Thesis subject

MSc thesis topic: Searching for pyramids: How to optimally connect spatial data infrastructures?

In the classic vision on spatial data infrastructures (SDIs), SDIs form an hierarchical pyramid which goes from a local or corporate level to a global level. In reality, SDIs seem to be loosely connected to each other or even completely disconnected. This may frustrate the goal of most SDIs to facilitate spatial data sharing as data is still scattered among several SDIs. How can we optimally connect spatial data infrastructures?

The SDI hierarchy concept is rather influential in SDI literature. It helped to shape metadata portals and pan-national SDIs such as INSPIRE. But one may also argue that in reality this vision did not meet its expectations as many SDIs appear to be standalone infrastructures and attention mostly goes to the national level. Despite this, the concept seems little criticized.

Currently, new concepts to connect (spatial) data infrastructures emerge, such as federated data systems and data spaces. Also, technology like linked data may help to easier connect datasets from multiple data infrastructures. But will these new visions remain visions, or also implemented in practice? How can we optimally connect spatial data infrastructures?

Objectives and Research questions

  • Critically assess scientific literature on SDI organisation and architectures and contemporary SDI policy documents
  • Perform a case study on SDIs which successfully or unsuccessfully connect multiple SDIs together
  • Answer the research question: How to optimally connect spatial data infrastructures?

Expected reading list before starting the thesis research

  • Chan, Tai On, and Ian Williamson. 1999. "Spatial data infrastructure management: lessons from corporate GIS development." In The 27th Annual Conference of AURISA 99. Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia.
  • Rajabifard, Abbas, and Ian P Williamson. 2001. "Spatial data infrastructures: concept, SDI hierarchy and future directions." In Proceedings of GEOMATICS'80 Conference. Teheran.
  • Kotsev, Alexander, Marco Minghini, Robert Tomas, Vlado Cetl, and Michael Lutz. 2020. "From Spatial Data Infrastructures to Data Spaces—A Technological Perspective on the Evolution of European SDIs." ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information 9 (3):176.

Theme: Empowering & engaging communities