Improvements for geospatial resource discovery
Almost a year ago I wrote a post, Data, data everywhere nor any point to map, on some of the problems I’d encountered when trying to find spatial data for some projects I was working at the time. Among the main problems I kept running into were a lack of good portal interface design, a lack of reliable metadata and an unstructured approach to searching. In the intervening months I haven’t seen many initiatives specifically addressing some of those problems but I did notice the following Microsoft Research project, A visualization-enhanced graphical user interface for geospatial resource discovery, published in the Annals of GIS. The project authors (Zhipeng Gui, Chaowei Yang, Jizhe Xia, Jing Li, Abdelmounaam Rezgui, Min Sun, Yan Xu, and Daniel Fay), are proposing a ‘ visualization- and interaction-enhanced discovery workflow‘ to address the following shortcomings in geospatial data discovery:
*) Search portals lack intuitive and visual methods to present search results
*) Inadequate functions to sort, filter, explore and analyse results
*) Missing value-added information
The prototype search portal, GeoSearch, based on a Bing Maps Viewer and incorporating various filtering and visualization tools, is reported to improve the general user experience and can help users obtain required geospatial resources effectively and efficiently. I would be very interested in taking it for a test drive.
… and while we are on the subject of improved access to spatial data, Bjørn Sandvik recently reported the Norwegian Mapping Authority‘s announcement last week to make their 1:50,000 topographic, address, road and cadastre datasets publicly available, and free of charge, later on this year.