Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gaia app simplifies geonames access

Access to consistent, reliable and local geographic names information is essential for understanding communities and geosocial dynamics. In many situations, geographic names provide one of the most important keys for referencing and accessing a variety of other information. Geonames databases, called Gazetteers, are an information resource for representing places, groups of people and cultures - and one of the best ways to share this resource with others is through online web services like the Web Feature Service - Gazetteer (WFS-G).

But if you think about the way technology is evolving there needs to be a kind of separation of usability from the standard web services like WFS-G. Think about iPhone apps - they're very focused software tools. You want to access news, you just open an app that goes to FoxNews (or whatever). Very focused tools reduce user operations to get what the user wants - and hide the underlying web services.

The prototype WFS-G Extender for Gaia is similar - very focused on a simple task - getting answers to questions from a WFS-G. All you need to do is click one button to access the WFS-G and get the information you need. You don't need to worry about complicated GIS layers - just click, click done.

For example, lets say you want to find "Universities" in a gazetteer. In response to your search multiple Gazetteer Features are returned from the Prototype WFS-G - and displayed in a user-friendly format as lists and notes - done. You can also exercise complex "Parent-Child" relationships in the WFS-G GMLsf schema to check if the geoname is part of a larger geosocial construct - like seeing that Los Angeles County is the "Parent" to the university above. You can also see that a more extensive set of geonames features were displayed as a WFS Layer in Gaia for reference, but most people will not want to see this geospatial information - they just want the answer to the question.

In future articles we'll look at how to update Geonames using the same simple approach. The Gaia WFS-G Extender is based on the Gaia Extenders API and CarbonTools PRO, and the Prototype WFS-G is provided by CubeWerx.

- Jeff


At 9/22/2010 11:10:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

The one thing OGC (consortium and community) failed to do over the years is wrap the complex standards in a friendly, focused, and usable UI/UX. The Gaia WFS-G extender attempts to show that it is in fact possible to leverage complex OGC for focused tasks in a way that non-professionals can use.


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