Tuesday, 24 November 2009

"Who you gonna call?"

"Geo busters!" (apologies Ghost Busters).

Geodata access and availability is the real story behind the flurry of news around UK government freeing up some data, vs. Google collecting it and returning it for free, and many others. And this happens against a backdrop of various SDI (spatial data infrastrucutre) intiatives. I joined a UK government data developers mailing list, to educate myself on the ins-and-outs of data provision at the coal face, so to speak. And RDFa emerges as the way to resolve this - the more metadata one provides within any given dataset, the easier it is to classify and maintain internally, and to discover and distribute externally.

released under GNU FDL

This reminds me of Russian (matriochka) dolls: the more you peel back the more you find... the more you ask the more varied the answers! And in data access terms, popping dolls open is not a matter of brute strength, but craft in making data accessible. But how does one provide an answer to the question atop this blog? oilelefant(tm) has a number of suggestions:

1) provide operators and agencies a mean to rationalise their data:
a) forms to input data intuitively matching user woorkflows
b) import routines from internal and external repositories

2) encourage vendors and agencies to augment their data facilities:
a) exisiting websites that give users access to entitled data
b) improve the metadata infrastrucutre to enable such access

3) provide a web-mapping facility that can be used two ways:
a) a reporting back-end to post, report and QC on existing data
b) a mapping front-end to search, retrieve and overlay the same

This will help everyone - private corporations and government agencies - to engage in mutually beneficial and positive give-and-take according to these axiomatic points, originally called SAGE by Schlumberger's Olivier lePeuch over five years ago:
1) Syndication - make the data available over intranets or the Internet
2) AGgregation - provide facilities to mix&match, now called mash-ups
3) Entitlement - in addition, ensure access only to data we're entitled to