In a world where technology is everywhere, it is only logical to use it to the societys advantage. There have been great efforts to improve geospatial collaboration to help rescue units, military, etc. However with progress also come challenges. A research paper entitled “Geospatial Collaboration: Advances, Challenges and Future Developments” written by LPA Systems, Inc ( Christopher W. Wolfe, David P. Russell, Matthew Corridoni and Dr. Raymond Shady) helps explain the potential uses and obstacles with geospatial collaboration (Wolfe, Russell and Corridoni).
What is geospatial collaboration? According to LPA Systems, Inc, geospatial collaboration “is simply collaboration using geospatial information” (Wolfe, Russell and Corridoni). Geospatial Collaboration is a subset of Geographical Information System or more commonly known as GIS. GIS is a tool used to “capture, store, analyze, and display geographical information. (Folger)” GIS can be implemented in many different applications such as search and rescue to better plan and coordinate events in the future.
Figure 1 – Monica Pratt “GIS to the Rescue”Search and Rescue
Geospatial Collaboration has provided the world with a great search and rescue tool. Monica Pratt, editor of ArcUser wrote an article about how GIS gives us a “geographical advantage”. In her article entitled “GIS to the Rescue”, she explains how a tool called Rescue View helped save three teenagers in less than two hours. Three teenagers had volunteered to participate in a simulation sea discovery drill run by the South African Rescue Organization (Pratt). However, due to unexpected weather the drill became an emergency. Above is a snap shot of the application Rescue View which was written by Kobus Meyer who works for National Sea Rescue Insitute. Rescue View is slightly different from land based GIS system because it takes into account that the ocean/water is able to move and move its victims. With the help of multiple organizations and RescueView they were able to save the teenagers in approximately 90 minutes (Pratt).
As technology progress so wills GIS search and rescues, there are already more and more agencies focusing on implementing better software and techniques using GIS (Carroll, Mentis and Convertino). One of the main GIS software is called “Incident Commander Pro” which incorporates GIS maps and NIMS-incident Command System and has the ability to continue growing as information became available. More information about this software can be found at www.sartechnology.ca.
It seems most of the papers written about GIS all mention and/or elaborate about its valuable impact in the search and rescue field.
The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency
The NGA mainly works with the United States Department of Defense and U.S. Intelligence Community and also with over 30 different organizations around the world. Its goal is to “provide timely, relevant and accurate geospatial intelligence in support of national security objectives” (National Geospatial Intelligence Agency). The following is a list of products and services they provide: topographical and terrestrial mapping, Nautical Hydrography and Bathymetry, Imagery Sources, Aeronautical data, Geodesy and Geophysics, and Geographical Names. They also provide GEOINT Standards which provides rules and guidelines to standardize information (National Geospatial Intelligence Agency).
Wikimapia title says it all “Lets describe the whole world!” Its official goal is to ” create and maintain a free, complete, multilingual, up-to-date map of the whole world”. There are currently 101 languages available in WikiMapia. It combines information available from Google Maps and uses the wiki system to create a user inspired map of the world. Users and tag a location, add pictures, add roads, ferry lines, etc, and also create a watch list to monitor a certain area. There are three user levels: Level 0 which allows adding places and editing existing places: Level 1 which including level 0 capabilities as well as deleting places. Level 2 provides permissions to site security, anti-vandalism permission which allows them to delete tags and protect tags from being edited. Like Wikipedia everything is editable however the site is maintained and is adjusted according if discrepancies are found.
Google Earth provides the opportunity to have geospatial data at your finger tips. Not only can you see where your house is on a map but you can also download multiple KMLS from different organizations and company to track specific information. For example, the WorldFish Center ReefBase Project allow users to download their KML which provides 284,000 sq kilometers of reefs (reference). KML is a file format used by Google Earth, and Google Maps that gives visual geographical data. It is based on XML standard. KML is heavily documented by Google and can be found at by typing in “KML” in the Google code.
Google maps is a web mapping application that allows users to plan trips, estimate travel time, estimate distance, provide street views. It works by using satellite images and aerial photography of United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and other countries. Although Google maps is a great resource many areas either purposely blurred, or are not photographed with the same resolution. For example, due to security reason certain areas such as U.S. Naval Observatory in the United Stated are blurred to deter terrorist planning while areas such as desert which little to no population are not clearly shown. Using Google Maps API the United States was able to develop Katrina Information map which helped gain information about damage in the aftermath of Katrina. This allowed officials and organizations and well as citizens to see location of flooding and damage areas geographically (Wolfe, Russell and Corridoni).
