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For the Development of National Spatial Data Infrastructures

Esri Launches Major Grant Initiative

Over the past decade, a small group of dedicated international scientists and interested professionals have envisioned a global program to assist developing countries in the creation and maintenance of their spatial data infrastructures. Their efforts culminated in Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI). In May of this year, the country of Colombia hosted the biannual conference of the GSDI with 300 members/delegates from more than 50 countries participating (see "Fifth Conference of GSDI"). Many of these were managers or directors of national mapping agencies. At this conference, Esri President Jack Dangermond, in association with the International Steering Committee for Global Mapping (ISCGM), announced the Global Map [ISCGM]/GSDI Grant Program.

Esri's Grant Program

For a variety of reasons, Esri has developed this program to support the GSDI with software, training grants, and a general commitment to provide a certain level of technical support.

This Global Map/GSDI Grant Program is in keeping with Esri's interest in encouraging the growth and capabilities of GIS and data infrastructure for addressing global problems. Starting in the early 1980s, Esri became involved with a number of global organizations including, and perhaps most strategically, the United Nations Environment Programme in their efforts to build a global resource information database. Gradually this has merged with various cooperatives now managed by Tim Foresman and others.

The grant program is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Jack Estes, chair, ISCGM, and a GIS pioneer who envisioned a globalprogram to assist developing countries in the creation and maintenance of their spatial data infrastructures. This initiative is intended to jump-start the development and distribution of national geospatial data as a backbone for supporting sustainable economic development. It actively supports the expansion of the international programs of the GSDI and global mapping organizations in their efforts to promote the sharing of spatial data.

"Developing countries have limited resources. This is a way to provide assistance and collaboration with the GSDI and ISCGM organizations," says Jack Dangermond, Esri president. "I believe that the development and maintenance of a country's geospatial data is vital to achieving sustainable economic development throughout the world."

Under this grant program, one organization in each country will agree to serve its wealth of data onto the Geography Network (which is OpenGIS Consortium-compliant) using the OGC Standard Extender and ArcIMS. These organizations will also maintain their data. Esri will register this information as part of the Geography Network and post a framework based on FGDC standards and protocol.

Esri will underwrite the initiative with a comprehensive package of software, training, and support. It is anticipated that approximately 100 grants will be awarded to support the building of national spatial data infrastructures throughout the world.

Country representatives are encouraged to apply through their national mapping agencies or appropriate ministries. Grants will be made to only one government agency per country.

For more information, contact Jeanne Rebstock, Esri (e-mail:

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