Comprehensive Overview of the Geoweb
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Comprehensive Overview of the Geoweb



Parts 3 and 4 of a comprehensive look at the Geoweb, based on well defined web2.0 patterns and examples as well as organice buzz within the Geoweb community. For a detailed summary, see ...

Parts 3 and 4 of a comprehensive look at the Geoweb, based on well defined web2.0 patterns and examples as well as organice buzz within the Geoweb community. For a detailed summary, see



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  • What is the geoweb?People use the term like it is a tangible thing, like they know what it is, like it existsStory course nameDepends on who your are talking tooWhat their perspective is.From what angleTechnologists GovernmentUsersVendorsOld School Geogeeks (GIS)To get a full definition, we need to look at if from all angles because I’m not sure which is right
  • Many things is not about (at least each by themselves)
  • Its not just something that is driven or lives in the context of a GIS. Much larger scope
  • Geoweb = Google Earth isn’t true. This is a component, manifestation of Geoweb but isn’t the end allInterfacing with the geoweb
  • Its not even about webmaps or slick web mapping applications.
  • Not just about code,api’s, sdk’s
  • What it is collectivelylook at it from all angles
  • History, what is the historical story of the geowebIts rootsWhere and whyevolution
  • From a scientist/GIS professionals perspectiveGIS Online: Distributed GISGIS foundation resonatesGIS in the browserFull functionality
  • Governments talk about data sharing and SDI (spatial data infrastructure)Federated GISOrganized and dictated from over-arching standards (FGDC, W3C)Top down approach
  • VendorsAll things geo live on the web“Our GIS platform is the web”Emerging marketsBusiness strategies
  • Users/ConsumersNotion of the Geoweb and how these people use the data.Users(non-technologists, content specialists)Consumers (general public)Now I as a consumer can express myself geographically (very popular and powerful)
  • Change is a big one. GIS industry changes slowly. Geoweb represents change. Geoweb is set of processes related to user preferences, user behaviors, technological advancements, Cultural changes. Business processes, and workflows. Accelerated pace (telephone, 20 year adoption, tv 15 years, PC 5 years, mobile phones couple of years, Now down to a year for most things, 500,000 downloads of GE a day average since it was released) 10 billion youtube videos per month – 5 years ago it wasn’t even here. Google Maps API: 470 changes in 4 years. Almost everytime you use it, its differentProblem withGIS legacy: quality, documentation, system complexity but doesn’t adapt to change
  • And then of course, there are standardsNeed for standardization has been around a long time.Munster Cathedral in Germany: Carvings of standardized sizes of bread loafsStandards organizations (OGC, FGDC, ISO, W3C)Attempt to find a common understandingProblemContent specialistsTend to be too complicated: Hard to implement
  • And then there are the implementers-technologists for technology sake:FormatsArchitecturesArchitecturesTechnologiesSpecificationsPlatforms and frameworks
  • So what is it?Use an organic approach (the buzz), examples, existing landscapeThen Formalized Web 2.0 PatternsFinally, use the following analogy of an Ecosystem
  • First introduce the notion of an ecosystem because that is the best way I can think to describe it. As we review concepts, characteristics, etc of the Geoweb, keep this definition in mind.Following on this theme, I am going to look at the Geoweb from an organic perspective, looking at what leaders in the community are saying about it,
  • A good way to characterize the historical perspective is to look at the Geoweb evolutionLots of concepts here (history, legacy, top down vs bottom up approach)Geoweb, or at least how we see it has undergone an evolution
  • So naturally, in the beginning, the geoweb was online maps. Internet Mapping Some interactivity, but basically digital representation of something that has been around for a very long time—mapHeavy emphasis in cartography. Some traditional GIS like interactivity (identify, zoom)Not formally definedPossible DefinitionsUsing the materials available on the Internet to help to gather information, create maps, and distribute that information via the Internet.To utilize the Internet for creating and using mapping related software.Creating, displaying, and using spatial information on the world wide web.Accessing the web to create and display maps, using the most up-to-date GIS
  • Distributed GIS: Fully distributed GIS functionIntegration – GIS operations or components merged with basic IT operationsOpen and Independent – from hardware, operating systems, etc…Minimal Infrastructure – Rent operations and data rather than buy itGIS platform independent – no need to lock into a specific GIS platformTechnology Shift – monolithic and resource heavy to flexible, plug and playGIS vendors Refocus – components developed by smaller GIS vendorsVery specialized and domain specificVendors don’t have to be all things to all peopleality of the web
