Friday, 29 May 2009

Webinar Demo of OGC's OWS-6 Interoperability Testbed Results

On Tuesday June 9, 2009, the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC®) will conduct a free webinar demonstrating results from the OGC Web Services Phase 6 (OWS-6) testbed activity.

The 2 hour webinar will be held twice, firstly in the Asia/Pacific timezone, then in the US/Europe/African timezone.

Outcomes of these testbeds provide an excellent insight into the direction of future standards work and the industry as a whole.

The webinar will demonstrate OWS-6 achievements involving Web services architecture and interoperability solutions that are documented in OGC Engineering Reports and covers:

  • Sensor Web Enablement (SWE)
  • Geo Processing Workflow (GPW)
  • Decision Support Services (DSS)
  • Aeronautical Information Management (AIM)
  • Compliance and Interoperability Test and Evaluation (CITE)

For the Asia/Pacific:

Start at: 8:30am in Mumbai, 11am in Perth, noon in Tokyo, 1pm in Sydney, 3pm in New Zealand. http://timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?month=6&day=9&year=2009&hour=13&min=0&sec=0&p1=240

Register at: http://portal.opengeospatial.org/public_ogc/register/090609_ows6_webinar.php

Full details at: http://www.opengeospatial.org/pressroom/pressreleases/1021

This Asia/Pacific timezone webinar is coordinated with the help of OWS-6 participants LISASoft, Landgate and the CRCSI.

For US/Europe/Africa

Start at: 11:00 a.m. EDT, 5 p.m. CST http://timeanddate.com/worldclock/meetingdetails.html?year=2009&month=6&day=10&hour=15&min=0&sec=0&p1=179&p2=195

Register at: http://portal.opengeospatial.org/public_ogc/register/090610_ows6_webinar.php

Full details at: http://www.opengeospatial.org/pressroom/pressreleases/1019

Monday, 25 May 2009

Academic track at FOSS4G 2009, two weeks till abstracts due, workshops announced

Sydney, Australia. 25 May 2009.

The Academic community and FOSS4G organising committee are pleased to add an academic track to the FOSS4G conference, and remind interested presenters that there are only two weeks left for FOSS4G abstract submissions! Abstract submission closes 8 June 2009. (Note the deadline has been extended a week.) http://2009.foss4g.org/presentations/.

The Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial conference (FOSS4G), is being held in Sydney, Australia October 20-23. http://2009.foss4g.org.

The academic track will act as an inventory of current research topics and promote cooperative research between OSGeo developers and the academia. The academic track is the right forum to highlight the most important research challenges and trends in the domain, and let them became the basis for an informal OSGeo research agenda. It will foster interdisciplinary discussions in all aspects of the geospatial and free and open source domains. It aims to promote networking between participants, initiate and favour discussions regarding cutting-edge technologies in the field, exchange research ideas and promote international collaboration.

All submissions to the academic track must be original unpublished work written in English that is currently not under review elsewhere. The submitted papers will be thoroughly reviewed by two to three members of the international scientific committee and refereed for their quality, originality and relevance. For further information, please read the full call for research papers. http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/FOSS4G_2009_Call4papers.

Submit your Abstracts now

Only two weeks to submit your abstracts and secure your presentation slot. Presentations are open to all and comprises a 30 minute slot which includes hand-over, introductions and 5 minutes for questions. Presentations will be selected which have a strong "Open Geospatial" theme to them. We are keen to hear about your experiences, both technical and non technical. While the technology is a key part of the conference, in 2009 we are very keen to have a good selection of case studies and business case type presentations.

Workshops and tutorials announced

Workshops and tutorials have been finalised and descriptions are now online at:
Stay Informed

Join the FOSS4G announcement email list: http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/foss4g2009-announce or our twitter feed: http://2009.foss4g.org/contacts/

Media Sponsors

* Position Magazine: http://www.positionmag.com.au/
* Asian Surveying and Mapping Newsletter: http://www.asmmag.com
* Geoconnexions Magazine: http://www.geoconnexion.com/
* Directions Magazine: http://directionsmag.com/
* GIS Development: http://gisdevelopment.net/
* Baliz Media: http://www.BALIZ-MEDIA.com/

For more details about this press contact us http://2009.foss4g.org/contacts/

or contact:

Cameron Shorter, Chair of the FOSS4G Organising Committee and Geospatial Systems Architect at LISAsoft

tel +61-2-8570-5050

c a m e r o n . s h o r t e r @ l i s a s o f t . c o m

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Strategic Geonetwork Investment

This article was originally published in September 2008 at: https://www.seegrid.csiro.au/twiki/bin/view/Infosrvices/StrategicGeoNetworkInvestment and is copied into my blog to ensure it doesn't get lost.

Overview

ANZLIC's investment in GeoNetwork has the potential to be a world class showcase for the successful adoption and sponsorship of open source solutions, provided stakeholders address current development issues. By engaging key sponsors, tightening project management, applying resources appropriately and further engaging the GeoNetwork community ANZLIC will improve its long term return on investment.

ANZLIC’s backing of free, Open Source Software reduces commercial barriers to sharing data both internally and externally, and achieves ANZLIC’s goal of increased data access to facilitate effective decision making.

Open Source offers many advantages, including free licensing and engagement of an international pool of developers, but it does require appropriate investment and management to capitalise on Open Source’s offerings effectively.

