This chapter introduces Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI) and establishes their strong conceptual and technical relationships with geographic digital libraries (geolibraries). The authors describe the origin of SDIs and highlight their role as geographic resources providers. Then, they give several examples of the use of techniques and tools taken from the digital libraries world in the development of SDIs. The purpose of this chapter is establishing a solid foundation for those aspects of SDIs that can make profit from the knowledge and tools provided by the digital library community. It will also point the key differences between SDIs and geolibraries in order to provide a broader view of these infrastructures.
The concept of National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) was first defined, for the United States, by the Mapping Science Committee of the National Research Council (1993). In April 1994, Bill Clinton signed an Executive Order (nr. 12906, April 11, 1994) for the establishment of the NSDI, forcing the cooperation among federal and local agencies in collecting, spreading, and using geographic information.
In 1996, the GSDI was created to promote global access to geographic information. Also in 1996, the Australian and New Zealand Information Council (ANZLIC) (http://inspire.jrc.it), an initiative to create a European directive to guide national and regional SDI development. The directive entered into force on May 15th, 2007 (European Parliament and The European Council, 2007).
Nowadays, the GSDI Web site lists several dozens of SDI initiatives, local, regional, and national. Generally speaking, most of these initiatives have common views and objectives for SDI, as first defined by the USA NSDI, though of course they are adapted to the different realities (economical, political) of the geographic areas for what they have been established.