This is the last note of the holiday season. I wish all of our readers the best for this holiday and for the months to come in 2006. I think it will prove to be a good year for GML and for the GeoWeb – perhaps a watershed year.
One thing that GML (and its partner specifications like WFS and FPS/WMS) enable, is the ability to create truly dynamic "maps". By dynamic maps, I mean maps that are updated in real time from sensors, aerial surveys, satellite imagery and so forth. Maps that update as the world changes. This is of course one of the long sought promises of the Internet and GIS – one that until recently we did not have the technology and standards to achieve.
With GML we can now express – in a single encoding – vector geographic features, sensor data (data packets, sensor observations) and imagery. Specific child specifications such as GMLJP2 combine the power of GML with the power of other specifications such as JPEG 2000. This can be expected to develop even further in 2006 with the emergence of WFS/JPIP. Transactional (i.e. update) of imagery and associated features is in the works – this will greatly accelerate data integration and vastly improve existing work flows for the creation and maintenance of geographic information.
For some this is a shock. They think of geographic data as more or less static vector features and little else – but this is so wrong! Is the speed of a vehicle on a highway less "geographic" than the highway itself? Are characteristics of that vehicle or its relation to the environment not also "geography"? Is the weather not so as well. In GML we see the ability emerging, in combination with other specifications, to truly integrate these apparently disparate kinds of information. All of this stems from seeing that GML is NOT a format  – it liberates us all from the binding of information models to file structures – this is a key fact. And one that will drive the development of the GeoWeb in 2006.
Have a great holiday!!