National spatial data infrastructure collaboration for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Alshehri, Saad Abdulrahman F. (2011) National spatial data infrastructure collaboration for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Spatial data is a vital national resource necessary for a country’s efficient and sustainable economic, social and environmental development, and so must be properly developed and managed. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), there is lack of knowledge and no clear framework describing the optimal way for stakeholders, users, providers or administrators, to collaborate effectively in establishing a National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). Moreover, the complex, multi-layer and multi-jurisdiction system of government leads to competing interests and mandates in coordinating spatial activity.

Previous studies on NSDI in KSA focused on technical infrastructure strategy. However, there is a need to study institutional/organisational issues affecting collaboration in NSDI for KSA. This research presented in this thesis leads to recommendations for a best practice, collaboration initiative for Saudi NSDI, and contributes to advancing the goals and implementation of NSDI in KSA.

A mixed (triangulated) quantitative and qualitative case study research design was adopted to assist in achieving the research aims, utilising a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. The data was analysed and elicited concepts to recommend the Saudi NSDI collaboration initiative.

A literature review was conducted in areas relevant to Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) and collaboration. The diverse definitions for SDI, its main components, and hierarchical nature were explored. Definitions for collaboration, motivational factors, and potential risks and costs were also reviewed. While a conventional NSDI is characterised by a top down approach, new technologies connected to social developments have led to a rapid, parallel development of commercial-, and consumer-led SDI, or dynamic ‘GeoWeb’, representing the potential next generation, Web 2.0 form, of NSDI.

Institutional and technical factors are key elements in the success of NSDI collaboration initiatives, which include organisational commitment, policies, and technological resources. The national initiatives for the UK, USA, Australia, and Canada are reviewed and compared, along five key themes: objectives and vision, coordination, datasets, standards, and access. This highlighted the evolving nature of NSDI, given the rapid pace of developments in technology-driven applications and tools, and that coordination and agreement among all stakeholders requires accurate and reliable datasets, widely accepted metadata and standards, and interoperable technology, and must include all government levels and jurisdictions, with greater private sector integration.

The current situation in KSA regarding the main SDI stakeholders, and their historical development, including legislation and policies and the barriers to sharing spatial data existing, facilitates background to understanding the issues involved in developing a Saudi NSDI. This is reinforced by primary data collected through a quantitative questionnaire survey of all 26 spatial data bodies in KSA, and qualitative semi-structured interviews of 72 key persons. The data includes themes, like types of spatial organisation and sphere of operations, data types and themes, standards and technical issues, and inter-organisational relationships and collaboration. The results revealed a lack of collaboration due to negative organisational cultures, and technical obstacles relating to a need for unified spatial data and metadata standards and specifications. In particular, there was an absence of appropriate legislation to deal with the two previous points, as well as providing protection for intellectual property; such legislation would outline a system within which collaboration would take place.

The historical development and current status of key, independent SDI initiatives in KSA, i.e. MOMRA, Riyadh, and Saudi National SDI, are presented using data from secondary and primary sources. Each initiative represents city, ministry, and national level SDI initiative for collaboration.

Finally, this research concludes by providing recommendations for best practice in collaboration among the various stakeholders forming a potential Saudi NSDI. It also outlines suggestions for future work.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Jackson, M.J.
McCullagh, M.J.
O'Hara, S.L.
Keywords: Spatial data infrastructures, Saudi Arabia
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering > Department of Civil Engineering
Item ID: 12174
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2012 14:44
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2017 06:29

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