Australia and New Zealand have many agencies interested in contributing to a Robust Spatial Data Infrastructure, some with suitable funding to address long term core infrastructure issues, others focused on localised customisation and infrastructure deployments. We have suitable funding, know-how and developers to build a great success story.

Background

ANZLIC and its member organisations agreed that GeoNetwork addressed ANZLIC’s functional requirements assuming some minor issues were addressed. Eight months later, Bruce Bannerman vocalised community feeling:

"I'm concerned at how ANZLIC's adoption of the GeoNetwork open source application as our spatial metadata tool is being handled and also at a perceived lack of progress in getting a production version of this application out."

Bruce proceeded to engage key stakeholders in a constructive email discussion to funnel the extensive good will and capabilities of our community into making ANZLIC’s backing of GeoNetwork to be an exemplary success story.

The following pages were collated by Cameron Shorter, Geospatial Systems Architect at LISAsoft, and aim to summarise and collate ideas presented and build upon them to propose a path forward.

Open Source Sponsorship

Open Source Spatial Data Infrastructures

A key challenge faced by Spatial Data Infrastructures is that the organisations who gain value from the data are different to the organisations serving the data.

The value of a Spatial Data Infrastructure is measured is the quantity of usable data it contains – or most specifically, how much data from other organisations can I get my hands on.

A Spatial Data Infrastructure becomes valuable to me when everyone else puts their data online so that I can use it. It costs me money to put my data online and I don’t gain anything because I have my data already.

Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI) are deployed to allow organisations to properly store, document, index, distribute and analyse spatial data. Most data is collected to support decision making. These decisions range from the simple, “How do I get from A to B?” to the complex, “Which management strategy is most effective at preserving a particular environment?” To support these decisions, government departments work to a triple bottom line: Financial, Community and Environmental. While balancing these factors is critical to making decisions, the decisions are only as good as the data they are based on.

Improving the triple bottom line of national and international SDI programs is dependent on a number of factors:

  • Data Quantity and Integration
    A national dataset, aggregated from local and state datasets, is significantly more valuable than the constituent datasets.
  • Data Quality
    Inaccurate or imprecise data can lead to incorrect conclusions and ultimately poor decisions.
  • Data Currency
    Some data changes rapidly, such as traffic congestion or transit demand. Other datasets, such as geologic zones, will theoretically never change, though changes in surveying methods or resolution can add to the accuracy and extent of the dataset. Making decisions based on last year’s data serves only to solve last year’s problems a year too late.
  • Efficient Data Collection and Maintenance
    The costs and timelines of collecting data and maintaining existing datasets must be managed in order to achieve acceptable results in the previous three categories.
  • Data Availability and Licensing
    Simply storing the data is not enough. Data must be accessible when and where it is needed, formatted in such a manner that it can be used with the tools at hand, and it must be licensed in such a manner to permit the analysis and publication of results or derived products as required.

SDI programs often seek to address these factors by developing a centralized SDI to service a network of related departments and organisations, ranging from a number of departments within a ministry, to integration of datasets across the country. As Paul Ramsey explains (here and here):

“… a key funding challenge faced by SDI programs is that while sharing data in a distributed SDI reduces the overall cost for everyone, not everyone is equally better off”.

For data custodians, publishing data is a cost centre and doesn’t provide a substantial business benefit.

Many, including Ben Searle from the Australian Government Office of Spatial Data Management, realize that:

“… an effective way to increase access to other agencies’ data is to sponsor free, *Open Source tools which will reduce the cost barrier to sharing data.*”

Open Source offers many opportunities, which can significantly enhance the investment of organisations prepared to capitalize on them.

Opportunity Management is the inverse of Risk Management. With risk management you quantify what can go wrong then identify mitigation strategies to avoid or reduce the impact of the risks. With opportunity management you list potential windfalls and deploy strategies to enable and benefit from the windfalls. The table below shows an example opportunity management matrix.

Opportunity Enabler
Use data from external agencies. Agencies are given access to open source tools to reduce their barrier to sharing data.
Use Open Standards for tools to facilitate communication.
Use Open Standards for data schemas so data can be integrated.
External Agencies extend our toolset. Use and share our tools as Open Source Software so that others can use and extend them.
Support the Open Source development processes to reduce the barrier of entry to potential development sponsors.

Effective Open Source Sponsorship

After selecting Open Source sponsorship to achieve cost effective data access, agencies are now faced with a relatively new business model, open source sponsorship. Agencies need to align purchasing policies, based upon deliverables and milestones, with Open Source community development.

Under a proprietary business model, a company builds and markets a product. Multiple customer sales cover the cost of development, supporting infrastructure, marketing, support, future enhancements and hopefully include a profit. While Open Source business models incur the same costs as the proprietary models they generally distribute the costs to the end users differently, charging for the implementation of specific functional or usability improvements.

Initial investment in communities, infrastructure, and marketing for an Open Source project is often the most effective way to ensure a long term return on investment as these areas are commonly neglected in favour of feature enhancements. Proper promotion and infrastructure support, instead of a sole focus on missing features, will encourage project growth and ultimately lead to open source Nirvana: hundreds of developers building your application using someone else’s budget.

