SDI Overview

How it started
The Directorate: National Spatial Information Framework (NSIF) situated in the Department of Land Affairs established the sub-directorate: Standards Development and Implementation (SDI) in an effort to address the vital need for the adoption and adaptation of standards and policies in the South African Geospatial community. The NSIF in conjunction with South African Bureau of Standards, are developing South African National Standards (SANS). Both are members of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). South Africa is a participating member (P member) of the ISO Technical subcommittee (TC211). This means that South Africa has to take part in the development as well as comment on all ISO standards documents.

Why do we need standards?
In the past people or organisations used different methods for acquiring, storing, processing, analysing, and viewing spatial data. Geographic features were classified differently by different organisations. Organisations continued working in silo, and this resulted in duplication of data capture. The objective of developing standards is to ensure free flow of information from one organisation to another. The above objective can only be achieved if we have some kind of sameness in they way we do our GIS. We should be able to have a seamless transfer of data from one system to another. This will not only ensure free flow of information but it will also promote access to spatial information. It is therefore necessary to have organisations taking part in the development of standards of data exchange. The organisations/users of spatial information should direct the NSIF and SABS and other stakeholder in terms of which standards needs to be develop as to address issues that hinder information flow. The NSIF will react to that need as it arises, but the NSIF really depends on the user to identify that need. It will be of no use to develop standards that will not be used. The organisations should ensure that they administer and oversee the formulation of standards, receive/acquire them an implement these standards in their organisations. At the end of the day developing standards will help in avoiding duplication of data capture.

Who should be joining the standard task team?
Anyone is welcomed to join the team. Even if you just want to learn about the new concepts. Or you feel, from your background and experience that you can contribute towards the development of standards in South Africa.

Please e-mail the NSIF at

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