, Volume 72, Issue 3, pp 149-160

First online:

Reconceptualizing the role of the user of spatial data infrastructure

  • Nama Raj BudhathokiAffiliated withUniversity of Illinois Email author 
  • , Bertram (Chip) BruceAffiliated withUniversity of Illinois
  • , Zorica Nedovic-BudicAffiliated withUniversity of Illinois

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Spatial data infrastructures, which are Internet-based mechanisms for the coordinated production, discovery, and use of geospatial information in the digital environment, have diffused worldwide in the last two decades. Currently, there are about one hundred spatial data infrastructures at the national level and many other at supra- and sub-national levels. These contemporary spatial data infrastructures operate with two main assumptions: formal organizations are the producers and suppliers of geospatial information; users are the passive recipients of information. The recent phenomenon of volunteered geographic information departs from these assumptions. In this paper, we argue that reconceptualizing the user of a spatial data infrastructure can accommodate this new phenomenon. Such a reconceptualization creates a middle ground between spatial data infrastructure and volunteered geographic information, which has important implications for future research.


Spatial data infrastructure Volunteered geographic information Participatory design User Produser Web 2.0