Keys to Success in Open Source

There are a number of key elements that a potential sponsor should consider when evaluating an open source project in order to ensure maximum return on investment. These include:

  • Solves a specific need effectively.
  • Has an active, diverse and inclusive community.
  • Enjoys support from multiple sponsors.
  • Established development processes including:
    • Issue tracking
    • Communication channels like email lists and IRC
    • Quality control
  • Clear and comprehensive documentation and marketing material.

The OpenLayers project is a good example of a commercial entity driving the creation of a thriving open source project. OpenLayers is an open source, browser based web-mapping client which provides a front end to various proprietary and open data sources like Google and Yahoo Maps, WMS and WFS. In three years OpenLayers has grown from nothing to be the dominant open web-mapping client, attracting the majority of the users and developers in this space.

OpenLayers was initially sponsored by MetaCarta who needed a browser based application to support their mapping services. Rather than focusing on features, MetaCarta focused much of their investment on infrastructure and community support. In particular their effort was spent answering developer and user questions on email and IRC, monitoring the quality of code contributions, and setting up automated testing. Many of MetaCartas engineers have developed a personal interest in OpenLayers which MetaCarta encourages by allowing the engineers to spend some work time on the project.

Today, OpenLayers has an incredibly active developer community requiring minimal support from MetaCarta and have provided functionality significantly greater than MetaCarta’s original scope. Key to the success of OpenLayers has been the long running, dedicated community support provided by Chris Schmidt from MetaCarta. GeoServer, another Open Source project, has recently introduced a similar community liaison role, dedicated to community support and marketing.

The role of Community Liaison has always been key to Open Source and often is filled by volunteer enthusiasts, however commercial deployments of Open Source creates a workload volunteers can’t maintain and hence industry hires these volunteers instead. Ensuring that the community is supported in this fashion promotes the uptake of the project, increases the user base, which in turn attracts more sponsors and more developers. This leads to the situation where many developers are employed by a variety of sponsors to create new features and improve the performance and stability of the project.

Sponsorship Checklist

There are a number of tasks and roles that need to be addressed in order to ensure a successful open source project. These are described below:

  • Community Support
    A person or team is required to answer user and developer questions, review submitted code from external developers to ensure quality control and ensure that all submissions meet the project requirements in terms of test coverage and documentation. This is one of the most effective investments in a project.
  • General Project Processes
    All projects should invest in tools and processes such as automated build systems, issue trackers, concurrent versioning systems as well as ensuring that releases are performed smoothly and regularly.
  • Documentation
    Good, current design and implementation documentation lowers the learning curve for developers supporting and extending software and greatly increases productivity. Good user documentation engenders confidence in project reviewers which in turn will lead to greater adoption.
  • Marketing
    While Open Source benefits significantly from community generated promotion, it is enhanced by prudent investment in web pages and presentations for targeted conferences.
  • Commercial Support
    One of the main reasons given for avoiding Open Source is not being able to call someone to fix problems. Offering commercial support for a project you use will go far in encouraging adoption by other organizations.
  • Integrate and bundle with related software
    Microsoft Office has been especially successful because it integrates a suite of related products and bundles them all together in one easy install. Open Source products improve their attractiveness in the same way.
  • Open Standards
    Due to the release-early/release-often approach of most open source projects, they are often leveraged to develop, test and extend open standards. This makes open source projects among the earliest adopters of emerging standards, encourages the uptake of open standards and makes the projects attractive to those interested in sharing data between agencies.
  • Project Management
    Just like proprietary software, a sponsor’s software development should be managed using standard software development processes . This includes estimation; planning resources, work activities, schedules, budgets, deliverables; monitoring schedule, quality, risk, issues, contractors, configuration management.
  • Measurement
    Measurement is a key tool used during proprietary Project Management, as good metrics enable good management decisions. Good measures highlight whether specific business goals are being met and enable management to alter their strategy early if issues arise.

Metrics are under-utilized in many open source projects as developers usually drive their own agendas, are self motivated, and spend less time on Project Management. However metrics based decision making can be equally effective for Open Source projects especially for sponsors who will need to answer to commercial milestones and targets.

Standard software development metrics should be complemented by measures to monitor the health of an Open Source community. The Community MapBuilder project tracks many of these metrics and can be viewed at the URL provided below. There are now a number of dedicated tools which automate many of the common software metrics. http://communitymapbuilder.org/display/MAP/Strategic+Direction#StrategicDirection-Metrics. Typical measures are discussed in the following sections.

Project Management Measures

Earned Value Management

Earned Value Management (EVM ) provides an effective way to track progress over time and make adjustments to scope, schedule or resources as required. When employed EVM measures the planned value of the project as estimated in the original schedule, the earned value calculated from the percentage completion of all tasks at a given time, and the actual cost of the project at a given time as derived from time logs.

Milestones

Milestones provide an easy means of determining whether deliverables are on time or not. By decomposing a project into a number of smaller milestones, stakeholders can monitor these deliverables to determine if the schedule is likely to be met and adjust their planning accordingly, before the expected completion of the project.

Software Development (Indicative)

Features Implemented

By using an issue tracking system, such as Trac or JIRA, to record, track and report on the progress of feature and improvements, management is able to determine the progress of the project at a finer resolution than would be provided through milestones alone. This process also assists in the planning and prioritisation of features and encourages a flexible and agile development methodology.

Repository Commits

The frequency of commits to the projects source code repository is a strong indicator of the activity experienced by the community. While a high level of activity could indicate anything from a pending code freeze prior to release, to the discovery of a large and pervasive security vulnerability, it does show that the community is responsive and the project is undergoing active development. Commits to documentation repositories, or changes to the project wiki, provide similar indications of community activity.