  • And then 2005 hit, Gmaps, Gmaps API and Gearth, OGC standards matured. IT guys got involved.But, everyone has involvement: GIS hits web 2.0Elected officials even know about geospatial data, terms, conversion etc….(mayor spoke before him)
  • Internet Mapping (Grasslinks, ArcView IMS, ArcIMS, MapServer)Online maps, cartography, map publishingDistributed GIS (ArcIMS, ArcGIS Server, Oracle Spatial, MapServer)Web Services & Service OrientedTechnical UsersWeb based (distributed) traditional GIS functionalityRelatively CostlyService BUS and Enterprise GISSpatial Data InfrastructuresGeoweb (Open Source, Geobrowsers, Lightweight APIs, GoogleMaps)Minimal tradional GIS functionalityContent and discovery center, not functional or data centeredService OrientedWeb 2.0Cheaper and simpleConsumer driven – non technical >>NeogeographyUsers demand rich experiences (NO MORE WAITING)
  • Sometimes, these changes or stages of evolution follow a well defined modelGartner Hype CycleExplain Hype CycleWhere are we at with the Geoweb in the previous contextHow might the previous incarnations of the Geoweb looked like in this hype curve.
  • Very much so.Traditional view has been through data portalsGIS data centric.GIS user needs drivenTop Down approachGeoweb as a federated GIS: Enabling Data Sharing: Spatial Data infrastructure.Top down approach.Standards drivenGovernment oriented
  • Explain in detail how a SDI worksCatalogue of metadata referencing distributed geospatial resourcesInterconnected catalogues feeding into master portalsTraditional search and discover modelPassive user participationAuthoritative data sources
  • Traditional Spatial Data Infrastructure Doesn’t work.Try and search for something in anything: Google Maps,, geodata.govInterfaces OKSearch technology badMetadata never gets updated, xml isn’t all that easy for peopleGoogle search not the solution: most people only looks at first page of results so people game Google (Ads) Jason BirchESRI Restful API is searchable by googleZen: Simple related to usability.
  • James Fee argues that services directory of ArcGIS Server is a potential good solutionIndex by search enginesLinks to related contentNot complicated, machine and human readable
  • Geoweb for content specilialists (scientists and engineers): Traditional GIS in a browserVery specialized requirementsScientists need to be able to access very complex capabilitiesComplicates requirements, system design, decreased usability.Distributed GISLots of layers and capabilities. Specialized functions
  • Standards
  • Consumer oriented GeowebEvery news cast not has its fancy globe zoom inMissing girl Google Map BackyardAll news oriented communication is using a geospatial component“Geoweb is a platform for integrating media”“Popularized geo-annotating the Planet”“Can be used to tap into existing knowledge repositories, integrating them by geo-enabling them” – all being presentable in a popular media context”“Geography is the primary means of structuring media”
  • But it goes further than just the media, everyday usersGoogle Earth, ArcGIS Explorer, Google Maps, Bing, Mapquest, Car navigationTravel plansEveryone has a GPS, upload data into systemYou can track down your highschool friendsDirections go without saysGiven that Geo has hit mainstream, we as Geoweb pros have more to be concerned with now, outside of our traditional GIS roots. User expectations and Usability.
  • Given the top down standards, GIS people and technologists comfort level of change vs consumer oriented (fast, non complex) expectationsWe are faced with a cataclysmic collision Technologist building systems because they can vs what people really want in a systemGIS people building systems like a GIS vs how people will really use them (Google)Do we really need 50 layers and a TOC?This transitions our discussion into a characteristic of the Geoweb that is critical--Usability
  • From a distributed GIS perspective (Enterprise level): Citrix works just fine.If your audience is non-techiesDon’t need to rebuild an online GIS
  • Hide Complexity: Forester/trees, realitor/home, most don’t know or care about buffers, intersect, etc…When a roadway project manager asks for all structures near her project, without knowing it she really means,“Locate point features in the Structures layer that fall within 1 mile of the section of Route 6A between mile posts 12 and 25.”A GIS professional would know that getting this information requires an initial point selection, followed by a buffer, an intersection with a second layer (roads), followed by a buffer of the resulting road segment, followed by an intersection of the second buffer with the structures layer.Roadway manger doesn’t care about this.Eliminate layers: Difficult (base vs operational)Hide the details: Don’t necessarily need a individual user interface elements for every operation, buckets of data not neededProvide Feedback: Either passively our actively. Passively by not providing individual tools to complete a workflow. Relates to hiding complexity.Handle the null case: If the user does something, that yields no results, let the user knowIf a service is unavailable and the user tries to turn it on, let them know what is going on.Protect Users From Themselves:Validate immediately, dropdown with options, as typed datePerformance: FAST, FAST, FAST if not instant, let the use know that they are waiting, kind of related to provide feedback.
