The most important attribute of geospatial platforms is their unique potential to aggregate a multitude of public and private geographic data sets, providing access to data from government agencies, industry and the general public. NASA and other organizations have a wealth of planetary science data – representing the output from thousands of satellites in earth-orbit, and from dozens of costly missions to other planets. Benefits derived from both the data and visual interfaces to access the data represent a significant return on investment for the public. Integrating geospatial data with semantic and collaborative Web technology multiplies the public benefits and represents the main focus of this book.
The user interfaces of geobrowsers are designed for the layperson, giving convenient access to all kinds of geographically referenced information. Geobrowsers hide the technical details related to finding, accessing and retrieving such information. The daunting challenge of the Geospatial Web is to seamlessly integrate and display vastly different information modes. Nowadays, it is not enough to simply display a map of some region; additional dynamic information modes need to be displayed and put into context – from weather sensor readings and live aerial video feeds to daily news updates, photo collections and video archives.
The open-source community plays a crucial role in driving the development of the Geospatial Web. Collaborative efforts have provided a large number of add-ons for popular platforms. In the case of NASA World Wind, several of these external modules have been integrated into the core system. Participants in open-source projects identify, track and resolve technical problems, suggest new features and source code modifications, and often provide high-resolution data sets and other types of user-generated content.
This book presents the state-of-the-art in geospatial Web technology. It gradually exposes the reader to the technical foundations of the Geospatial Web, and to new interface technologies and their implications for human-computer interaction. Several chapters deal with the semantic enrichment of electronic resources, a process that yields extensive archives of Web documents, multimedia data, individual user profiles and social network data. The following chapters then demonstrate the use of geospatial technologies for managing virtual communities, and for monitoring, analyzing and mapping environmental indicators. Finally, the last four chapters address service-oriented architectures, and describe how distributed Web services facilitate the integration of knowledge repositories with geospatial platforms and third-party applications.
I congratulate the authors for their excellent and timely work. The book is not only a comprehensive, interdisciplinary collection of current research; it also introduces visionary concepts and outlines promising avenues for future research.
Patrick J. Hogan
Program Manager, NASA World Wind