Quality Measures

Bug Reports

Contrary to intuition, a large number of bug reports usually indicates a healthy project. It is an indication that the community is actively identifying bugs and endeavouring to fix them. Many issue tracking applications allow the reporting of bugs reported and fixed over time, or relating to specific releases. Many bugs indicates a strong user community that is testing and reporting issues or feature requests to the project.

Test Coverage

Many projects have a minimum requirement for the percentage of source code covered by automated tests that must be met before a new feature may be added to the project. The test coverage of a project or a specific module of the project is a strong indicator of the quality and stability of the source code. Projects with minimum requirements are indicating to the community that code quality and stability are more important that a long list of features that may or may not be stable.

Code Reviews

Code reviews are audits of newly written or modified source code performed by a developer or developers other than those that are responsible for the code. The presence and availability of code reviews is indicative of a commitment of the project community to following good development processes. This is another indicator of the quality of the project.

Community Measures

Communication

The activity of the project email lists, IRC channels, forums and other public means of communication is the best indication of the health of the community. In order to promote the use of the project, this activity should be balanced between discussions on the direction of the project, questions from new users or developers and in particular answers from knowledgeable members of the community.

Downloads

The number of downloads of binary releases, developer kits or source code provides an indication of the size of the user community. A large user community provides a large pool of people that may be interested in sponsoring additional development on the project, thus sharing the costs of the project.

Web Metrics

Indicators such as web page hits and related blog entries provide a means of estimating the interest in the project. While downloads provide a good indicator of the current size of the community, these web metrics are more of an indicator of growing interest and awareness in the project, and provide a means of forecasting medium-term growth in the project.

Number of Sponsors

The number of sponsors is a strong indicator of the size of the sponsored community. While this may sound obvious, open source projects suffer in this regard, since many sponsors will not advertise themselves as such. Instead they simply offer code patches, or hire existing developers within the community without informing the community at large. Unlike proprietary software projects, there is no centralized authority to track the number of licenses or authorised vendors/developers associated with the project, so the advertised number of sponsors will generally be a subset of the actual sponsors.

Assessing GeoNetwork Investment

Assessing ANZLICs Investment

Using the criteria described above, the following sections discuss the effectiveness of ANZLIC’s investment in GeoNetwork. Most of this section draws upon an email thread where suggested improvements to ANZLIC’s investment in GeoNetwork were discussed.

The issues discussed include:

  • GeoNetwork provides most of the functionality required by the stakeholders, making it a good basis to start from.
  • Software developers have noted the design and software is fair, but a number of improvements to the design, documentation and testing regime would greatly improve the extensibility and maintainability of the code-base.
  • There is concern over the disjoint between sponsors and developers knowledge. The cost of feature development is understood by the developers for specific parts of the code but has not been communicated to the sponsors, limiting their ability to make effective decisions.
  • The standard infrastructure and liaison costs associate with the project are being incurred by the developers and are neither visible nor acknowledged by the sponsors.
  • To date there have been long delays in expected deliverables.
  • There is concern that multiple forks of the GeoNetwork code base are being maintained, which will ultimately increase the costs of managing the project and keeping the forks up to date.
  • The current release is still being labelled as a beta release, indicating that it is currently not ready for a production environment despite assurances that it is.
  • Development progress is currently not being monitored against any schedule.
  • The requirements and scope of ANZLIC’s investment are unclear, and no milestones have been established.

While this list is long and varied, these concerns can be largely addressed with three changes to the process:

  1. Employ software development project management techniques. Management of software development is a refined art with established processes which extend the usual management processes already established in government purchasing processes.
  2. Accurately assess the scope of the project and resource accordingly. The scope should include GeoNetwork infrastructure development and community support to ensure the long-term health and opportunity management of ANZLIC’s investment.
  3. Monitor the software development progress using techniques like Earned Value Management.

Resourcing

Australian and New Zealand already have a strong community of GeoNetwork developers both within government agencies and commercially that we can draw upon. These developers can be pooled together under a common project and project manager but still answerable to their respective organisations’ goals. The project will answer to the Aust/NZ steering committee.

There are two identified funding structures readily available for GeoNetwork, described in the following sections.

Long Term Strategic Investment

Programs like the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) managed by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have long term funding to build a robust spatial data infrastructure and have substantial funding to apply to infrastructure – automated build and test suites, core design changes, documentation, community building etc.

Project Specific Deliverables and Timeframes

Many of the other stakeholders have project specific requirements related to collecting and managing metadata within their organisation. These projects will typically focus on configuration and integration with existing systems.

Recommendations

Resources

A number of key roles have been identified that, once filled, would contribute significantly to the success of the project.

Software Project Manager

A role is created to manage ANZLIC’s software development in accordance with standard software development processes. These include accurately assessing and prioritising scope, monitoring progress (using standard techniques like EVM), reporting progress, liasing with stakeholders (including ANZLIC members, greater GeoNetwork community and standards bodies), and managing risks and opportunities.

Community Liaison Officer

Funding a community liaison officer to sit on email lists and IRC and answer developer and user questions is a very effective investment in engaging future developers and sponsors. This role is usually someone who has been involved in the project for a while and has a good understanding of the technology and people involved in the project.

