Spatial data sets are collected by number of government organisations to support their business processes in Sri Lanka.
These data are managed in closed systems and this has created a multitude of information silos. Spatial information technology skills are highly developed in some of the institutions and the systems used to collect these information are also advanced.
Usage of spatial information across government institutions in a collaborative manner is in significance with respect to the service provisioning and decision making process.
Further, spatial information is not able to be easily shared between organisations currently; nor is it accessible to the broader community. It is difficult to know what information is available and where it is held.
This has led to several organisations collecting the same information because they are unaware that the information already exists.
Organisations across the government recognise that current processes need to be made efficient and that more cooperation across the sector is required.
However, existing data sharing policies are restricting collaboration. There is a significant paper trail of agreements that need to be processed before data sets can be transferred from one organisation to another.
Manual data sharing procedures contribute to delay in sharing, and the effort required to manually integrate updates from one agency to another is labour intensive and time consuming.
The Sri Lanka National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) programme has been conceived by the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) in collaboration with stakeholder institutions to address these issues and facilitate a process of standardising and streamlining the development and sharing of geospatial data across government and other sectors.
This will improve optimum use of spatial data across the government and other stakeholders and for making effective evidence based decisions. NSDI has been identified as one of the key initiatives to populate digital services for the citizens of the country.
Sri Lanka NSDI could be accessed through ’www.nsdi.gov.lk’ where it consists of three components, the website, Geoportal and Metadata Catalogue.
Apart from these components, there are five decision making tools for five organisations developed to demonstrate the functionality and capability of integrating any decision support applications to this platform.
It is a secure technology platform for spatial data sharing and exchanging. It aims to provide centralised facility for spatial data discover, view, query and download along with spatial based decision making tools to use across government, private sectors and the community.
Metadata Catalogue allows users to understand the ownership, data age, data quality, scale and other information about the data layers available in the NSDI Geoportal.
The NSDI needs the active involvement of all stake holders to build their own decision support applications for their business processes using NSDI as the base platform and to share the spatial information with others.