Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Spatial Information Science and Engineering


Harlan J. Onsrud

Second Committee Member

M. Kate Beard-Tisdale

Third Committee Member

Anthony Stefanidis


A wide variety of spatial data collection efforts are ongoing throughout local, state and federal agencies, private firms and non-profit organizations. Each effort is established for a different purpose but organizations and individuals often collect and maintain the same or similar information. The United States federal government has undertaken many initiatives such as the National Spatial Data Infrastructure, the National Map and Geospatial One-Stop to reduce duplicative spatial data collection and promote the coordinated use, sharing, and dissemination of spatial data nationwide. A key premise in most of these initiatives is that no national government will be able to gather and maintain more than a small percentage of the geographic data that users want and desire. Thus, national initiatives depend typically on the cooperation of those already gathering spatial data and those using GIs to meet specific needs to help construct and maintain these spatial data infrastructures and geo-libraries for their nations (Onsrud 2001). Some of the impediments to widespread spatial data sharing are well known from directly asking GIs data producers why they are not currently involved in creating datasets that are of common or compatible formats, documenting their datasets in a standardized metadata format or making their datasets more readily available to others through Data Clearinghouses or geo-libraries. The research described in this thesis addresses the impediments to wide-scale spatial data sharing faced by GIs data producers and explores a new conceptual data-sharing approach, the Public Commons for Geospatial Data, that supports user-friendly metadata creation, open access licenses, archival services and documentation of parent lineage of the contributors and value- adders of digital spatial data sets.