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What is the Geo-Web?

The notion of a Geo-Web can be viewed from various perspectives:

  • Real time syndication or web feed model.
  • Spatial data infrastructure.
  • Real time geographic data publication and synchronization
  • Simulation of the world – real time digital globe
  • From Services to Data – From Data to Services
  • Data is not a local private resource – beyond ETL & Cut and Paste

Real Time Syndication/Web Feed Model

In the news world – the idea of syndicating or integrating information from multiple sources is well understood. With the advent of RSS – we can create a news page that dynamically integrates information from multiple sources or publishers.

In the geographic information world we are moving to doing the same thing but for geographic information – with real time publication and integration of geographic information from multiple sources – from governments (municipalities, regional governments, states) and private corporations (utilities, transportation companies, resource management ..).

Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI)

This is an old idea – even older than the web – by which we would be able to source and integrate geographic information in real time. Most countries in the world have some form of SDI program. These programs have names like CGDI (Canada), NSDI (USA), NSDI(Japan), .. and so on. The main problem with these programs is that they have been national and top down – rather than bottom up and driven from the data sources. So the question of sustainability has been raised over and over again. There is even a Global SDI.

Real Time Data Publication and Synchronization

GML (and the associated WFS specification) provides the means to publish geographic information – independent of the storage model and storage software – and to synchronize such database across the Internet. This means that the technology now exists to realize the objectives of the Spatial Data Infrastructure.

Simulation of the World – The Digital Globe

We can think about a mass of information about the earth as a kind of model or simulation of the earth and the processes taking place on it. This is a very old idea as well dating back to the 60's at least (I am sure it is really much older). We hold this model of the earth in our hand and use it to dream, to plan and transact business with one another. I expect that this view of the GeoWeb will have more currency in the future as we increasingly integrate the environment into our notions of economics.

From Services to Data – From Data to Services

Geographic information is usually not an end in itself. I need information about "where" in order to make decisions. Is this mine likely to be promising? If I can find oil can it be commercially extracted and brought to market? If I go hiking today will I encounter snow? Where are our ships? Will the ones transporting timber get to port on time or be delayed by the storm in the Atlantic? Services like these may depend on access to many kinds of data – from many sources .. they build on the Geo-Web. At the same time they may create yet new data (the ship locations, the planned oil transportation corridor..) which form yet another part of the Geo-Web.

Beyond ETL – Beyond Cut and Paste

The geographic information world today – the world identified with GIS – treats geographic information as if it were a local and almost private resource. People pass around files of data and cust and paste it into their application systems – at best they automate this to a degree with ETL (Export – Transfer – Load) – an automated version of cut and paste. What problems demand – however – is a global and integrated view of geographic information – and that is the objective of the Geo-Web.

All of these ideas – all of these views – are part of the same thing – the Geo-Web.

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