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Scholten, H.J., LoCashio, A., Overduin, T.: Towards a spatial information infrastructure for flood management in The Netherlands. Journal of Coastal Conservation, 4: 151-160, 1998.


Abstract. The immense value of a geographic information system for flood control has been experienced by the decisionmakers of the Dutch province of Gelderland during the flood of the Rivers Meuse (Maas) and Waal in January 1995. Superimposing different ‘data layers’, GIS-experts could detect the weak parts in the dikes and generate an evacuation plan. Shortcomings within the organization were experienced as well: important data could not be retrieved, and the coordination of efforts by the different governmental departments and institutions was not optimal. To overcome these shortcomings and to optimize the modelling process, a spatial decision support system (SDSS) is being proposed, aggregating several models, heuristic and procedural, into integrated software tools. As becomes clear from two cases of flood control described, ‘emergency managers’ should be able to communicate about spatial data available and have access to selected spatial data. In order to improve communication between data sources, data processing and the use of relevant spatial data in GISs, a new ‘Spatial Information Infrastructure’ (SII) needs to be developed. This requires both technical and organizational solutions and standards. Proper documentation of the data will allow the GIS-experts to more quickly find, store, update and reuse the data. A range of ‘metadata’ services exist documenting data sets, typically limited by thematic or national boundaries. There are no standards in common practice for structuring and classifying spatial information. The user of spatial information cannot easily browse across Web-sites and compare products from different suppliers. Even if the search has been successful, the user all too often has to face a complex process of negotiation, and highly technical data integration issues. A consortium of European GIS-experts has addressed these problems and launched the ‘European Spatial Metadata Infrastructure’ (ESMI) project with the objective to link existing and future metadata systems using Internet.

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