GeoWorld January 2013

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Beyond Open Data: We Need Platforms for Smart Communities BUILDINGTHEGEOWEB T he intensive use of information technology to address environmental issues and provide more-efficient and effective infrastructure, in the interest of generally improving quality of life, now is a broadly accepted goal. But the potential range of such smart-community applications is very broad. In an age of increasingly vertical applications, this also implies many small "apps" to deliver smart-community services. Finally, such smart communities will increasingly involve the delivery of services by the community to itself, leveraging the skills and contributions of a broad range of community members and not just those in BY RON LAKE formal government institutions. To make this possible will require the deployment of platforms that speed the development of new applications from the cloud to the mobile device and take us beyond simply open and available data. Web-service interfaces (enabling higher-level tiers to be more easily distributed), business logic and client (user) interaction. It also needs well-defined, open interfaces among the tiers. Web Services The Web-services tier exposes the platform information models and provides standard interfaces to enable component distribution and facilitate integration with back-end office systems. The latter can include a complete integration stack supporting upward and outward scalability of smart-community solutions. Note that although geographic/geometric properties are common to many types of objects, this is no reason to see the platform as essentially a GIS. Nor should it be seen as a document-management system, digital asset-management system or customer-relationship-management system. It clearly has aspects of all these systems, but it's the ability to easily and seamlessly integrate all these types of information that's crucial to its effectiveness. Governance of information is a key requirement in most community settings, especially where collaboration is involved. This means that each information item should be provided with a lifecycle status, be audited, and support automated notification of users or machines. Again, the Web-services tier should support these governance mechanisms and do so in compliance with open standards. More Tiers Start with Standards A key starting point has to be the use of open standards. How else can we expect open and competitive innovation? We need the following: Ron Lake is president, Galdos Systems Inc.; e-mail: rlake@, blog: www. archives/category/ media-center/blog. 30 Such data and metadata must include geographic information, because a large number of smartcommunity problems are inherently location-centric. Of course, this means geographic information in its broadest sense, including conventional planimetry as well as models/designs for all manner of structures and all forms of sensor information. Open standards for data models can be lowerlevel standards such as the relational model or more abstract ones such as Geography Markup Language (a data model based on XML Schema) or still higherlevel ones such as OAISIS ebRIM or OGC CSW-ebRIM (ebRIM with spatial extensions). For reasons of scalability and modularity, such an open-standards platform also needs to be layered, with appropriate tiers for entity persistence, G E O W O R L D / J A N U A R Y 2 O 1 3 The business-logic tier can provide a range of components to perform technical tasks such as routing, simulation, fast-map styling, vector/raster tiling, cache management, etc., which can be re-used in multiple applications and whose provision greatly lowers the bar for the average application developer. This tier also can be used to provide simpler interfaces for specific types of component interactions. Because the Web-services tier is completely based on open standards, such components can be rapidly deployed to meet the needs of particular development or user communities. The client tier can similarly provide a set of components that deal with the more-difficult issues of server communications, cache control, and dynamic rendering for geographies and structure models (especially 3-D and on low-power mobile devices). Of course, such components need to support Web applications as well as native applications on popular devices such as iOS and Android. Such platforms, enabling the rapid deployment of location-enabled applications from the cloud to the mobile device, will be increasingly common and form the basis for a wide range of smartcommunity solutions. Imagery/LIDAR Special Issue

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