The Global Map Experience

Sep 2007 | Comments Off on The Global Map Experience

D. R. Fraser Taylor

Progress in the creation of an operational Global Spatial Data Infrastructure

Challenges for the Future of Global Map and SDIs

Global Map is an important set of framework data but Global Map coverage needs to be updated on a regular basis. There is also a need to ensure that Global Map standards and specification are updated and become more fully interoperable with emerging standards and specifications being developed by both ISO and OGC. When Global Map was first initiated in the 1990s it used the best standards and specifications available at that time. Since then, however, technological progress has been very rapid and, as a result, Global Map standards and specifications are now being revised to meet the current situation. Interoperability is central to any SDI regardless of the scale of operation at global, regional, national and sub-national levels. It is, perhaps, the major challenge and opportunity for the geo-spatial community. In this respect interoperability between emerging products, such as the KML based Google Earth and the GML/XML based GIS World are of special importance.

Another challenge for Global Map is increasing its visible contribution to the central issues for which is was designed – environmental issues and sustainable development. Global Map must move from a supply-driven initiative to much more of a demand-driven initiative. New uses for Global Map, especially in education, are emerging and one important new initiative is the use of the Global Map network for disaster management and mitigation.

Global Map also has an important role to play in global observation and is playing a very active role in GEOSS, especially in the area of framework data creation.

Global Map is by definition a small-scale initiative and for many problems the scale is too small to effectively address them. This is also true for small nations, especially small island states. Global Map is now accepting data at 1:250,000 for such states which will help to address the problem. A more effective solution, however, is to ensure that Global Map as an operational global spatial data infrastructure is interoperable with larger scale regional national and sub-national SDI initiatives so that maximum use can be made of geospatial information.


Global Map is an important international initiative. Unlike the International Map of the World which failed to meet its objectives Global Map is on track to complete its coverage by the end of 2007 and to create a sustainable long term framework for digital maps of the world at a global scale.


D. R. Fraser Taylor

Chair, International Steering Committee for Global
Mapping Distinguished Research Professor
Department of Geography and Environmental
Studies Carleton University, Canada
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Mark your calendar
May 09 TO DECEMBER 2009

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