  • The rest of us=users of our applications in generalScientists/Engineers=content specialists, embracers of complexity80, 20 scenerio: 20% of requirements meet 80 percent of user expectations vs. 80 percent of requirements for only 20% users
  • So now the geekyness.We are going to be looking a geekyness all semesterOne good way of characterizing the state of the Geoweb with regard to geekyness is by discussing the formats of the Geoweb (we all know about formats)
  • Shapefiles:File format, proprietary but common, most packages can use, gov download,Miny database, not linkages, troubling standard shortfalls (12 char fields). File system basedMicroformats: Simple and aligned with well established standard: HTMLGeoRSS: Real Simple Syndication with geography embedded. Problem is RSS can be RDF, RSS, ATOM and 3 flavors of geo (simple, gml, w3c)KML: HTML of the web. Michael Jones at geoweb 2009: 250000 sites with kml with 500 million kml files with 2 billion placemarks, robust but comes from proprietary roots, often leading to vender specific abiguityGeoJSON: Javascript Object Notation: Serializing JS objects in text string with geo component, comes from JS api lineage (DOJO), nothing more than arbitrary collection of JS object, no formal schemaGML: Non abitrary xml schema for representing geographic resources. Very rich. Very complex. More times than not, only simple geographic constructs are neededService Standards (Interfaces): Communication specifications, means of invoking or making requests for the number of formats stated above.
  • Representing these formats using our previously defined Web2.0 Reference Architecture and using terminology that is more REST like
  • Any number of problems with these standardsSelf discription via mime-type: client needs to know what it is gettingFile size: Geographic data is notoriously large, imagine encoding 10,000 oil and gas wells as text and streaming it over the internetComplexity scope: Simplicity of format and specification for adoption sake but still needs complexity to meet needed requirementsGeoRSS being to simple, GML being too complex. Need some middle ground
  • Given our foundational disscussion related to web 2.0 patterns, lets look at these in action within the Geoweb.
  • SOA Implementation as it relates to the GeowebMore in a later unit but more or less, it is web services based on how the web really worksRepresentational State Transfer2000doctoral dissertation about the web written by Roy Fielding, one of the principal authors of the HTTP protocol specification, and has quickly passed into widespread use in the networking community No messaging or wrappers just HTTP goodness (Get, Post, Delete, Update)Grass Roots, Alternative to “Big Web Services”85% of Amazon’s web services users are REST users
  • SaaS and the Geoweb: Cloud Computing and GIS
  • Participation CollaborationMaduriindia – user generated data, not purchased, maybe show transition, goes with collaboration. Santiago Chile is another examples, data can’t be purchased. They call it collaborative base map.Whatever product you created can be better if users can participate.Users in Google maps can edit the location of things that are in the index
  • Mashup and AJAX
  • I hope I have given an nice spectrum of things to think about.One idea that seems to keep surfacing is a definite dichotomy.Technological perspective: Top-down vs bottom upIdeological Perspective: GIS and IT
  • OpenStreetMaps from 140,000 and growing contributors, we’ve seen the animations of 500 million KML points from Google
  • Related to the evolutionCould tie the current look of what the geoweb to Google Maps coming on the seen: embraced by IT industryPreviously: Distributed GIS: rooted in GIS
  • First introduce the notion of an ecosystem because that is the best way I can think to describe it. As we review concepts, characteristics, etc of the Geoweb, keep this definition in mind.Following on this theme, I am going to look at the Geoweb from an organic perspective, looking at what leaders in the community are saying about it,
  • Unit implies a discrete class, something that is definableBiotic Factors: Web 2.0 and us, users expectations, needs, requirements, participants of web 2.0 (collab, part pattern)Abiotic Factors: Relationships: All of these things
  • Semantics: What we do with the web:Integrate information, search, data mineTypically done in different contexts (cousel browsing, emergency response)Problem: Think of how ineffcient our use of the web isDo a search and you get a lot of information that isn’t relavent to what you asked forsearch for the term agentIntegration: When integrating data, say web services, still need human involvement, Ambiguity:Ambiguity handled by humansWhat we want:Machines or agents to help answer questionsRead scenerioHow do we do this:Provide context to terms so that machines understand How is this done, AI, folksonomies, etc…

Comprehensive Overview of the Geoweb Comprehensive Overview of the Geoweb Presentation Transcript

  • Comprehensive Overview of the Geoweb
    Introduction to the Geoweb
    Gregory L. Gunther
    University of Colorado at Denver
    Introduction to the Geoweb
    Gregory L. Gunther
    University of Colorado at Denver
  • ?
