The Spatial Information Infrastructure (SII) serves the same purpose as the nerve
system for human beings. The nerve system is crucial for the functioning of humans
and covers the information flows from sensory receptors (seeing, hearing) via processing,
analysis and planning (storing information, thinking) and communication (in
speech and writing) to control of actions (walking or moving in other ways, building).
SII forms the nerve system of the human environment, both man-made and natural.
Our society has realized this and after many isolated initiatives is now heading towards
a sustainable SII, in which spatial information or geoinformation can be shared
SII is a new concept and much work remains to be done, both in science and practice, before it can be operational in an effective and efficient manner. Important organizational steps are currently being taken; e.g. the EU Directive INSPIRE and the EU GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) Initiative. Several areas of EU FP7 (the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme) and other programmes support research and development through various projects covering such topics as agreed (formal, machine-processable) definitions of key data sets, definitions of a range of key services (catalogues; viewing systems; data; processing services such as coordinate transformations and buffers), and future geoinformation handling systems (vario-scale spatio-temporal 3D/4D models and processes). SIIs are developed within global initiatives (the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure GSDI), national initiatives such as the 'authentic basic registration system' in the Netherlands, or by single organizations such as the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management in the Netherlands and the multinational company Shell.
GIS Technology, or Geoinformation Technology (geo-ICT), is a part of the more general discipline of geoinformation science. Geoinformation has been applied throughout the world for many centuries or even millennia, so why bother doing scientific research in this area? The answer is that the unprecedented increase in the volume of geoinformation means that we need to find improved ways of handling it. The overall goal of the research at the GDMC (a.k.a. Section GIS Technology) is to provide and/or develop the technology, including the knowledge behind it, needed for the realization of a SII. The impact and potential of geoinformation are growing, because the information and the services needed to deal with it can be readily transported by electronic means via (wireless) networks and geoinformation is more and more combined with emerging sensor, visualization and interaction technologies. SII nodes throughout the world are increasingly using an underlying geo-DBMSs (geo- DataBase Management Systems) to store the geoinformation involved. Many applications make use of geoinformation and related technologies. The GIS Technology group devotes particular attention to developing and/or providing geoinformation technology and knowledge for use in crisis management and spatial information infrastructures.
Crisis (or disaster) management is a very demanding application, where data is coming from various heterogeneous sources, where users come from diverse backgrounds (and are often unfamiliar with geoinformation), the tasks have to be completed in unusual situations (under pressure and stress), and the amounts of information to be processed are enormous. Both existing geoinformation and new geoinformation (obtained from a wide variety of sensors during and after the disaster) are indispensable in crisis management. All aspects of geoinformation handling are challenging. These include real-time data integration from heterogeneous sources (via a reliable SII), integration of 3D indoor and outdoor models, interaction with advanced wireless communication and positioning technologies, performance of realtime 2D/3D spatial analyses and simulations (e.g. for the purposes of evacuation or navigation), 2D/3D geo-visualization, and use of formal semantics to maximize machine 'understanding' of the context of a task or user (by searching for, combining, aggregating and transforming geoinformation).
The pressure on the available space in our physical environment will continue to increase. Managing the scarce resources - land, real estate, roads, railways, waterways and utilities - in an efficient manner requires a huge amount of spatial information (historic, up-to-date and future), together with appropriate processing and dissemination methods. The traditional two-dimensional thinking that has been used for a long time in maintenance, planning and development work is or soon will be no longer fit for purpose. Three-dimensional solutions, taking the space below and above the surface of the earth into consideration, and even four-dimensional approaches (which also take account of the time dimension), are therefore becoming increasingly applied. Tunnels, underground constructions, stacked constructions (e.g. buildings above a road or railway) are becoming more common. These systems will require proper support from 3D spatio-temporal information management. There are multiple sources of geoinformation in use and multiple users of geoinformation, ranging from non-experts to professional users.
Last edits 11-02-2015