Common Data Interchange Format

Alastair Duncan 100074.213 at
Fri Nov 17 07:00:00 EST 1995

Hello everyone,

I am (for my sins) also on the MapInfo users mailing list - recently there has
been an interesting thread of conversation about a common data interchange
format for all GIS's :-

> William McNamee wrote that it would be nice to have a common interchange 
> format.
> I thought that the Feds were now requiring a common interchange for data 
> that their systems were using.
>> This is correct, the standard is called SDTS (Spatial Data Transfer
>> Standard) and will be mandatory for (as I understand it) all government
>> authorities in the US down to, but not including, tribal government level.
>> As from something like the middle of next year all new data will have to
>> be available in this format and the agencies will have to begin making
>> their old data available in this format. 
>> A standard closely based on SDTS is being put up in Australia and New
>> Zealand, and I believe that the ISO is examining it.
>> This is excellent news for GISers as any GIS supplier which wishes to sell
>> anything to US agencies will have to make this standard available in their
>> packages - goodbye data transfer problems (we hope).
>>> What you are referring to is the Spatial Data Transfer Standard.  In
>>> Australia it is called AS/NZS 4270.  In the US I think it is called FIPS PU
>>> 173.  My understanding was that the US govt. had taken a big stick approach
>>> with GIS vendors (i.e. if you don't supply a SDTS import/export facility,
>>> you don't get our business).
>>>> Yes.  Unfortunately, there are now two competing standards.  I've been 
>>>> following the federal effort for several years now; the private sector has
>>>> its own consortium setting a different standard.  They'll reach some commo
>>>> ground soon.
>>>> The Federal standard is SDTS, Spatial Data Transfer Standard.  The 
>>>> competition is OGIS, Open GIS.  Each has good features.  Probably combine 
>>>> the two.
>>>> And we do need this.

Sounds like good stuff to me !! What I was wondering was whether anyone in the
GRASS community could shed any more light on this, and whether the developers o
GRASS at CERL have started writing or preparing new import / export facilities
that would follow these standard data interchange formats ?? (and please .....
if anyone from the British Ordnance Survey is listening out there ... could you
sort out the horrible NTF data format and consider using the SDTS format in the
future ......)

Cheers, Al.

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