  • !=
  • =
  • What Do You Think?
    “spatially enabled and access over the internet”
    “complete integration and use of location at all levels of the Internet and the Web”
    Before this course: “simply as interactive maps published on the internet, through platforms such as ArcIMS or simple web enabled flash maps”
    “digital representation of the real world”
    “internet technologies to get and share geospatial information”
    “massive community of applications”
    “kids would use to learn geography”
  • (Jones, 2009)
  • Flex
  • ?
  • “An ecosystem is a natural unit consisting of all plants, animals and micro-organisms (biotic factors) in an area functioning together with all of the physical (abiotic) factors of the environment. Ecosystems can be permanent or temporary. An ecosystem is a unit of interdependent organisms which share the same habitat. Ecosystems usually form a number of food webs…”
    (Ecosystem, 2009)
  • (Public display of this image is not permissible.)
  • Consumers/Developers
  • Evolution of the Geoweb
    Online Maps
    Distributed GIS
  • Data Accuracy and Integrity/Capabilities
    User Technical Level
    Web 2.0 Patterns
    Distributed GIS
    System Design/Usability
  • Gartner’s Hype Cycle
    (Understanding Hype Cycles, 2009)
  • Geoweb: Platform For Data Sharing
  • Spatial Data Infrastructure
    (Public display of this image is not permissible.)
  • Barriers To Data Sharing: At Least the SDI Approach
    “ is the worst example of data sharing available”
    “Finding stuff with a map is the way to go”
    “Time to kill metadata”
    “Information for the casual user”
    “Geoportals don’t work because they are created by experts for experts”
    “Comes down to GeoZen”
    “Metadata should be machine created”
    (Fee, 2009)
  • ho
  • Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)
    Web Mapping Service (WMS)
    Web Feature Service (WFS)
    Catalogue Services Interface (CAT)
    Geographic Markup Language (GML)
    Keyhole Markup Language
    Metadata standards
    ISO 19115
    Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM), Vers. 2
    Dublin Core
    Web Service Standards (SOAP)
  • (Scharl, et. al 2007)
  • “Since internet users now have a myriad of choices in where they go for information, we as professionals should be designing highly usable systems that give users relevant information…and give it to them right now. If we don’t, they’ll simply
    go somewhere else.”
    (Noyle, 2009)
  • Usability and the Geoweb
    Lesson 1: Hide Complexity
    Lesson 2: Provide Feedback
    Lesson 3: Protect Users From
    Lesson 4: Performance
    (Noyle, 2009)
  • Flex
  • Turner’s Characterization of Geoweb formats
    Microformats (geo) (XML)
    GeoRSS (XML)
    KML (XML)
    Others (GeoPDF, JPEG2000)
    Service Standards (Interfaces)
    WMS, WFS, SOAP, OpenSearch-Geo, RESTful style
    (Turner, 2009)
  • Formats as Representation
    HTTP Goodness
    Representations of a
  • “GeoRSS, KML, and GeoJSON are the itching powder, squirting ink pen, and dribble cup of geodata formats.”– Sean Gillies
    (Turner, 2009)
  • Common Web 2.0 Patterns Influencing the Geoweb
    Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)
    Software as a Service (SaaS)
    Asynchronous Particle Update
    Rich User Experience
    Collaborative Tagging
    Structured Information
    Formulated By Real Examples….