Developers

One conclusion of community discussions was that ANZLIC’s investment in GeoNetwork is insufficiently resourced. Increasing the number of developers available to work on core infrastructure is essential in ensuring the project will remain stable and extendable as well as speeding the incorporation of missing functionality as needed. This has the added benefit of increasing the pool of developers available to perform or assist in large-scale deployments as the project nears completion.

Tasks

The following tasks need to be addressed:

  • Identify sponsors and their business drivers.
  • Provide list of desired features.
  • Review the state of the software, design, and infrastructure and recommend updates.
  • Provide cost/benefit analysis

GeoNetwork Stakeholders

This section provides details of currently identified stakeholders. Please update or add the details of your organisation below.

ANZLIC

Bluenet

Point of Contact: Kate Roberts

Bluenet aims to provide a virtual data centre to support long term curation and management of data for Australia 's marine science researchers.

Bluenet has taken a lead role in extending GeoNetwork by sponsoring Simon Pigot to build the MEST extension to GeoNetwork.

Metadata Entry and Search Tool (MEST])

Extends the latest GeoNetwork release (2.2)

  • Adds ANZLIC profile
  • Is labelled Beta, but is of a stable quality
  • Managed by Bluenet

Bureau of Rural Sciences (BRS)

The BRS have hired LISAsoft to improve the User Interface for entering data to be user centric – putting the most important fields for the user first.

Commonwealth Scientific & Research Organisation (CSIRO)

Point of Contact: Rob Woodcock

Business Drivers as described by Rob Woodcock

… For a number of years my team has been working with others towards the creation of an open standards based interoperable geoscience infrastructure for Australia. Collaboration with both Australian and International organisations resulted in the formation of the SEE Grid community, a number of testbeds (e.g. CGI interoperability experiments with GeoSciML, Minerals Council of Australia and Geological Surveys Geochemistry, ebXML registry and repository) and various information models and tools (e.g. ANZLIC ISO metadata profile, GeoSciML, OGC Observations and Measurements, GeoServer community schema support, Fullmoon and Hollow World GML application schema modelling tools). Most of these outcomes have completed their “testbed” phase and some are moving to ISO standardisation or broader uptake.

The reason I say this GeoNetwork discussion is timely is NCRIS has provided an opportunity to make the step change from testbeds and demonstrators to production grade services. To date many of the activities have been, as Cameron noted, “for the work being done, …under-resourced”. This is particularly true as a move from testbeds to production grade services requires considerable investment and appropriate staff to achieve quality assurance, branch management, help desk support, deployment, and so forth. It is a credit to the NCRIS process and the Auscope board and AeRIC, that this investment is actually being made (to the tune of nearly $10 million by mid 2011) and the strategic objective, in an open standards/source way, is to achieve production grade infrastructure for geospatial & geoscience information.

To this end, the NCRIS activities I am involved with (Auscope and SISS) are:

  • Seeking feedback and engagement with the broader community on where best to target the available resources to achieve the production grade services infrastructure – fill in the gaps to production services and complement/support the existing activities. Flexibility and cooperation is a key ingredient

  • Establishing a quality assurance framework around the Spatial Information Services stack including – packaging/installation, regression testing/unit-test suites

  • Performing development on core open source technologies in the stack so they are interoperable, in sync with the open source community developments

  • Establishing a maintenance and support environment including help desk, priority bug fixes in the Australian and New Zealand context, deployment assistance, training, sample deployments

  • Developing features necessary to support the Australian and New Zealand geospatial communities – in particular those areas represented in NCRIS noting that is a very large group of Government and non-government organisations already.

  • Seeking to facilitate/assist organisations and communities that might be able to sustain the stack beyond the lifetime of the NCRIS investments so that the organisations that deploy have a sustainable technology base – with my CSIRO hat on success is defined as my not having a job at the end of the activity!

On a more technical note, the SISS is currently based on the following open source technologies:

  • !GeoServer - with community schema extensions
  • !GeoNetwork
  • THREDDS, Hyrax
  • Web Portals and Desktop clients – various samples are being made available particularly for training and regression testing purposes (e.g. Googlemap portal, uDig, sample java desktop clients)
  • OGC standards
  • !GeoSciML standards for geoscience information

Due to our previous work we already have reasonably good links with the open source communities involved and broadly the Australian and New Zealand activities around GeoServer. Geospatial and Geoscience information standards and the Web Portal and Desktop clients. We are less well connected with the GeoNetwork community (something we are actively seeking to improve) though we have a strong involvement in registries, metadata standards and the ANZLIC profile.

Whilst I believe the strategic intent of these activities, our collaborations, and the investment level are capable of contributing to the broadly desired outcomes Bruce mentioned in his initial e-mail, the move to production services and actually having a large investment does create some additional challenges both in project management and the, more important, social interaction side of the community.

Flexibility and communication are clearly keys to achieving our shared objectives and I welcome any feedback or suggestions on how the activities and resources represented by the Auscope and SISS investments could serve the ongoing development of GeoNetwork , GeoServer and more broadly the spatial information services stack. We do have a plan to keep things moving but it is not set in stone and there is flexibility in the resourcing to “grease the wheels” so to speak to ensure the necessary gaps can be filled – you may just find we change the plan to resource the need.

Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRC-SI)

Point of Contact: Peter Woodgate

The CRC-SI wishes to support the development of a robust Australian Spatial Data Infrastructure. This should be preceded by a National Strategy paper developed under the guidance of ANZLIC.

