Developing national SDI platform for Greece

Mar 2006 | Comments Off on Developing national SDI platform for Greece

This paper aims to develop a National SDI model for Greece incorporating theoretical and conceptual aspects
Spatial information plays important role in the development of the social, economic and environmental sectors. Some of the most remarkable applications for geographic information include: crime management, terrorism prevention, land and business development, flood mitigation, and disaster recovery (SDI Cookbook, 2004).

The need to access spatial data has increased for a number of reasons. The information revolution created an awareness of the importance of sustainable community. The development of information technology enabled people to access data remotely. The rise of e-Government and e-Citizenship requires sharing of digital data to execute easier and citizens to participate more in decision-making process

The Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) has emerged to facilitate the access, delivery and share of spatial information. It also results in greater effi ciency as limited awareness of existing datasets can lead organizations to duplicate data collection and register. SDI is an initiative that creates an environment in which spatial data stakeholders from different jurisdictions can co-operate and thus improve the management and exchange of data in an efficient and cost-effective manner. An SDI operates on various levels including: organizational, local, state, national, regional, and finally global scale (Figure 1). Each level focuses on different details of data, institutional arrangements and issues.

As part of SDI hierarchy, the National SDI has very important role in building the upper levels of SDI as well as stronger relationship with all the other levels than any other level of SDI, within the SDI hierarchy (Rajabifard, et al, 2003). This is because of its critical position in the SDI hierarchy. A National SDI generates a detailed representation of the country and contributes to the improvement of national economy and security, and to better management of environment and natural resources. Thus, National SDI is a vital platform for sustainable development.

In Greece, spatial data stakeholders keep data in various coverage and scales of the jurisdiction. Also, there is some SDI activity, such as the Hellenic Cadastre (HC). However, legal, institutional and technological arrangements have not yet been fully set, so as to build a properNational SDI model. The lack of coordination among the stakeholders leads to the delay of SDI development. The undefined relationship between different organizations is another key issue that hinders the establishment of an SDI platform.

With this in mind, this paper aims to discuss and propose a National SDI platform and the appropriate institutional arrangements and technical components for the Greek community. The examined conceptual framework contains basic steps required for the development of a functioning SDI incorporating the Land Administration (LA) sector and being able to support sustainable development within Greece.

Current activities

In 2000 the Hellenic Mapping and Cadastral Organization (HEMCO), which is under the Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works, proposed the development of the Hellenic SDI, called NaGi2 (National Geographic Information Infrastructure), so as economic, social, environmental and planning activities to be facilitated in Greece. NaGi2 will operate as a distributed network of databases based on a set of interoperable standards. The databases will be electronically connected, and they will provide data from various resources, such as ministries, government organizations and private companies to the widest possible group of users.

As it is published in NaGi2 website (, the proposed core data layers for the National SDI are the following: i) Geodetic reference system, ii) Cadastre, iii) Soil type, iv) Administrative boundaries, v) Land Use, vi) Land cover, vii) Residential zone boundaries, viii) Cultural inheritance, ix) Place names, x) Transportation network, xi) Demography, xii) Hydrology, xii) DSM, xiv) Geology, xv) Utilities network. Also, metadata categories have been proposed as follow: i) Data accuracy, ii) Data analysis, iii) Scale, iv) Spatial reference system, v) Thematic reference system (classification), vi) Responsible sector for the data, vii) Year of data collection, viii) Last update of the data, ix) Permission of copying the data.

To finance the National SDI, a special scientifi c committee, called geoinformation society (geoinfo-soc) was formed (Orshoven and Beusen, 2004). These funds are covered by OPIS, a program under the Ministry of National Economy. Moreover, the HellasGIS, a national geographic information association, joined EUROGI in 2002. HelasGIS consists of 200 members of various public and private sectors and its task is to raise awareness of spatial information need within Greece, through seminars, international conferences, publications and research programs.

Issues and factors

The steps to develop an SDI model vary among countries, depending on country’s background and needs. However, it is important countries to follow a roadmap for the SDI implementation. Following, aspects that are essential to be consider for the National SDI development in Greece will be elaborated. Such aspects include the development of SDI vision, the required improvements in capacity of the country, the integration of different spatial datasets, the establishment of partnerships, and the financial support of National SDI.

Development of SDI vision

Vision within the SDI initiative is essential not only for sectors involved to SDI project but for the general public as well, since it helps people to understand government’s objectives and work towards them. Since Greece already keeps spatial data in advanced, the vision of a Greek National SDI can be stated as highlighted below.


To develop an infrastructure that allows spatial data to be available and accessible to public, private sectors and individuals and to promote proper use of integrated spatial data for effective decision-making process.In order to reach this target, mission development is the primary key, through which the tasks of each involved sector are defined. Thus, the mission of Greek government for the National SDI can be confi rmed as highlighted below.


The establishment of advanced partnership arrangements amongst spatial data users stakeholders and the increase awareness of the importance of integrating built and natural data are essential.

