[open-geodata] "Why geodata shouldn't be a ghetto" blogpost - feedback apprec

Lance McKee lmckee at opengeospatial.org
Tue Jun 15 13:23:25 UTC 2010

Muki Hakley wrote re the claim that ""80-90% of all organizational  
data is geographic": "So for about 20 years, the GIS community has  
been using a powerful assertion which is actually based on a brochure  
and not on a rigorous analysis of evidence. Maybe, as John Fagan  
suggested, it wasn’t a good idea to look too closely!"

I wish I had proof of something I've written numerous times, but an  
interested person could do a study of organizational databases, and I  
think the assertion would hold true. Just remember that every street  
address field in a data record makes the record geospatial. Almost  
every credit card transaction has location attached to it. Every phone  
call has two locations recorded, and the same is true of most  
commercial transactions involving atoms, and almost as many  
transactions involving bits. Every issue in a state or municipality is  
an issue in a geographic (we say "geospatial" because location needn't  
be represented graphically) location, and that matters. The fourth  
dimension - time - also matters very much in many situations, and time  
is often attached to geospatial records.

An interested person could also do a study of scientific data to  
discover the degree to which each is dependent on geospatial data. I'd  
love to see the results!

There are many ways of representing geospatial data, many different  
naming schemas for geospatial features and phenomena, many different  
spatial reference systems, many different kinds of geoprocessing that  
help extract information from such data. The OGC's open standards have  
helped liberate geospatial data from the stovepiped "GIS" and helped  
submerge some of the complexities.  It's all quite exciting, and it  
matters very much as we learn how to have a good relationship with our  
planet and its many beings, each of whom has a specific location at  
any specific time.

Lance McKee
Senior Staff Writer
Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)
lmckee at opengeospatial.org

The OGC: International Location Standards

On Jun 15, 2010, at 4:24 AM, Scott, Antony wrote:

> Jo
> Re your opening para - see Muki Haklay's blog post from earlier this  
> year: http://povesham.wordpress.com/2010/02/22/the-source-of-the-assertion-that-80-of-all-organisational-information-is-geographic/ 
> .
> regards
> Antony Scott
> Tel: +44/0 1934 838676
> Mob: +44/0 7866 455515
> ________________________________________
> From: open-geodata-bounces at lists.okfn.org [open-geodata-bounces at lists.okfn.org 
> ] On Behalf Of Jo Walsh [jo.walsh at ed.ac.uk]
> Sent: 14 June 2010 16:56
> To: Jonathan Gray; open-geodata at lists.okfn.org
> Cc: Stefano Costa
> Subject: [open-geodata] "Why geodata shouldn't be a ghetto" blogpost  
> -  feedback apprec
> dear all,
> I've been drafting the blog post on "why geodata should be not a  
> ghetto"
> and i would appreciate any feedback on it before i throw it over the
> fence - i would like to be more constructive about what can we
> (OSGeo/OKF/[Geocommons?]) *do* to engage with domain-specific geodata
> user communities without much supporting resource...
> [[
> I've heard this quote recycled so many times; without a true origin it
> has become a truism: "80% of all information [collected by government]
> is geographic". As Rich Gibson and more recently the UK Location
> Information Infrastructure Board put it - "everything happens  
> somewhere".
> Another quote from Alec Ross, an Obama campaigner now running  
> technology
> innovation strategy at the state department:. "Technology is not  
> just a
> slice of the pie - it is the pan." I would like to say the same thing
> about open geographic data.
> We have directives and initiatives, strategies and standards bodies  
> that
> focus solely on geographic information - but is this helping to  
> advance
> the cause of practitioners?
> Roger Longhorn articulated this very clearly in a recent post to the
> GSDI Legal Socialecon list - spatial may be special, but it is not
> *that* special. I found myself tactlessly asking this at the end of a
> European geodata quality standards meeting - "Wouldn't it be nice if
> this was all a bit less geographic?"
> To say, "I'm interested in geodata" is like saying "I'm interested in
> books". There are committed niche communities who deal with the
> infrastructure of books, models to be shared, people who design and
> maintain library information systems. But their work is done for the
> benefit of people who focus on particular domains (I won't say
> disciplines, if that's unhelpful) - historians and scientists needs  
> from
> library information systems are at least as different as they are  
> similar.
> What prompts me to write this post, which I've been chewing over for a
> while, is another burst of interest in standing up a geographic data
> catalogue for the Open Source Geospatial Foundation. I think there are
> deeper reasons why this hasn't happened in the last few attempts to
> raise momentum behind the idea.
> One thing we haven't done well is articulate "user journeys" -  But to
> do this we have to be domain specific. How will an archaeologist
> interact with an INSPIRE catalogue - the answer is they probably won't
> at all; their time is better spent on services really targeted to  
> their
> needs, like the Archaeology Data Service.
> How will an evidence-based policy analyst looking at the success rates
> of health interventions use an INSPIRE catalogue? The spatial-ness of
> what they're looking for is an accident, a navigational aid. There's  
> no
> need for a geodata catalogue here.
> Reference to Gnat on catalogues and usability
> With geodata specific standards we are doing ourselves a disservice.
> Thus interest in OpenSearch Geo, or LocalSOLR - appending spatial  
> smarts
> to existing things.
> So as developers or analysts we should probably be asking ourselves -
> why are we building what we're building? Do we have a clear sense of
> what we want to understand? If not, that's fine too, ...  
> serendipitously
> explore, connect, and later re-relate.
> you get the general idea - i won't add much to this...
> [0]http://radar.oreilly.com/2010/06/technology-for-internet- 
> freedo.html
> [1] http://lists.gsdi.org/pipermail/legal-socioecon/2010-May/000771.html
> --
> Jo Walsh
> Unlock places - http://unlock.edina.ac.uk/
> phone: +44 (0)131 650 2973
> skype: metazool
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