An article co-authored by Benjamin Pross, Christoph Stasch, and Albert Remke, of the 52°North Initiative for Geospatial Open Source Software GmbH; and Satish Sankaran and Marten Hogeweg of Esri describes a development that should interest anyone who uses geospatial data. The 52°North Initiative for Geospatial Open Source Software has developed an open-source extension to ArcGIS for Desktop that enables access to Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC), Web Processing Services (WPS). The result? This initiative makes it possible for these services to be used in the same manner as native ArcGIS geoprocessing tools. In other words, they appear in the list of tools just as a standard buffer or overlay tool would appear. Yes, it could be just that easy.
The article explains that “while ArcGIS allows geoprocessing tools to be published as a WPS, [ArcGIS] does not offer a WPS client interface. Consequently, it is not easy to access external non-ArcGIS geoprocessing tools such as simulation models, rich data interfaces, or processing capabilities from any other legacy software that supports the WPS interface.” This points to the reason why this initiative offers such promise: “The 52°North Extensible WPS Client for ArcMap was implemented as an open-source extension to ArcGIS that fully integrates into the ArcGIS for Desktop environment. It enables OGC WPS to be accessed and used in the same manner as native ArcGIS geoprocessing tools. This makes it easy to run WPS-based processes and integrate the results of that processing into ArcMap for use with other applications.”
In plain language, because the complex issues grappled with by GIS analysts often require major investments of time to generate models, services, and customized workflows and code, why should each analyst have to create all of this from scratch? An enormous time savings could be realized if there was an easy way to share these things. This article both explains recent progress in this area but also encourages the community to think creatively about how to pursue further collaborative methods.
A new document from the UN describes a 5- to 10-year vision in geospatial information management. Published by the UK Ordnance Survey at the request of the Secretariat for the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management, the lead authors are John Carpenter and Jevon Snell from the Ordnance Survey. The document was commissioned in October 2011 and the first edition was just recently published.
The document is worth examining for all those who are in the field of geospatial technology. The language of the document is thankfully clear and concise, and quite thoughtful, something often lacking in documents such as this. I especially like sentences such as these, “A number of important technology‑driven trends are likely to have a major impact in the coming years, creating previously-unimaginable amounts of location‑referenced information and questioning our very understanding of what constitutes geospatial information.“
The authors have done an excellent job in recognizing the diversity of government, nonprofit, and private sector needs regarding geospatial information. The authors also strike a nice tone by encouraging partnerships and progress so that everyday decisions can be enhanced with a greater volume and a better quality of data as we move forward. Yet, they are realists and realize that this won’t happen overnight. Throughout, the bulleted paragraphs make the entire document accessible and easy to read and understand.
Chapters include key trends (cloud computing, open source, open standards), legal and policy (privacy, liability, funding), skill important in the future (education, extracting value, working with data), the role of private and non-governmental sectors, and the future role of governments. Many of these topics are those that are core to the themes of the GIS Guide to Public Domain Data book, and thus the Public Domain Data book provides a good introduction to and background for the UN document for use on the job or in instruction.
Although many of the .geojson files currently hosted seem largely experimental, GitHub could develop into a useful spatial data resource and one to remember when searching online for open data.