The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

On the Future of Topographic Base Information Management in Finland and Europe

Antti Jakobsson

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Department of Surveying for public examination and debate in Auditorium E at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 9th of June, 2006, at 12 noon.

Overview in PDF format (ISBN 951-22-8206-2)   [6831 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 951-48-0192-X)


Topographic information management is essential for the future of National Mapping Agencies (NMAs). Information economy, globalisation, government reorganization and users expectations will change many mapping agencies during the coming years. The implementation of Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDIs) and the meeting of business objectives are major challenges and could have contradictory goals. This research investigated how topographic base information management at the national and European levels might be based on multiple data sources and how information and quality management principles could be utilized for this. Four topics are covered: management of topographic information in Finland, user requirements and the data quality of basic topographic data, Geographic Information Quality Management (GIQM) of topographic base data and European cooperation between NMAs.

The first part of the dissertation introduces the history of topographic mapping in Europe and especially in Finland. The development of SDIs is explored and information management concepts related to basic topographic information are described. The standardization of geographic information is reviewed from the technological, organizational, process and data viewpoints. Geographic Information Quality (GIQ) is described from the quality management viewpoints. The role of harmonization and interoperability in the development of SDIs and related to reference data is discussed.

The research corpus consisted of seven papers and results of a separate research project on the use of municipality data for the Topographic Database. The first two introduced models for topographic information management (Basic Topographic Framework [BTF]) in a multi-producer environment using a database(DB)-driven production paradigm. Quality evaluation practices and quality management principles were studied in a number of European NMAs as part of the work of the EuroGeographics Expert Group on Quality. The standardization of geographic information quality was examined through participation in ISO 19100 work. The usability of the Topographic Database was evaluated using two different applications (land cover mapping, and 3D visualization). User requirements were studied in connection with mobile applications as part of the GiMoDig project. European reference datasets were studied covering thirty-three European countries based on a questionnaire given to the NMAs as part of the EuroGeographics' EuroSpec project.

Finally, the BTF model was evaluated by a case study using municipality basemap data. This part of the research investigated the possibility for a unified specification of topographic information in Finland. Current data catalogues were analysed and the connection between them was established. Empirically, data from four municipalities were used to form a simulated Topographic Database in test areas utilizing only data from municipalities. A quality evaluation of the results was made using visual field inspection. The status of municipality basemaps was explored using a questionnaire. Responses were gained from 135 municipalities. The user requirement study included 13 interviews with 16 participants covering most significant resellers and customer groups of the National Land Survey of Finland.

Implementation of the Basic Topographic Framework (BTF) combining all basic topographic datasets into a unified database is feasible if based on case studies. It is suggested that implementation be based on the Geographic Information Quality Management (GIQM) model combining geographic information quality standards and quality management. Results support the idea that the TDB and topographic databases in general have a key role in the implementation process of SDIs, and that topographic information provides an essential element for reference datasets. Based on user requirement analysis, it is suggested that the NMAs in Europe should introduce harmonized specifications, because many applications could be developed for large consumer markets, if such common datasets were available. It is further suggested that topographic information should be connected with other datasets in order to support user requirements. Investigation of European reference information concludes that harmonization of data specifications have not yet been initiated at the national level and that international geographic standards have not yet been implemented. However, national mapping and cadastral organizations (NMCAs) have an important role in providing reference datasets in Europe. Topographic datasets together with cadastral datasets were identified as one of the main sources of reference information in Europe. Results support the idea that a common data specification for topographic data is feasible at some level. A questionnaire given to Finnish municipalities demonstrate the importance of municipality data in built-up areas. Case studies and an analysis of data catalogues suggest that basemaps can be utilized to compile the TDB in built-up areas supporting the presented BTF model. In Sweden and Denmark, the use of municipality data has progressed significantly, which supports the presented model. Especially in Denmark, the reduction of the number of municipalities has increased the need for cooperation. User requirement results suggests that some improvements are needed in the present data catalogues.

This thesis consists of an overview and of the following 7 publications:

  1. Jakobsson, A. and L. Salo-Merta, 2001. Definition of a Basic Topographic Framework for National GI Policy – One Database for All Basic Topographic Data. In: Proceedings of the 20th International Cartographic Conference (ICC 2001), Beijing, China, Vol. 4, pp. 2197-2205. © 2001 International Cartographic Association. By permission.
  2. Jakobsson, A., 2003. Framework and Requirements for Management of Topographic Data in Europe. In: K. Virrantaus and H. Tveite (editors), Proceedings of the 9th Scandinavian Research Conference on Geographical Information Science (ScanGIS'2003), Espoo, Finland, pp. 91-102. © 2003 Helsinki University of Technology. By permission.
  3. Jakobsson, A., 2002. Data Quality and Quality Management – Examples of Quality Evaluation Procedures and Quality Management in European National Mapping Agencies. In: Wenzhong Shi et al. (editors), Spatial Data Quality, London, Taylor & Francis, 313 p., pp. 216-229. © 2002 Taylor & Francis. By permission.
  4. Jakobsson, A., 2002. The Topographic Database as an Integral Part of the Finnish National Spatial Infrastructure – Analysis of the Present Situation and Some Possibilities for the Future. Finnish Journal of the Surveying Sciences, Vol. 20, No. 1-2, 2002, pp. 92-107. © 2002 Finnish Society of Surveying Sciences. By permission.
  5. Jakobsson, A., 2003. User Requirements for Mobile Topographic Maps. Report of the GiMoDig project, 93 p. © 2003 Finnish Geodetic Institute. By permission.
  6. Jakobsson, A., 2005. European Reference Datasets for European Spatial Data Infrastructure – State of the Art and Development of Common Specifications. In: Proceedings of the 22nd International Cartographic Conference (ICC 2005), A Coruna, Spain, cd-rom. © 2005 International Cartographic Association. By permission.
  7. Jakobsson, A. and J. Marttinen, 2003. Data Quality Management of Reference Datasets – Present Practice in European National Mapping Agencies and a Proposal for a New Approach. In: Proceedings of the 21st International Cartographic Conference (ICC 2003), Durban, South Africa, cd-rom. © 2003 International Cartographic Association. By permission.

Keywords: topographic information, quality management, harmonization, basemap, joint-use of geographic information, semantic interoperability, data quality, map production, spatial data infrastructure, history of national topographic mapping

This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for Your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.

© 2006 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26