Key dates

By end of 2008
National Strategy Policy
2009
Funding provided for a SDI

DSE – Victoria

European Space Agency

Point of Contact: Jeroen Ticheler, Geocat

Through a project with the European Space Agency the ebRIM model will be implemented in GeoNetwork. One of the prime goals of this is to improve the internal handling of metadata and make sure other interfaces and GN as a whole benefit of some of the ebRIM advantages. The project runs until the end of 2008 and should be stable by the end of January 2009.

Organisations often use quantitative measures to review employee effectiveness. But, beware the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of Human Measurement. “The act of measuring a human affects the quality of the metrics being collected”.

Key dates

January 2009
Stable code included in GeoNetwork

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)

Geoscience Australia

Australian Spatial Data Directory (ASDD)

GA are migrating the ASDD over to using GeoNetwork and have resources allocated to this.

New Zealand Defence Force

Point of Contact: Byron Cochrane.

Byron is using the trunk version of GeoNetwork and is developing automated Spatial Metadata Extraction Tool (SMET) to be used for harvesting and validating metadata. As yet, he is unclear how to incorporate SMET into the GeoNetwork trunk.

There are a number of others in the GeoNetwork community investigating this problem.

New Zealand Regional Councils

Point of Contact: Jim McLeod

New Zealand mini SDI pilot

A consortium of New Zealand regional councils aim to set up a pilot to set up a mini-Spatial Data Infrastructure pilot to facilitate sharing of data.

Key dates

August 2008
Councils meet to determine key requirements

Office of Spatial Data Management (OSDM)

Point of Contact: Ben Searle

OSDM have been taking a facilitating role for Australian GeoNetwork development, coordinating sponsors involvement. In particular, OSDM is sponsoring the migration of The Australian Spatial Data Directory (ASDD) to Geonetwork. ASDD provides search interfaces to discover geospatial dataset descriptions (metadata) throughout Australia.

http://www.osdm.gov.au/Metadata/GeoNetwork/default.aspx

Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)

Point of Contact: George Percivall

OWS6 Testbed

The annual Open Web Services (OWS) testbeds provide international, practical testing of current and upcoming OGC standards, and covered many of the strategic objectives of Australian/New Zealand geospatial programs.

By aligning with OGC testbeds we gain:

  • Our development is aligned with existing and future OGC standards, increasing the longevity of our solutions.
  • Alignment with similar international programs
  • In kind and/or financial contributions toward our projects.
  • Access to world developments in this area.

The 2008 OWS6 testbed themes are:

  • Sensor Web Enablement (SWE)
  • Aviation Information
  • Geoprocessing Workflow (GPW)
  • Geo Decision-support Services (GDS)
  • Compliance Testing (CITE)

Key dates

June 2008
Release RFQ
August 2008
RFQ responses
September 2008
Kick-off
March 2009
Completion

Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo)

Point of Contact: Cameron Shorter

OSGeo supports the development of the highest-quality open source geospatial software. The foundation's goal is to encourage the use and collaborative development of community-led projects.

The Australian/New Zealand Chapter of OSGeo will host the international conference for OSGeo, FOSS4G , in 2009 and the GeoNetwork success story will be an ideal showcase study.

Key dates

November 2009
International conference for Open Source Geospatial Software, FOSS4G, in Sydney.

GeoNetwork Open Source community

Point of Contact: Jeroen Ticheler, GeoCat

GeoNetwork has a strong Open Source community behind it, lead by the primary author, Jeroen Ticheler who has built a company, GeoCat, around supporting GeoNetwork.
GeoCat are strongly engaged with the European communities and are a good point for engaging and coordinating with projects like INSPIRE, as well as aligning with future roadmaps for GeoNetwork.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Collaborative mapping of Sydney down under

Sydney government departments are collating Sydney city's underground geospatial data from multiple agencies into a common database and extruding 2D features into 3D, thus providing significantly more valuable datasets for all parties. The project was initially initiated to support emergency management and counter terrorism, however it also offers significant day-to-day savings by reducing infrastructure maintenance costs, like digging up streets, reducing public inconvenience, and increasing responsiveness to faults.
The results of the first few years of colloboration under the Emergency Information Coordination Unit (EICU) were presented at a workshop, Friday, 15 May 2009. While the data is still in the pilot phase, it was impressive to see how many of the datasets from different agencies lined up, and interesting to see how easy it was to identify glitches in z-axis points when displayed in 3D for the first time.

EICU call for Data Standards
A few participants and presenters recommended that standards be defined for sharing data between agencies. This sparked my interest as there are a number of OGC initiatives that we Australians have a lot of experience with which are directly applicable to the EICU.

The Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure Interoperability Pilot
The Canadians, under their Geoconnections program, addressed the same EICU use case of sharing data between agencies by providing data from multiple provinces through a single portal interface as if it were coming from one database. The data was updated at source and made available in real time. This was acheieve during the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrsatructure Interoperability Pilot, run as an OGC testbed, by using cascading Web Feature Services. The pilot also provided a workflow for users to feed updates back to data custodians, and search and discovery provided through a catalog interface. LISAsoft in Australia developed a Geoserver based cascading Web Feature Service and the browser based client.
A video of the pilot can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIZLc_qHYZc .

