Archive for October, 2012

A full quorum of the Committee for Spatial Information (CSI) met on 1 October 2012 and agreed to adopt several recommendations proposed by its Data Sub-committee relating to the definition of base spatial datasets, criteria for base spatial datasets, criteria for data custodians, and the identification of an initial list of base spatial datasets and data custodians. Included in these recommendations is a solution which overcomes the complex issue of selecting data custodians for datasets with multiple de facto dataset custodians.

This major step towards the creation of a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) for South Africa came about as a result of the CSI’s decision to follow a transparent and consultative process with a wide variety of stakeholders from all spheres of government and the private sector.

The first recommendation provides a new definition for base spatial datasets, namely that: “Base geospatial datasets are those identified as the minimum set of essential datasets that are widely used as a reference base at various administrative levels to accomplish South Africa’s national and international priorities.”

The second recommendation provides compulsory and conditional criteria for base spatial datasets that are to be determined in consultation with custodians on an individual bases for each base spatial dataset. Compulsory conditions are that the datasets should aim at complete coverage of the area of interest; a diversity of users from different sectors should often derive significant benefit from their use; the datasets should have sufficient detail and accuracy for widespread use; and that these datasets cannot be easily or generally substituted. The conditional criteria are that the dataset should be produced as a result of the core mandate of the custodian and that the dataset should be a source for accurately referencing other datasets or for displaying the results of an analysis.

The third recommendation proposed the following criteria for data custodians of base spatial datasets which are to be implemented in consultation with custodians and on an individual bases for each base spatial dataset. There must be a mandated responsibility in the form of legislation, regulations, and policy on the part of the data custodian (compulsory); the data custodian should have sufficient capacity, resources and infrastructure to fulfill the responsibility of a custodian (conditional); and it must be requested by the CSI (compulsory).

Prior to the CSI meeting the Data Sub-committee reviewed and consolidated the list of proposed base datasets. Data custodians were recommended for approximately 86 datasets based on the criteria guidelines and legal mandates. It was decided that approximately 30 of the above datasets required further refinement and several others required in depth investigations. At the CSI meeting, the Data Sub-committee’s recommendation that ten data themes and 33 base spatial datasets be prioritised, was accepted. In addition it was decided that custodians are to be appointed from all spheres of government.

The Data Sub-committee recommended that the definition of a custodian be reviewed to address the ambiguity of the word with regard to accessing and holding of spatial data. At the CSI meeting a facilitating mechanism involving base spatial dataset co-ordinators and base data custodians was adopted to handle cases involving multiple data custodians for a single base data set. The base spatial datasets co-ordinator will be responsible for co-ordinating all data custodians for the specific base data set; ensuring all policy, standards and specifications for the base spatial dataset are adhered to, and will report on data activities to the CSI Data Sub-committee.

In addition to the above, the CSI agreed that ten themes of national importance be prioritised. These include administrative boundaries, imagery, roads, social statistics, land use, land cover, cadastre, hydrology, geodesy and conservation. The road ahead for the CSI includes further refinement of the base datasets, custodians and base spatial datasets co-ordinators for these ten themes. Just as before, this will be a consultative process involving data custodians, base spatial datasets co-ordinators and other interested parties. Policies and standards will also be worked out so that these vital base datasets can “talk to each other” in order to facilitate geospatial solutions that will drive the development of South Africa.


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