Thursday, October 15, 2009

SDI for Everyone

The topic of verbose metadata versus youtube-style metadata (a title and a video) in the context of Spatial Data Infrastructures is not new. Even publishers of geospatial content struggle with the verbose metadata standards that have been created over the years. Those metadata standards were not written with data discovery in mind. They resulted from the need for analysists to fully understand the data they were about to use to ensure it fit their purpose.

With the advent of the content sharing sites like Youtube or Flickr content sharing no longer was limited to the scientific/professional community. Everyone who is willing can share their content with someone else can do so now. With the increased ease of sharing comes a demand for an increased ease of describing the thing you're sharing.

If someone decides to share something, they do this presumably with the intent of someone finding that thing. If you are trying to sell your car on eBay, you will want people to find your car there and you'll try to describe your car such that you attract buyers. A picture of your car may not be sufficient in that case. On the other hand, you don't need to refer to the specifications of every part of the car either.

Different uses, different metadata.

Additionally, the tools used for discovery are different. In addition to going to a specific site (Flickr, Youtube) users expect to find the things they're interested in using their preferred search engine.

These two aspects apply to Spatial Data Infrastructures just as they do to the general audience searching for content on the Web.

With the ESRI Geoportal Extension we're aiming to answer to these two aspects: support different types of metadata and support arbitrary search tools.

This has led to supporting both the verbose FGDC/ISO metadata specifications as well as supporting the ability for someone to register a geospatial service and extracting information from the resource enough to support findability. This is supported on both the ESRI ArcGIS Server services as the Open Geospatial Consortium service types.

The second part of supporting arbitrary search tools is supported through a set of interfaces to the geoportal. These interfaces support both the 'traditional' interfaces as published by the Open Geospatial Consortium and ISO (CS-W 2.0.2 and ISO 23950) as well as OpenSearch or generic RESTful interfaces. In addition we provide an indexable sitemap of the content of the geoportal that follows the profile. This profile is supported by the major search engines.

The Geoportal Extension REST interface supports alerting users of updates to the catalog through GeoRSS notifications that reflect a user's interest. The same interface supports output in KML, HTML, ATOM, and GeoJSON. This has opened the content of the Geoportal to many platforms and search tools. Geospatial users who have desktop GIS tools (ArcMap or the free ArcGIS Explorer) can plug in a simple search tool that leverages these interfaces so that they can find geospatial resources and directly use those in their GIS environment.

With Geoportal Extension we are looking to bridge the gap between discovery and verbose metadata and support both traditional interoperability specifications and the interfaces that are en vogue currently.

SDI for Everyone!

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, right? so here we go:

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