Community Schemas
As explained in more detail in this article, Community Schemas describe specific attributes and data structures for a data community. The community schemas act as a wrapper over disparent datasets, facilitating sharing between agencies.
Australia, and CSIRO in particular, pioneered much of the work related to Community Schemas in the development of GeoSciML and WaterML. LISAsoft supported the project by developing community schema performance and validation tools.

CityGML
CityGML is a specific Community Schema which offers the key building blocks for a EICU schema. CityGML was the basis for much of the latest OGC testbed, OWS6, which LISAsoft provided validation tools for. The results of this testbed are planned to be presented in as a webinar early in June 2009. Let me know if you wish to be informed when the webinar is announced. An good overview of CityGML is provided in the OWS RFQ:

CityGML is an open data model and XML-based format for the storage and exchange of virtual 3D city models. It is an application schema for the Geography Markup Language version 3.1.1 (GML3), the extendible international standard for spatial data exchange issued by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and the ISO TC211.
The aim of the development of CityGML is to reach a common definition of the basic entities, attributes, and relations of a 3D city model. This is especially important with respect to the cost-effective sustainable maintenance of 3D city models, allowing the reuse of the same data in different application fields.

CityGML not only represents the graphical appearance of city models but specifically addresses the representation of the semantic and thematic properties, taxonomies and aggregations. CityGML includes a geometry model and a thematic model. The geometry model allows for the consistent and homogeneous definition of geometrical and topological properties of spatial objects within 3D city models. The base class of all objects is CityObject which is a subclass of the GML class Feature. All objects inherit the properties from CityObject.

The thematic model of CityGML employs the geometry model for different thematic fields like Digital Terrain Models, sites (i.e. buildings; future extensions of CityGML will also include explicit models for bridges and tunnels), vegetation (solitary objects and also areal and volumetric biotopes), water bodies, transportation facilities, and city furniture. Further objects, which are not explicitly modeled yet, can be represented using the concept of generic objects and attributes. In addition, extensions to the CityGML data model applying to specific application fields can be realized using the Application Domain Extensions (ADE). Spatial objects of equal shape which appear many times at different positions like e.g. trees, can also be modeled as prototypes and used multiple times in the city model. A grouping concept allows the combination of single 3D objects, e.g. buildings to a building complex. Objects which are not geometrically modeled by closed solids can be virtually sealed in order to compute their volume (e.g. pedestrian underpasses, tunnels, or airplane hangars). They can be closed using ClosureSurfaces. The concept of the TerrainIntersectionCurve is introduced to integrate 3D objects with the Digital Terrain Model at their correct positions in order to prevent e.g. buildings from floating over or sinking into the terrain.

CityGML differentiates five consecutive Levels of Detail (LOD), where objects become more detailed with increasing LOD regarding both their geometry and thematic differentiation. CityGML files can - but do not have to - contain multiple representations (and geometries) for each object in different LOD simultaneously. Generalization relations allow the explicit representation of aggregated objects over different scales.

In addition to spatial properties, CityGML features can be assigned appearances. Appearances are not limited to visual data but represent arbitrary observable properties of the feature’s surface such as infrared radiation, noise pollution, or earthquake-induced structural stress.

Furthermore, objects can have external references to corresponding objects in external datasets. Enumerative object attributes are restricted to external code lists and values defined in external, re-definable dictionaries.
Tapping into OGC test beds
Future EICU initiatives, focusing on cross agency collaboration, provides an excellent opportunity to engage OGC participation. OGC participation provides access to international expertise and ensures R&D work flows into future standards and products. Australia is in an excellent position to lead an OGC initiative. Though the EICU, we have the business drivers, multiple agency support and local expertise. It would make a nice change to work on a testbed where meeting times align with Australian timezones.

Monday, 11 May 2009

OSGeo: 10,000 strong



Over 10,000 unique email addresses are subscribe to Geospatial Open Source lists! (Thanks Markus Neteler for working this out). Check out the success of your local project at: http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=r_y6-xiF3ZvE-rDJ5y30GfA and add details of your project if it isn't there. These figures are very useful when making a business case for sponsoring OSGeo or FOSS4G, so I'm hoping some resourceful geek will work out a way to extra these figures every month so we can track the growth of OSGeo from this point on.
I've also been overwhelmed with the good will and marketing power of the OSGeo community when promoting our FOSS4G conference. FOSS4G logos are appearing on blogs and web sites, press releases are being translated, and like previous years, community leaders are forwarding press releases through to their local communities. It is not surprising that 46% of FOSS4G2007 delegates heard about FOSS4G from a collegue or email. With 10,000 evangelists, OSGeo provides powerful viral marketing.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Alan Boudreault new despot of UbuntuGIS




Alan Boudreault has accepted the role of despot of UbuntuGIS.

Alan has demonstrated strategic thinking on how to move UbuntuGIS forward, leading many of the recent initiatives to improve UbuntuGIS. I'm confident he will take UbuntuGIS to the next level.

The UbuntuGIS project is responsible for packaging Geospatial applications into the Ubuntu linux distribution.

Welcome Alan. I wish you all the best in the role,

Cameron Shorter, retiring UbuntuGIS despot.

Monday, 4 May 2009

FOSS4G conference registration opens

Sydney, Australia. 4 May 2009.

http://2009.foss4g.org


The international conference for free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G), held in Sydney, Australia 20-23 October, 2009, is now open for registration. http://2009.foss4g.org/registration/.

