New NDSA Report: Issues in the Appraisal and Selection of Geospatial Data

Digital mapping information is an essential part of the backbone of our economy through the now-widespread consumer applications that allow us to track our location, find a nearby restaurant or guide us on a journey. While largely invisible to the casual user, the geospatial data that underpins these applications allows us to know what our landscape looks like at this instant, and increasingly, to see where we’ve been at a level of previously unimagined detail.

While these tools are clearly incredibly valuable, it’s not entirely clear how we manage and preserve the equally valuable geospatial data that underpins the applications to ensure that we have the ability to analyze changes to our landscape over time.

With that in mind, we are pleased to announce the release of a new National Digital Stewardship Alliance report, “Issues in the Appraisal and Selection of Geospatial Data” (pdf).

The report has been a long time coming. It began life as a position paper released in advance of the Nov. 2010 Digital Geospatial Appraisal meeting held at the Library of Congress. The position paper was authored by Steve Morris, the Head of Digital Library Initiatives and Digital Projects at the North Carolina State University libraries, who has a long engagement with NDIIPP through his work on both the North Carolina Geospatial Data Archiving and GeoMAPP projects.

The latest iteration of the report took Mr. Morris’ work and applied the expertise of the Geospatial Content Team of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance to consider both appraisal and selection activities as they effect decisions defining geospatial content of enduring value to the nation.

The report provides an illuminating background on the problem area, then suggests ways to establish criteria for appraisal and selection decisions for geospatial data. It then proposes some models and processes for appraisal and selection, including tools for the identification and evaluation of data resources and triggers for appraisal and selection,  and finishes with further questions for the community to explore.

Now we’ve got some guidance. What are the next steps?