Geoscience data standards, software implementations, and the Internet. Where we came from and where we might be going.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
David L Blodgett, USGS Office of Water Information, Center for Integrated Data Analytics, Middleton, WI, United States
Geographic information science and the coupled database and software systems that have grown from it have been evolving since the early 1990s. The multi-file shapefile package, invented early in this evolution, is an example of a highly generalized file format that can be used as an archival, interchange, and format for program execution. There are other formats, such as GeoTIFF and NetCDF that have similar characteristics. These de-facto standard (in contrast to the formally defined and published standards) formats, while not initially designed for machine-readable web-services, are used in them extensively. Relying on these formats allows legacy software to be adapted to web-services, but may require complicate software development to handle dynamic introspection of these legacy file formats’ metadata. A generalized system of web-service types that offer archive, interchange, and run-time capabilities based on commonly implemented file formats and established web-service specifications has emerged from exemplar implementations. For example, an Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Web Feature Service is used to serve sites or model polygons and an OGC Sensor Observation Service provides time series data for the sites. The broad system of data formats, web-service types, and freely available software that implements the system will be described. The presentation will include a perspective on the future of this basic system and how it relates to scientific domain specific information models such as the Open Geospatial Consortium standards for geographic, hydrologic, and hydrogeologic data.