The Future of Spatial Data Infrastructures: Capacity-building for the Emergence of Municipal SDIs

Our paper suggests a realistic and sustainable pathway that will enable the emergence of comprehensive municipal information infrastructures, which in turn will support higher-level integration for spatial planning and decision-making at the regional, state, national and international scale. First of all, we propose to target our efforts to the primary locus of spatial change, i.e. the municipality, hence we call the strategy the City Knowledge approach (Carrera, 2004). We believe that the creation of sustainable Spatial Data Infrastructures – where data are plentiful and readily available in what we term a “Plan-Ready” scenario – can be achieved by investing time and effort in the creation of comprehensive municipal information systems (Carrera and Hoyt, 2006). The City Knowledge approach is founded on the premise that urban change falls almost entirely under municipal jurisdiction, and specifically under the purview of individual municipal departments. This paper therefore proposes to “grow” this knowledge from the middle-out, integrating a top-down approach to standardization (Craglia and Signoretta, 2000; Nedović-Budić and Pinto, 2000), with a bottom-up approach to neighborhood-scale ‘atomic’ data accrual (Ferreira, 1999; Talen, 1999). We believe that a web-services approach (Singh, 2004) would provide the technical mechanisms whereby towns will be enabled to accrue and maintain their municipal information in an inexpensive, efficient and sustainable manner.