Information Supply Chains and Horse Meat Lasagne

 I’m going to focus in on the spatial domain but everything below applies equally well to any other part of the IT sector.

We use LINQ to portray Spatial Data Infrastructure in a new light.  We’ve put a series of infographics up at  These depict public SDI in New Zealand and British Columbia in terms of information flows from authoritative sources and thus represent the base of information supply chains.

To use specific examples: Land Information New Zealand is the authoritative source of parcel and topographic data; Statistics New Zealand is the authoritative source of administrative boundary data.  They both provide services and files of that information which we depict like this:

Graphic 1

You’ll see that we depict file provision using dashed red arrows and information services as solid black arrows.  That’s to denote the fact that file transfer is rarely as efficient or effective as a web service of information.  If you’re unsure why this is so, please comment and a fuller explanation will be provided.

When an organisation such as a local council consumes these authoritative sources of information, the information supply chain then connects to that organisation:

graphic 2

Once again, the local council is a ‘black box’ that will contain information supply chains that will connect these authoritative sources of information to a wide range of enterprise applications that in turn serve a wide range of business outcomes.

Since we’re looking at public-facing capabilities, we can see that the council produces public facing services – including maps for public access.  Those maps are powered by accessible information services, resulting in an information supply chain that now looks like this:

graphic 3

We have now completed the information supply chain from source to application.  This is important because we’re beginning to understand the business benefits of Spatial Data Infrastructure.  How?  Because I can sketch out an improvement over this current state information supply chain:

graphic 4

In this case, the transition is from inefficient file transfer (requiring resource and thus cost in the council to process into their enterprise systems) to more efficient web services of that information. LINQ can measure the precise operational cost improvement of that transition by tracing the information supply chains through that local council.

In the examples above, the information supply chains establish a clear connection between the sources of authoritative information (LINZ and Statistics NZ) and the use of that information in a council application. So what happens if an organisation chooses to use Google Maps to depict the parcel, topographic and boundary information?  In this case, all we can say about the information supply chain is this:

graphic 5

This diagram suggests that Google is supplying the basemap with the Maps for Work API which the council has used to add its own KML services of overlay information.   We can infer that there’s a supply chain connecting LINZ and Statistics NZ to the Google Map basemap but we know nothing about the supply chain.  Of gravest concern is when the information was supplied to Google. There is a Map Data ©[date] Google notice across the bottom of the map but we know that not all data was refreshed at that date; the notice tells us nothing about the refresh of each layer.

In most other sectors, an inability to trace a supply chain would be unacceptable:  a food manufacturer that doesn’t understand its supply chain ends up with horse meat lasagne;  a car manufacturer would end up with hugely expensive recalls as poor quality parts fail in the delivered vehicle.

In IT generally, and specifically in GIS the information supply chain needs to be seen in a similar light;  if you don’t understand the genealogy of your information, why would you base a business-critical decision on that information?

We’ve created LINQ to address this challenge by providing tools to quickly and easily capture the information supply chains that underpin all applications in every organisation in the world.  We’re also developing a wide range of analytic capabilities to provide powerful insights into the efficiency and effectiveness of those information supply chains.

Take a look at our progress and watch our proof of concept video;

We’d love to hear your feedback – either in the comments below or by directly contacting us.

To learn how information supply chains can transform how you think about, plan and communicate your enterprise IT environment, please download our white paper.

Download the LINQ White Paper