When Is a GeoPortal Not a GeoPortal?

When it’s really a desktop application.

Over the past few weeks, I have been reading with conflicted agreement the posts of Brian Timoney and Bill Morris about the nature of geo-portals and what they should or should not be and do. I say that I am in conflicted agreement not because I take any issue with anything they have said. Their posts represent what should be considered best practices in terms of building web mapping applications. In Brian’s posts, the counter-examples he highlights represent some of the worst practices to be avoided.

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Comment Period Open for GeoPackage Specification Draft

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) has published a draft GeoPackage specification for comment. The GeoPackage specification attempts to create a non-proprietary means for packaging and exchanging all geospatial data in all its forms (vector, raster, and tiles). A couple of things that jump out at me:

  • It calls out SQLite as the reference implementation of a GeoPackage container
  • It calls out SpatiaLite 4 as the reference implementation of a vector feature store
  • It does not call out a reference implementation for rasters or tiles
  • It does not mention exchange of cartography.

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Center for Spatial Law and Policy Announces Geospatial Data Licensing Workshop

Kevin Pomfret announced this morning that the Center for Spatial Law and Policy will be hosting a workshop on geospatial data licensing.

Data licensing has always been an important issue but seems to be moving to the forefront as demand for quality spatial data grows. This workshop could prove to be timely. It is being held on 24 January 2013 in Tysons Corner, VA. Details can be found on the Spatial Law and Policy blog.

Wilson Center to Discuss FCC National Broadband Map

One of the most compelling recent success stories for open-source geospatial tools in the Federal Government has been the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) National Broadband Map initiative. It has been a very visible example of the stability, scalability, flexibility, and power of open-source geospatial tools.

The Woodrow Wilson Center will be hosting a case study of National Broadband Map on October 15th, 2012. The event’s page also includes a link to the full paper (PDF), authored by Zachary Bastian of the Wilson Center and Michael Byrne of the FCC.

The full paper, in my opinion, is recommended reading for anyone working with geospatial technologies in the government space. While the Broadband Map has rightfully garnered significant attention based upon its success, especially in terms of performance and scalability, the paper does a good job of reminding us that the map is not an end goal in itself, but a step toward the larger policy goal of expanding broadband access. The paper does an excellent job of illustrating how top-level policy goals were broken down into actionable parts that resulted in a concrete product such as the Broadband Map. In so doing, it walks us through the introduction and fostering of an open culture within the FCC that resulted not only in the Broadband Map but also in the development of open APIs and the availability of FCC tools as open-source projects themselves.

In its conclusions, the paper also makes compelling observations about the power of focused policy goals to drive the use of technology standing in stark contrast to generic overarching technical policies, such as the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) which are disconnected from specific policy goals and achieve little traction.

If you are interested not only in geospatial technologies, but also the link between policy and technology implementation, and the cultural change that can be brought about by open-source technologies, you should consider attending the event at the Wilson Center on the 15th. While not a universal blueprint, the National Broadband Map makes a compelling case study.