Developers may acquire Google Maps API to embed in external website. Google also used Google Maps to create Google Ditu (Chinese version), Google Moon, Google Mars, Google Sky, Google Ride Finder(discontinued), Google Transit, Google Biking direction, Google My Maps, Google Street View, Monopoly City Streets( worldwide version of Monopoly), Google Latitude and Google Flu Shot Finder.
Other services similar to Google Maps : Argleton, Bing Maps, Bhuvan, Mashup, Placeeopedia, PlaceSpotting, Wikimapia.
Similar to wikimapia, GeoServer is run by its users. Users can share and edit information. The site is maintained by a community of organizations around the world. It is a open source software server (GeoServer).
GeoBoost is a Web Mapping Platform that combines desktop application and browser-based system to provide an open platform for internet web mapping (Eick, Eick and Fugitt). There is a research paper written about it entitled “GeoBoost: An AJAX Web 2.0 Collaborative Geospatial Visualization Framework” written by SSS Research, Inc ( Stephen G. Eick, M. Andrew Eick, Jesse Fugitt, Russell A Lankenau) which goes into great detail about its uses and framework.
Figure 2 – Peter Folger “Geospatial Information and Geographic Systems: Current Issues and Future Challenges
With development comes obstacles, Geocollaboration is no exception. The authors of the paper discuss seven obstacles: Feature Deconfliction, Confidence and Uncertainty, Trust and Veracity, Relevance, Hypotheses Tracking Feature Overload and Security and liability. Additional research provided by Peter Folger also presents the following issues: managements of information, data sharing, and coordination among federal agencies. He also suggest that different layers of the system but synchronized more efficiently, see Figure 2. (Folger)
In three papers, the main issue presented was that of being able to take an image and be able to accurately provide the same information (Cartwright, Crampton and Gartner). Specifically, image analysis is done by humans and of course there are no perfect humans and therefore mistakes are made. The solution is to provide a way for analysts to measure the validity of their data. (Wolfe, Russell and Corridoni)
In essences all the issues mentioned basically boil down to being able to valid and provide accurate information that can be manipulated and accessed by multiple users without losing its integrity (Logan).
The authors hope to bring a “higher degree of collaboration among analysts” by using their purposed plan.
For Further Information
The following is a list of agencies, organizations and upcoming events if one is interested in pursue of more information about GIS:
“Geospatial Infrastructure Solutions Conference 2010”
Web Intelligence Service
Federal Geographic Data Committee
National Geospatial Advisory Committee
National States Geographic Information Council
Please visit www.aag.org/giwis2/resources/assocation/association.cfm for more complete listing.
Elements of Research Paper
The title clearly declares that it will be talking about geospatial collaboration advantages and disadvantages. However it does not tell us the results of the paper or mention any conclusions brought forth from the paper.
The abstract is clearly defined and in the proper location. It does clearly state some of the questions that will be answered through the paper. It mentions that the geospatial community will be “enchanced’ by geospatial collaboration which could be taken as a hint to what their finding are.
The significance is the study is clearly stated:
“The authors will also explore the question of whether the technologies and process that lead to improved collaboration in everyday applications can help to improve collaboration in critical situations such as emergency crisis management.” (Wolfe, Russell and Corridoni)
The introduction is clearly written and provides examples to help illustrate what Geocollaboration is.
Compared to another similar paper “Prototyping Collaborative Geospatial Emergency Planning”, this paper was much easier to understand and follow. It was clearly divided up into appropriate sections. The author provided two diagrams/tables which helped break up the space and also supports his statements.
Although the research question is not clear, it would seem as thought the question is “how do use specialized features and services to increase the geospatial community while maintaining accurate data?”.
Summary of Results
The authors provide the following statement that gives a good overall summary of their paper:
“The envisioned geocollaboration system encourages consistency and efficiency through analyst collaboration within a common information pricture” (Wolfe, Russell and Corridoni)
Discussion & Conclusion
The conclusion was short but concise. It provides a solution to the problem and sums up the paper in a few sentences.
First reference is Wikipedia site, which is known to be one of the most unreliable sites to reference. However upon further inspection the wiki page does provide valid information that can also be found on National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency website. It seems as though the information directly correlates to the official website and vice versa. There was one website that did not work which was www.rottenneighbor.com, which could threaten some of the statement made about the website in the paper. However for the most part, the references given were valid and accessable.