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DATA  INFRASTRUCTURE  MATTERS

The Infrastructure of Infrastructures

All the things in our world are located somewhere and are part of some infrastructure, whether it’s the social infrastructure of a community, the green infrastructure of an ecosystem, the utility infrastructure of a sewer system, or the spatial data infrastructure (SDI) of a geographic information system. In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis says “the fragmentation of knowledge and the isolation of bits of information can actually become a form of ignorance, unless they are integrated into a broader vision of reality.” In our interconnected world GIS provide the means for better understanding all the types of interrelated infrastructures of our world that are too often understood in isolation, sometimes with grave consequence. A GIS’s spatial data infrastructure could be considered the “Infrastructure of Infrastructure” which provides a holistic, multidisciplinary vision of the infrastructures of the world.

Providing Context and Direction for Intelligent Data Use

When you start thinking about it, the infrastructure that allows you to flip a light-switch is pretty complicated. Infrastructure is needed for the operation of a society or an enterprise. When you turn on the lights in the morning, fill a cup of water, call someone, or ignite your stove it is all possible due to utility services -- electricity, water, telecommunications, and gas. A way of thinking about an Enterprise GIS is as the utility service department for knowledge management. Maps help national authorities quickly assess existing conditions and plan accordingly, mail carriers deliver packages to the right locations, and people construct buildings. Like electricity, people use maps in a variety of ways and in different qualities. And like electricity, maps are used by most people every day -- whether on a smartphone or drawn on a napkin. The expansion of geographic information system (GIS) technology is helping to develop a world-wide network that is infusing our everyday activities with geographic understanding. GIS is the foundational infrastructure for understanding and managing information in the digital age.

 

A well-designed Enterprise GIS, like a good electric grid, can handle requests of many users and provide media based on those requests. The user can search a complied indices in a user-friendly interface. The platform delivers the services as datasets, maps and customizable applications, the Catholic Geographic System supports the organization and maintenance of the system to deliver these.

 

Services should not be confused with servers -- the information we use is stored on servers. Servers are simply machines that more than once person can access and get information from. An Information and Communications Technology (ICT) service delivers what is needed from servers upon request. For example, email is one of, if not the most commonly used form of ICT Service. Email service providers enable users to send, receive and review e-mail from their Web browsers. Email services offer streamlined access and storage of electronic messages; these can be accessed by any machine simply by going to the email service provider’s website and typing in your email address and password. If each email had to be downloaded and read it would be temporally inefficient and quickly fill up your computer’s storage space, so instead they are accessed on remote servers where email services store them.

 

Most people using ICT receive their service and never think about what is happening behind the scenes. The service is what matters. When you turn on a faucet to get a cup of water the most important thing is that high quality potable water comes out. IT infrastructure is much the same -- behind the scenes, a good enterprise system is not too interesting to most people, but it is immensely important to many people’s digitally connected lifestyles. Most people getting water from a sink are not concerned in the moment about engineering, purification, quality

 

When you start thinking about it, the infrastructure that allows you to flip a light-switch is pretty complicated. Infrastructure is needed for the operation of a society or an enterprise. The Catholic Church and its global community currently has no infrastructure for understanding itself in relation to the world. We're here to enable that.

standards and pipes—they just care about the water delivered to them, or in the case of data, the consumables delivered to the screen in front of them.  If you are considering expanding IT development it’s very important that the system is engineered holistically, with care for detail and maintained well, otherwise what comes out of it, if anything comes out, will be unpotable noisy data that benefits no one, and could even harm through error, so it is better tossed out.

 

All the things in our world are located somewhere and are part of some infrastructure, whether it’s the social infrastructure of a community, the green infrastructure of an ecosystem, the utility infrastructure of a sewer system, or the spatial data infrastructure of a geographic information system. In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis says “the fragmentation of knowledge and the isolation of bits of information can actually become a form of ignorance, unless they are integrated into a broader vision of reality.” In our interconnected world GIS provide the means for better understanding all the types of interrelated infrastructures of our world that are too often understood in isolation, sometimes with grave

 

consequence.  A GIS’s spatial data infrastructure could be considered the “Infrastructure of Infrastructure” which provides a holistic, multidisciplinary vision of the infrastructures of the world.

 

It’s important to acknowledge that maps are not equivalent to the real world. Maps are simply models of information about the world, abstract representations of something that exists. Maps create an analogy between worldly things that we can represent abstractly according to all kinds of ways they are interrelated. Spatial relationships are not always simply about where things are located. Once you have a map you can add information about all the things in the map, and examine control, ownership, hierarchy, and functional relationships. The kind of modeling that GIS enables is applicable not just to objects in the world, but to social structures, economic systems, societies, and cultural artifacts--these things that have no explicit presence in the world but manifest in subtle ways abstract ways revealed by observation, contemplation, and a deeper understanding of relations.

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