents the worldwide impact of spatial data clearinghouses on society, and in particular the GI-community. The aim of this assessment is to assist policy makers in their task of evaluating whether or not investment in setting up and maintaining these facilities is justified. In order to achieve this objective a procedure was devised for the systematic evaluation of sustainable development within the worldwide clearinghouse population. The assessment procedure entailed a survey undertaken by clearinghouse coordinators (November 2003 - April 2004). A range of economic, social and environmental indicators was chosen to evaluate the relevance, efficiency and effectiveness of clearinghouses. This chapter also presents the results of complementary analyses, which were carried out to assess the significance of the impacts recorded. They were also used to assess the objectivity of the coordinators' responses. The results of these assessments reveal that clearinghouses (of the developed world) have mainly positive (economic) impacts. In addition, the results also indicate the significance of clearinghouses as relevant facilities for enhancing spatial data accessibility, for providing efficient means of accessing spatial data, and the effective promotion of data use and distribution. Finally, it is argued that results obtained can be used to justify present and support future investments in the clearinghouse system.

Chapter 5 explores and presents the impact of society on the establishment of national clearinghouses. The aim of this exploration is to answer the following questions from a societal perspective: what are the critical factors influencing the establishment of national spatial data clearinghouses; why have some countries established a national clearinghouse, and why have other countries not done so? With these questions in mind, explorative and empirical analyses were carried out using the analysis of variances (ANOVA) and the decision tree method of data mining. The starting point was the worldwide status of established national clearinghouses in December 2002. The societal conditions of each country were characterised by attributes relating to nine societal aspects (economy, education, technology, environment, culture, demography, institution, health care, and jurisdiction). The main findings of this exploration indicate that all nine aspects can be considered as critical for such establishment, especially education, technology, institution, and health care aspects. Consequently, many societal attributes can be considered to play a critical role. Examples of critical attributes collected are: agricultural productivity, years of schooling, number of Internet secure servers, year of independence, and births attended by skilled health staff. These critical attributes give an approximate indication of the standard of living of a nation's society. It is plausible that the standard of living (rather than wealth) plays an important role in determining whether a country has an established national clearinghouse or not.

Chapter 6 explores and presents the impact of society on the success of national clearinghouses for the situation of December 2002. It also identifies the societal factors behind the success of such a clearinghouse. A clearinghouse suitability index was developed in order to measure the success of clearinghouses. The society of each country was described by the same attributes relating to the nine societal aspects of Chapter 5. Several explorative analyses were performed based on statistics (e.g. partial least squares regression). Moreover, the success of potential clearinghouses was predicted for countries with no previously existing facility. These prediction results were tested against the results of the web survey of April 2005. The findings of the analyses highlight the importance of certain societal conditions for the success of national clearinghouses. However, society alone does not fully determine success, since clearinghouse-internal factors are also important. From a societal perspective, success is likely to be dependent on a combination of attributes from different societal aspects, in particular economy, education and technology. Critical factors for success could be those that raise the level of wealth in the country (e.g. taxes on income, gross domestic product, education expenditure and Internet accessibility). In April 2005, 83 countries had established their own national clearinghouse. In the near future newly established national clearinghouses, in countries where they have not previously been established, are likely to face serious obstacles or may even fail as a result of unfavourable societal conditions. This could, however, be reversed if critical clearinghouse-internal factors are implemented.

Through the results obtained, it appears that no single best solution or recipe exists since each country has its own unique society. However, the results of this thesis will support clearinghouse coordinators and policy makers in the development of successful strategies for establishing and maintaining national clearinghouses. In this way, the results of this thesis can contribute to the enhancement of national clearinghouses andNSDIsin many countries.
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