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Interoperability in-action – perspectives from UK academia James Reid GeoServices, EDINA 10 February 2005.

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Presentation on theme: "Interoperability in-action – perspectives from UK academia James Reid GeoServices, EDINA 10 February 2005."— Presentation transcript:

1 Interoperability in-action – perspectives from UK academia James Reid GeoServices, EDINA 10 February 2005

2 Overview Who we are What we do Why Interoperability? Interoperability in practice Concluding remarks/demo

3 EDINA - Who we are A National Data Centre for Tertiary Education since 1995 –based in the Data Library Our mission... to enhance the productivity of research, learning and teaching in UK higher and further education Focus is service e.g. Digimap, EMOL, etc but also undertake r&D projects Services e.g. JORUM, SUNCAT, Shibboleth, Go-Geo ! Until recently, main focus has been provision of services fund by the Joint Information Systems Committee (or JISC)

4 Research and geo-spatial data team Largest team within EDINA –mixture of GIS specialists and software engineers Highly experienced and skilled team –provides advice nationally and internationally –active in standards development –active in GI community nationally and internationally First online GI service, UKBORDERS, launched in 1994 Demands of the services offered means team has been at leading edge of GI service development in UK Strategic move toward interoperability Services Projects Today Services Projects 1999

5 What we do - Some statistics Digimap –Until 2002, largest online geospatial database in the UK (300+m objects) *in 1999, it took 70 days to load and convert the data –17,000 users (30,000 over 4½ years) –Average 23,000 files downloaded per month, 200,000 maps generated, 10,000 maps printed off –In 2003, users downloaded over £6.5m worth of data UKBORDERS –300+ boundary data sets –70+ look up tables –1200+ downloads per month –Value to community of key downloads > £1M

6 Corollary of what we do - Service requirements Fast servicing of requests Scaleable –accommodates steady or increasing demand Robust (our SLD aspires to 98% uptime!) Maintainable (see next point) Standardized –Can easily substitute components for repair, upgrade, etc Rapid prototyping and rollout All above on tight budget (An aside: whats the Business case for Interoperability – Performance? Cost-reduction? Maintainability? RAD? recent OGC sponsored research suggests that saving money is not actually perceived as that important!!)

7 OGC and interoperability Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), a private sector initiative, formed in 1994 aim is to develop software specifications to advance geo-processing interoperability across the GIS industry employing practical test-beds and a consensus specification development process to arrive at open specifications for standard interfaces and protocols defined web service implementation specifications for –Map Services(WMS)– Gazetteer Services –Feature Services (WFS)– Geoparser Services –Coverage services (WCS)– Catalog Services

8 The vision - a SDI for the UK academic community © 2004 OpenGIS Consortium, Inc. Data Web Services

9 WFS Service WAAS Service WWW-Browser WAAS Client WFS ClientWMS Client Go-Geo! Portal WMS Service Geo- Data WMS Service Geo- Data Athens Data set 2 Data set 1 Services Clients Security Zone EDINA Research Council Institute JISC Data Centre User Based on R. Wagner 2002 WAAS Service Data Access - a one-stop shop geoX walk WGS Service Catalogue Service

10 Perceived benefits of Interoperability Increases the value of existing and future investments in Information Systems. Allows portability of data. Expands choices for vendor alternatives – no vendor lock-in. Enables vertical industry segments to unify trading practices. Decreases the long-term cost of ownership for applicable software investments. Enables leverage of existing skill-sets, i.e., does not require proprietary training. Provides a benchmark for software design.

11 Specific Project aims to prove the feasibility of delivering geo-spatial data using OGC standards; to demonstrate ease of use and value added; to build support and enthusiasm for further development; to stimulate and advance further thinking; and to identify major hurdles in full development.

12 Project Outputs A range of OGC based web services (WMS;WFS;WCS) A basic annotation web service (XIMA) currently investigating IBM WBI development kit for Java to develop a Geoserver (WFS) plugin proxy server to translate requests A series of demonstrator clients to illustrate: –Access to data (see later) –A teaching focussed use case (Metosat data in teaching weather forecasting) –A research focussed use case (based on dynamic image registration using web services) A report on the utility and issues surrounding implementation of open standards for geospatial data within the JISC IIE, including an assessment of security and access authorisation issues

13 Data access demonstrator – Issues (1) Issues: –Identify what OGC web services available (estimated that worldwide there are only c.250 public W*S services and most of these serving only sample or test datasets) see *We identified c.20 WMS, 4 WFS, 2 WCS –Ensure all conform to standards (scale hints missing, layer names cryptic; SRS missing; versioning dialogue issues) –Need for local registry (meta-information) –How to rationalise users view with disparate views afforded by different services (may not be a 1:1 correspondence of portrayal and data) – ontology? –Layer control and legend issues

14 e.g. Legend issues GLOBE – Urban extents GLOBE – Soil temperature GLOBE – Snow height GLOBE – Road classification ICDES/GlobalMap – GetLegendGraphic returns a 35*5 pixels – whiteimage!! BUT Example : RIVERS Rivers Context layer: Rivers default Default image/gif s/colorbars/RIVERS.gif As well as representing legends in different ways in the capabilities file, the images themselves can vary in size and style. Problems can also arise from similarities between legends, where the same colour is used to mean two or more things depending on the layer viewed.

15 Data access demonstrator – Issues (2) Issues : –Latency and asynchronicity (especially if doing lots of round-tripping) –Specification clarity e.g. exact definitions of some operations in Filter Spec, output schema for WMS GetFeatureInfo; XIMA leaves a lot unspecified ? –Specification harmonisation – see next slide. Addressed under OWS Common? (04-016r5 e.g. WFS 1.1, Catalog 2.0) –Metadata and sane names –Variable quality e.g. granularity and precision of data (you pay for what you get?)

16 Differences between WFS and WMS capabilities (Nuke Goldstein Oct 2004)

17 Preliminary conclusions More work required than possibly initially anticipated (though overheads with modern tools is less significant than was required previously e.g. MMS) Building the services as well as the clients!! Differences in underlying technologies may impact upon the degree of support for standards (open source vs commercial) Leading edge or bleeding edge? Security and DRM issues barely addressed – how do OGC web services map into mainstream Web Serices – what about WS-Security…longer term where does e-Research and GGF approaches to security fit in? Interoperability by definition assumes a minimum of 2 endpoints – providing the services themselves is only half the story! Still early days…

18 Demo… Data browse & grab client

19 Interop servers ICEDS ( - A demonstration service provided by University College London and ESYS plc, funded by the British National Space Centre, serving SRTM and Landsat data at full resolution for Africa, the Indian sub-continent and Europe. DEMIS ( – Company providing range of OGC products and services GLOBE ( - A worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based education and science program. Provides access to datasets for download and a WMS server. EDINA ( National Data Centre serving UK higher and further education, delivering inter alia geospatial data and service, including OGC based ones IONIC ( - Company providing range of OGC products and services.

20 Demo Fallback





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