Capacity building

Currently, HEMCO is responsible for coordinating activities relevant to National SDI development in Greece, and it will tender out to academia and private sector necessary subprojects. Figure 2 illustrates the current situation.

The fact that HEMCO is the responsible organization for the National SDI is logical in some aspect, since this organization is responsible for the HC project as well. However, since National SDI encompasses not only built data, as HEMCO keeps, but also natural data and needs high political support, a national level agency or committee is required to coordinate that initiative. HEMCO is an organization, under the auspices of Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works. For that reason an SDI Coordinating Council is proposed at national level being responsible for National SDI in Greece (Figure 3).

The proposed SDI Coordinating Council will provide the leadership required to implement and maintain the SDI initiative. Its priority will be to promote the use of spatial information in a way that underpins sustainable development. Within its responsibilities will be the production of national strategic plans for the management of SDI activities and annual reports detailing the progress of the project. In addition, the SDI Coordinating Council will determine custodianship and promote partnerships. All these activities will be implemented in line with the government’s broad development plan.

The SDI Coordinating Council will consist of the members and the advisors. Each of the members will be responsible for expressing their jurisdiction’s views and plans at the Council and promoting SDI activities within their jurisdictions. Moving to the upper levels of the SDI Coordinating Council, the Ministry of Environmental, Physical Planning and Public Works can act as a secretariat and sometimes as chair as well. The Ministry is able to set HEMCO as the holder for that position, since HEMCO is under its auspices. In this approach, HEMCO will have such a responsible task desirable to its personnel knowledge. The Prime Minister of Greece will act as the chair of the SDI Coordinating Council. The PM will ensure effective coordination and foster partnerships for expansion, since during 2004 Olympic Games preparation, the PM proved effective in tackling the difficulties caused by poor coordination (Potsiou and Ioannidis 2002).

Finally, under the proposed SDI Coordinating Council is the secretariat office, which will manage the necessary Working Groups (WGs). These WGs should be formed in respect of the SDI components and requirements. Members of these groups will be people from academia and industry, having as supervisor a person, member of the SDI Coordinating Council, expert in the field of the WG. The main responsibility of WGs is to manage their tasks and provide proposals to the Council. The structure of the WGs should be flexible to any change and reform, since they exist only to meet country’s needs.

The proposed SDI Coordinating Council provides an overall view of the political support required for National SDI development. It is not the final structure, but the first step. Detailed structure can be achieved within each group with further development of the current proposed one.

Additionally to the institutional arrangements, it is important to focus on improving individual capacity during the development of SDI. This can be achieved by increasing the level of awareness, through seminars, trainings and workshops relevant to SDI and LA concepts and applications. Also, focal point should be the upgrading of educational system in national level. Currently, in Greece, a lot of LA courses are offered in universities and technical institutes. Subjects relevant to SDI have to be taught as well. Keeping people’s knowledge current helps them to adapt with technology and support the evolving SDI concept.

Integration of spatial datasets

In Greece, although cadastral and topographic datasets are kept in advanced, these datasets are developed and managed separately. This is an obstacle in tackling situations that require integration of these datasets, such as the risk management, land cover and use, planning and archaeological protection. The main difficulties for the integration of both datasets are institutional and cultural structures, as highlighted by Rajabifard and Williamson (2005). However, technical part has to be handled with the same level of responsibility, since various Greek organizations, produce their data in different projection systems, which could lead to problems integrating the datasets. Within the National SDI platform, policies and standards will be implemented, so as to foster the integration of various resource data. Moreover, it is essential that the Greek community is made aware of the importance of integrating these two datasets, in order to complete the SDI project quicker and achieve better land management.


In order to achieve successful SDI, good coordination amongst and within all relevant responsible sectors is essential. Partnerships should be dynamic, refl ecting the dynamic relationship among the SDI components. Sound partnerships, also, facilitate the data exchange and sharing, therefore reducing effort and production costs. However, it is diffi cult to achieve thriving partnerships because of diverse priorities among the organizations, lack of awareness of partnerships importance, limited technical components and poor legal framework.

Successful SDI can be achieved through the accurate defi nition of the roles and responsibilities within the partnerships, as proposed by Grant and Williamson (2003). Proper policies and legal framework will also foster the collaboration among Greek stakeholders. Vital to achieve effective partnerships is that the involved sectors have to understand its importance.

Funding model

The funding model has a significant role in a National SDI. It is vital for a jurisdiction to clarify the purpose of the need of a funding model, which in turn should be able to respond to the country’s economic resources (e.g. national and international organizations). In terms of the Greek National SDI, OPIS will control the funding of SDI initiative. Its main target is to manage European Union (EU) funds relevant to geographic information activity and define public and private contribution in the budget (OPIS, 2001).

Although the OPIS is well organized, pricing policy is also essential to be implemented in Greece, since it affects the funding process. Moreover, cost-benefits analysis is essential to be applied and compare the returns with the investment. The profit gained from National SDI should not be only economic, but also social, technical and environmental.

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