Governance interactions of spatial data infrastructures: an agent-based modelling approach

Published on
January 18, 2021

An article of Jaap-Willem Sjoukema, Jalal Samia, Arnold K. Bregt and Joep Crompvoets: Governance interactions of spatial data infrastructures: an agent-based modelling approach, has been published in the International Journal of Digital Earth.


In order to facilitate and coordinate spatial data sharing and exchange, many organisations have developed spatial data infrastructures (SDIs). SDI governance plays a pivotal role in the development and evolution of an SDI, but as SDIs are complex adaptive systems, governing is a challenge. This research therefore proposes a complexity perspective to SDI governance by exploring the use of agent-based modelling to simulate and examine SDI governance interactions. In this agent-based simulation, we examine interactions between SDI stakeholders, data availability and the effects of different governance styles (hierarchical, network and laissez-faire governance) and budget policies. The simulation shows that it is possible to mimic SDI governance dynamics through agent-based modelling. By running different scenarios, it appears that a network approach is more successful compared to a hierarchical or laissez-faire approach. Expert validation shows that overall the results of the simulation are credible and insightful, although improvements can be made to make the model more realistic. With agent-based modelling, SDI governance becomes more tangible and visible, which facilitates discussion and understanding. Agent-based modelling therefore appears to be a helpful new approach in a better understanding of the complexities and dynamics of SDI governance.

Keywords: Governance; spatial data infrastructure (SDI); agentbased modelling; funding models; complex adaptive systems