Tuesday, April 21, 2009

OGC Web Services Common and Community GeoWeb Platforms

In another move to democratize web-based services, a revision to the OGC Web Services (OWS) Common Standard is now available. The document seeks to standardize common aspects of OGC SDI - like bounding boxes, exceptions, URL requests, key value encodings, etc. - so any application, anywhere can access it. In its simplest form you can think of OWS Common as providing a consistent window over any part of the Earth into which many servers can stream maps, features, and imagery.

But why bother? Can't we just declare all base maps are provided by Google and Microsoft and that non-technical people organize their data on top using one or two GeoWeb "platforms" that let you upload information and layer it on Google or Microsoft? Sounds easy - turn all my satellite and road data over to the big vendor, check. Then turn my value-added data over to a GeoWeb platform vendor with his proprietary service interface, check.

Oops, gotcha - maybe it's not such a good idea to give all your data over to that proprietary GeoWeb platform? How can you ensure people will be able to access it fairly?

Maybe what we should be thinking about is how to advance GeoWeb platforms NOT as proprietary implementations using an alchemy of REST, JSON, RSS, KML - but as Community GeoWeb Platforms that combine international standard geospatial web services with Web 2.0 technologies.

But you say, "We don't have enough standards!" and "OGC is too complicated!" - Not true. Key SDI 2.0 access, processing, analysis and collaboration services standards for building Community GeoWeb Platforms on an Internet cloud are ready now - WMTS, WMS, WFS, WFS-T - and all these can be "mashed up" with Google and Microsoft using guidelines like OGC Web Services Common.

Democratic access indeed.

- Jeff


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