Geospatial Information and Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Current Issues and Future Challenges
By: Peter Folger
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)
Geospatial information is data referenced to a place—a set of geographic coordinates—which can often be gathered, manipulated, and displayed in real time. A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer system capable of capturing, storing, analyzing, and displaying geographically referenced information. In recent years consumer demand has skyrocketed for geospatial information and for tools like GIS to manipulate and display geospatial information.
Challenges to coordinating how geospatial data are acquired and used—collecting duplicative data sets, for example—at the local, state, and federal levels, in collaboration with the private sector, are not yet resolved.
The federal government has recognized the need to organize and coordinate the collection and management of geospatial data since at least 1990, when the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) revised Circular A-16 to establish the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) and to promote the coordinated use, sharing, and dissemination of geospatial data nationwide. OMB Circular A-16 also called for development of a national digital spatial information resource to enable the sharing and transfer of spatial data between users and producers, linked by criteria and standards. Executive Order 12906, issued in 1994, strengthened and enhanced Circular A-16, and specified that FGDC shall coordinate development of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI).
Full text (PDF)