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Spring 2005
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GIS Worlds: Creating Spatial Data Infrastructures—New From Esri Press

book jacketGIS Worlds: Creating Spatial Data Infrastructures, a new book coming from Esri Press, provides an overview of the developments that have taken place with spatial data infrastructures (SDIs) over the last 10 to 15 years. SDIs are defined as the technology, policies, standards, human resources, and related activities necessary to acquire, process, distribute, use, maintain, and preserve spatial data. Author Ian Masser focuses on the new policy options and the institutional structures associated with the formulation and implementation of SDI initiatives.

Geographic data is becoming increasingly valuable as GIS technology is adopted around the world across diverse industries. The ability to share dynamic information leads to efficient decision making and effective operation.

Says Masser, "As a result of developments in GIS technology over the last 20 years, the importance of SDI has grown and our capacity to handle large quantities of spatial information has increased exponentially. At the same time, our power to access this information has been transformed by the development of the Internet and the Web."

Masser's extensive knowledge of SDIs stems from his experience with geographic studies as a computer literate urban planner with a human geography background. He first became involved in matters relating to geospatial information (GI) policy and SDIs during his time as the national coordinator of the United Kingdom (UK) Economic and Social Research Council's Regional Research Laboratory initiative in the late 1980s. This coincided with the British government's publication of the Chorley report, Handling Geographic Information, in May 1987. The report was a milestone in the development of thinking about GI policy, not only in the UK but also throughout the world. Masser was the founder and chairman of the Association of Geographic Information Laboratories in Europe from 1998 to 1999 and president of the European Umbrella Organization for Geographic Information from 1999 to 2003. From 2002 to 2004, he served as president of the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Association.

GIS Worlds conveys the importance of SDIs throughout the world. Early development of SDIs was more prevalent in wealthy countries, such as Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States. However, there is less exclusiveness with countries that are now developing SDIs as a result of more exposure to SDI benefits. Ghana, India, Kenya, and Nepal have all started implementing their own processes.

"The implication of the shift toward developing countries will require a much greater emphasis on capacity building activities of all kinds than has ever been the case," says Masser. "More than half the countries in the world are currently involved in some form of SDI development. Consequently, it is becoming increasingly important for people to understand the nature of this SDI phenomenon."

GIS Worlds: Creating Spatial Data Infrastructures is available for purchase at or by calling 1-800-447-9778.

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