Small Investment Delivering SDI Returns

Small Investment Delivering SDI Returns

Since its launch in 2003, the GSDI Association Small Grants Program has provided support to more than 110 projects across the globe. Three types of awards are available: a cash award of up to USD2,500 per project; SDI/GIS consulting services up to the value of USD2,500; or a combination of cash award and SDI/GIS consulting services. The consulting services are offered through the GISCorps.

GSDI set up the small grant approach in part based on success of the United States Federal Geographic Data Committee’s Cooperative Agreement Program (FGDC CAP). A study of the FGDC CAP programme suggested that smaller grants likely represent a more effective way to distribute funds (MacPherson et. al., 2003; FGDC, 2001). Thus, the small grant approach was viewed as a way to incentivise partners to create and implement solutions for decision-makers. The grants enable a wide range of stakeholders and instil greater stewardship and capacity to manage information resources. Recipients can be government agencies at all levels, non-government organisations, academic institutions, private companies, or combinations of the above. Furthermore, the small grants programmehas been used to leverage additional resources from partners, such as URISA and Natural Resources Canada. Every grant serves to attract organisations to add to GSDI’s network and knowledge.

Spatial Data Infrastructure

GSDI Association’s international Small Grants Program continued into 2015 with awards made to spatial data infrastructure (SDI) initiative projects from Ecuador, Indonesia, Jamaica, and South Africa. This effort was supported by resources and cooperation from Natural Resources Canada’s GeoConnections and U.S. Federal Geographic Data Committee. Each of the projects received USD2,500 with the goals to enable the access, integration, distribution, management, and use of geographical information for informed decision making. All of the projects achieved their objectives and submitted final reports in early 2016.

In Ecuador, the project based at GeoCentro, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, under the lead of Richard Resl, achieved its goal of getting institutions and organisations interested and involved in constructing the community-based SDI GeoCommunity Galapagos. This will allow local Galapagos Islands’ authorities and communities to take informed actions in meeting the challenges of sustaining a vulnerable and unique island ecosystem in the 21st century. The project was accomplished using workshops, a collective public relation initiative, and prototyping of a common spatial data catalogue and web based geoportal solution. A result of the project is that governmental agencies, which were reluctant at the start, began to participate in these innovations for open data access and shared approaches with civic organizations and non-governmental organisations. In the future, the project team will continue to expand the use of geospatial technologies and data to foster local and global collaboration for data gathering and sharing, and to support the integration of sensitive data to improve the management of a complex and extremely vulnerable environment that is of global interest.

Indonesia’s Research Centre for Spatial Data Infrastructure Development (PPIDS) within the Universitas Gadjah Mada developed a comprehensive web-based, self-assessment survey of SDI readiness that portrays the readiness in SDI development by Indonesian local governments. The survey was shared with 510 local governments with a response rate of 32%. Findings of the project were presented at two workshops held in Indonesia and an interactive map showing the participating respondents with their SDI readiness index was developed. An analysis of the project results is in development and will be distributed to local governments to attract higher participation in upcoming surveys. This year they are planning to continue the research project with a focus on surveying SDI performance in Indonesian local governments, which will also be used as major component of the newly established Indonesian Geospatial Award. Some of the key components from the current SDI Readiness Index will be utilised.


Upgrading in the National Metadata Portal was the focus of Jamaica’s National Spatial Data Management Division (NSDMD) that is within the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment, Climate Change. The online portal supports a standards-based clearinghouse and metadata discovery application. It is used by Land Information Council of Jamaica (LICJ) member organisations to facilitate the search, discovery, cataloguing, validation and publishing of metadata records that enable the use of geospatial resources including Web services. The NSDMD conducted a one-day workshop and created and shared a user guide for the upgraded portal. The metadata clearinghouse, hosts a wealth of national metadata resources and currently comprising approximately 160 records, published by various government and non-government organisations. Follow on activities aim to have agencies create and update their metadata records which will be uploaded to the National Metadata Portal.  

Education and training

South Africa’s Committee for Spatial Information project objective was to prepare a framework for South African SDI education and training. They took the opportunity to collaborate with the National Spatial Information Framework (NSIF), Department of Rural Development and Land Reform who were hosting a series of workshops around South Africa on the draft Regulations for the Spatial Data Infrastructure Act. The workshops provided a means for conducting the Committee’s GIS Demand survey questionnaire with an audience of prominent GIS personnel in the government sector. In addition, the survey was also conducted at the Geomatics Indaba 2015 (GI2015) conference and was distributed via the Geographic Information Society of South Africa. The analysis of the survey results is ongoing and a presentation of the survey results is planned. This information is seen as very important to informing developments in South Africa’s tertiary education sector in order to meet the required skills in industry.

The GSDI Association would like to continue supporting the developing world in reaching the vision of a Global SDI. Are you willing to contribute and help advance the global spatial data infrastructure and sponsor the GSDI Small Grant Program? Donations also are gratefully accepted or funds targeted at specific regions or SDI projects. For further information, please see the GSDI Small Grants website or send an email to


FGDC, 2001.

MacPherson, A., Mark, D., Will, R., and H. Calkins, 2003. The impact of FGDC grants upon the success of metadata clearinghouse projects: Do grants really make a difference? URISA Journal 15(2): 37-45.

Author info:

Gita Urban-Mathieux managed the GSDI Association’s Small Grants Program until July 2016. Since 2006, Gita was programme coordinator for United States’ Federal Geographic Data Committee Office of the Secretariat.


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