Framework Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)


What are the NSDI and the framework?

The National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) is a means to assemble geographic data nationwide to serve a variety of users. The NSDI provides an environment within which organizations and technology interact to foster activities for using, managing, and producing geographic data.

The framework forms the data backbone of the NSDI. It has three aspects: data, procedures and technology for building and using the data, and institutional relationships and business practices that support the environment. The framework is designed to facilitate production and use of geographic data, to reduce operating costs, and to improve service and decision making.

Why is the framework needed?

Geographic data are essential to many operations, yet they are expensive and time-consuming to produce. Many organizations need the same basic geographic data for their applications and spend precious resources duplicating the same data sets. Others go without data because they cannot afford the production costs. Furthermore, when an application or problem covers more than one jurisdiction, it is often difficult to find and combine existing data. The framework meets these needs by providing a reliable, standardized source for commonly needed and used geographic data themes.

What are the framework data themes?

The framework's seven geographic data themes are geodetic control, orthoimagery, elevation, transportation, hydrography, governmental units, and cadastral information.

Why were these specific themes selected?

The seven themes of geographic data are those that are produced and used by most organizations. Various surveys indicate that they are required by a majority of users, form a critical foundation for the NSDI, and have widespread usefulness. A cooperative approach to producing and sharing these common data benefits most organizations that use geographic data.

Is the framework one data set or many?

The framework consists of many data sets that are, or can be, integrated and related to each other and to other data. Participants may contribute or use any data theme for any geographic area.

Who creates and maintains the framework data?

Framework data are created and maintained by framework participants. Any data theme may have many contributors from different geographic areas, and any geographic area may have many data contributors.

Are the framework data free?

Framework data are made available for the cost of providing data access.

How can I access framework data?

The Geospatial One-stop provides access to available framework data. It is built upon the National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse network that provides metadata for available framework data. Metadata supplies the specific information for gaining access to the data.

What will the framework do for me?

The framework can greatly reduce your time, effort, and expense in using geographic data. It gives data users ready, reliable data in a consistent form. It gives data producers a reference source, standards, and guidance for creating geographic data. The framework also makes it possible to combine data from many sources and areas.

When will the framework be finished?

The framework will develop over a number of years and will be continually improved and maintained. Parts of it are being built now. The basic content and technical, operational and business elements have been defined. Because the framework will be owned by its participants, efforts are concentrated on increasing participation. As more participants use and contribute to the framework, their input will further refine its structure. The framework is an evolving phenomenon. It will continue to grow as the data and participants change. In this sense, it is never "finished" - over time it will become more complete, contain increasing amounts of large-scale data, and become more transaction-driven.

Why should I be involved?

Framework participation is a win-win situation. You benefit from access to data gathered by other participants, and they benefit from access to your data. The data you collect for your own use can help many others when you contribute them to the framework. This shared use also enables you to defray some data maintenance costs, and contributes to the continued viability of your own data. The framework provides reliable data as well as standards and guidance for the development of data. If everyone uses the same standards as a starting point, subsequent data integration will be easier. By participating early, you can help shape the framework.

How can I participate?

The framework is being built through the contributions of many organizations. By building data-sharing environments through partnerships with other organizations, you can reduce the costs of data production and make data available to a wider user base. By following data and operating standards, you can make the data you collect in your own operations compatible with others' data. Templates for framework development are being established. Using these templates for data models, standards, and partnerships will conserve your resources and ensure that your data are compatible with those of others.

Who is leading the effort?

The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) is leading this national effort by facilitating the cooperative efforts of public and private sector organizations across the country that are working together to develop the framework. Local, regional, state, and federal agencies are organizing framework operations in many parts of the country.

Who can I contact to learn more about framework activities in my area?

There are geographic data-sharing and framework-related activities throughout the country. Contact the FGDC to learn more about these activities. You may be able to work with some of these groups to develop framework activities in your area.

What National Geospatial Data Assets (NGDA) Themes are Framework themes?

 See the NGDA Themes page.