  • SOA Debate for the Geoweb
    “Is the web”
    Bottom up approach
    Stateless, cacheable, layered, linked
    URI based resources
    Multiple formats (not just xml)
    “SOAP You Can Trust”
    It has been around and has been used
    Standards oriented
    It works
    Top down approach
    Contract oriented
    (Noyle and Painter, 2009)
  • REST
    • Not new=Distributed GIS
    • What GIS has been waiting for all along
    • None of the above
  • Data Storage
    Geoprocessing Services
    Search and Sharing Services
    Map Services
  • (Jones, 2009)
  • Runtimes/Sandboxes
    ESRI Flex and SL APIS
    Desktop Like
    Higher Expectations
    Sovereign Usage
  • GeoRSS Feed
    From USGS
    JSON Map Service
    ArcGIS Server
    JSON Map Service
    ArcGIS Online
  • Top Down Vs. Bottom Up
    Standards vs. Grassroots
    GML vs. RSS
    REST vs. SOAP
    Spatial Data Infrastructures vs. RESTful discovery
    Adaptability vs. Stability
  • GIS Based Web or Web Based GIS
    GIS Dudes and Dudettes
    Convergence: Don’t see things the same way
    Web Dudes and Dudettes
    • WMS vs Generic Web Services
    • Geoweb Neighborhood Guy
  • Possible Solution
    B2C (Adaptable, Consumer, Oriented)
    B2B (SOAP, Complexity, GML)
    Geoweb = B2B + B2CWhere: (B2b = SOAP + GML) and (B2C = REST + KML)
    (Painter, 2009)
  • “An ecosystem is a natural unit consisting of all plants, animals and micro-organisms (biotic factors) in an area functioning together with all of the physical (abiotic) factors of the environment. Ecosystems can be permanent or temporary. An ecosystem is a unit of interdependent organisms which share the same habitat. Ecosystems usually form a number of food webs…”
    (Ecosystem, 2009)
  • Geoweb as an Ecosystem
    Unit: Geoweb
    Biotic Factors: People
    Users, Participants
    Perceptions (top-down vs bottom-up)
    Abiotic Factors:
    Architectures, standards, formats, specifications, development platforms
    Permanent of temporary
    Food webs
  • Future
    Semantic Web (Web 3.0)
    Sensor Networks
    Now: Environmental Modeling, Battlefield surveillance
    Future: Facilities management (where is that computer in a particular building)
    (Moreno, 2009)
  • References Cited
    Ecosystem. (2009, August 26). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:10, August 26, 2009, from
    ESRI. (2007). Geospatial Service Oriented Architectures. ESRI Whitepaper.
    ESRI. (2003). Implementing a Metadata Catalog Portal in a GIS Network
    Fee, James. (2009). Barriers to Data Sharing. WhereCamp5280. July 2009. RetrievedAugust, 2009, from
  • References Cited
    Jones, Michael, T. (2009). Michael T. Jones – Geoweb Conference-July 20, 2009. RetrievedAugust, 2009, from
    Moreno, Rafael. (2009). The Geospatial Semantic Web: What are its Implications for Geospatial Information Users. Unpublished.
    Noyle, Brian. Usability and the Geoweb. Weblog entry. GIS and .Net Development. August 2009.
    Noyle, Brian, Painter, Ian. (2009). GeoWeb Architecture Panel. RetrievedSeptember, 2009, from
    “Ian Painter" ( ). " I did a Top Down talk..." [Weblog comment.] N.d. Top Down vs. Bottom Up at GeoWeb 2009. Sean Gorman. Off the Map. July 2009.
  • References Cited
    Scharl, A. and Tochtermann, K. (2007). The Geospatial Web: How Geobrowsers, Social Software and Web 2.0 are Shaping the Network Society. London, England: Spring Science.
    Treves, Richard. (2009). AGU Scientists Tech Talks – Geoweb Usability [Video]? RetrievedAugust, 2009, from
    Turner, Andrew. Geoweb Standards: Five Part Series. Weblog entry. High Earth Orbit. August 2009.
    Understanding Hype Cycles. Hype Cycles. 26 August 2009. 26 August 2009