FOSS4G attracts the cream of international Geospatial Open Source and Open Standards system implementors and sponsors. With themes ranging from the integration of Open Source with Proprietary systems to the building of Spatial Data Infrastructures and application of Open Geospatial Standards, the conference offers a unique opportunity to tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience available among the Open Source developers, sponsors and geospatial professionals of all persuasions. The Open Geospatial Consotium (OGC) is underpinning the conference with a Standards Based integration showcase based on a climate change scenario, demonstrating integration between Open Source and proprietary applications.

Along with a comprehensive program of thought provoking presentations and interactive workshops you would expect from an international conference, FOSS4G retains many of the engaging characteristics of its Open Source heritage. With Bird of a Feather sessions, code sprints, install-fests and impromptu project meetings, there is an unparalleled opportunity to take part in active communities and provide input into the direction for a variety of projects. FOSS4G encompasses the best of Open Communities, such as collaboration, helpfulness, innovation and honesty.

Early bird registration is just $AU725 (~ $US525) for 3 days of conference and tutorials, and $AU375 (~ $US270) for a day of top notch workshops from the world's best international presenters.

Location
FOSS4G 2009 will be held in Sydney, Australia which is built around one of the largest, most beautiful harbours in the world with miles of golden beaches stretching north and south of the city on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. It has a warm climate in October with average temperatures ranging from 15 - 22°C. Sydney and its surrounding areas provide a diverse range of visual excitement and vibrancy. Visitors to Sydney are spoiled with choice including national parks, famous beaches, the World Heritage Blue Mountains area and the picturesque Sydney Harbour. Sydney’s also offers a diverse range of cultural activities including the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Australian Ballet and the Sydney Theatre Company all performing at the well know Sydney Opera House.

Call for Presentations
Are you planning to present at this years conference? If so, don't wait until you have your presentation finalised to tell us about it! Go to the submission website now (http://2009.foss4g.org/presentations/) and enter your name and contact details and at least a title. Then, closer to the close-off date, log back in and fill out the abstract details. This will be a big help for the organisers as it will give us some advanced notice as to how many and what type of presentations to expect.

FOSS4G 2009 Highlights
The Climate Challenge Integration Plugfest (CCIP): FOSS4G will launch the OGC's Climate Challenge Integration Plugfest (CCIP), which demonstrates standards based interoperability between Open Source and Proprietary geospatial applications. It consists of a server with multiple virtual machines, each installed with geospatial applications offering standards based web services. All web services will demonstrate a common dataset, and will be accessed by a range of geospatial client applications installed on client computers. http://external.opengis.org/twiki_public/bin/view/ClimateChallenge2009/WebHome

Presenters are encouraged (but not mandated) to make use of scenarios and on-site data from the Climate Challenge Integration Plugfest (CCIP). This is especially important as demand for access to data over the internet is expected to be high, and Australia has notoriously slow connections to the outside world.

FOSS4G Live DVD: LiveDVDs, based on the Xubuntu operating system and including Geospatial Open Source Software, will be given to all delegates. Users can boot a Live DVD on their computer and trial the software without installing or effecting the existing system. http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Live_GIS_Disc

Installfest: The Installfest will give delegates the opportunity to meet in a common area and install a wide variety of FOSS software on their laptops, EE PC or any other system they care to bring in. Community members will be around to assist with any troubles and provide help and insight into the software. The install fest will take place after workshops on the first day.

Workshops and Tutorials: Workshops and Tutorials allow presenters to lead attendees through applications, integration solutions, or other topics in an interactive environment. Half-day workshops (3 hours) will be held in computer rooms on the first day. Tutorials (90 minutes) will be held in standard presentation rooms, run concurrently with presentations during the third and fourth days.

Presentations: The meat of the conference are it's presentations. Drawing on a huge community of local, regional and international experts we will discuss some of the most current and poignant topics in the industry today.

Demo Theatre: During lunch and coffee breaks the demonstration theatre will be showcasing live software. These short demonstrations from sponsors, open source projects and the user community show what is possible with open source today.

Birds of a Feather: Rooms have been set aside for semi-organised meetings between like minded groups. Some prominant community initiatives started in prior FOSS4G Birds of a Feather sessions.

Code Sprint: The weekend after FOSS4G is reserved for the Hackers' Code Sprint. Hackers will be locked in a basement with lots of bandwidth, pizzas and coke. (Well, maybe something better than that, but we don't want to spoil the mystical hacker image by describing it any differently.)

Upcoming milestones
  • 1 Jun 2009, Abstract submission deadline
  • 13 Jul 2009, Presenters notified of acceptance for talks
  • 31 Jul 2009, '''Author/Early registration deadline'''
  • 14 Sep 2009, '''Completed program available on the wiki'''
  • 20 Oct 2009, FOSS4G Workshop
  • 21-23 Oct 2009, FOSS4G Presentations and Tutorials
  • 24-25 Oct 2009, FOSS4G Code Sprint
Media Sponsors
For more information or to keep informed from the FOSS4G Organising Committee, join our email list or twitter feed at: http://2009.foss4g.org/contacts/

or contact:

Cameron Shorter, Chair of the FOSS4G Organising Committee and Geospatial Systems Architect at LISAsoft

tel +61-8570-5050

c a m e r o n . s h o r t e r @ l i s a s o f t . c o m