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:

Monday, October 12, 2009


Some things were different at NSGIC 2009 in Cleveland, OH. Perhaps it was the proximity of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame that stirred things up a bit... This time the crowd wasn't just listening to the presentations, they were actively engaged in online conversations using twitter, following #NSGIC2009. People who weren't at the conference got to participate by responding to the posts and asking their own questions. The presentations are now available online at SlideShare, courtesy of NSGIC. While the conference is over the conversations will continue. To me, those conversations are one key aspect of realizing the NSDI and Gov 2.0.

During my presentation, I claimed that: sharing your current authoritative geodata through web services with open API will help build a platform for transparent and accountable government. Simple as that. Open up those data silos, let others use your data creatively to build applications.

I was honored to co-present with Jerry Johnston, GIO of US EPA. Jerry introduced the ChesapeakeStat program that will provide an avenue for publicly tracking and reporting progress of accelerating nutrient and sediment reduction throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including federal lands. A multi-state and federal partnership that will result in a set of web services and applications built on those web services.

ESRI Inc Supports suchs public/private partnerships to collaboratively build a Gov 2.0 Platform, through the provisioning of Map Services and Tasks, a Content Sharing Program, Open Web Mapping API, and Open Source Sample applications. These and more are available at the ESRI resource center at