Standards bodies join to create better geolocation Web data

The W3C and OGC pledge to ease the path for developing location-enriched Web data

Early adopters of Mozilla's new geolocation data service, as of Oct. 28, 2013.

Early adopters of Mozilla's new geolocation data service, as of Oct. 28, 2013.

From ordering pizza online to pinpointing the exact location of a breaking news story, an overwhelming portion of data on the Web has geographic elements. Yet for Web developers, wrangling the most value from geospatial information remains an arduous task.

Now the standards body for the Web has partnered with the standards body for geographic information systems (GIS) to help make better use of the Web for sharing geospatial data.

Both the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) have launched working groups devoted to the task. They are pledging to closely coordinate their activities and publish joint recommendations.

Adding geographic elements to data online in a meaningful way "can be done now, but it is difficult to link the two worlds together and to use the infrastructure of the Web effectively alongside the infrastructure of geospatial systems," said Phil Archer, who is acting as data activity lead for the W3C working group.

A lack of standards is not the problem. "The problem is that there are too many," he said. With this in mind, the two standards groups are developing a set of recommendations for how to best use existing standards together.

As much as 80 percent of data has some geospatial element to it, IT research firm Gartner has estimated. In the U.S. alone, geospatial services generate approximately $75 billion a year in annual revenue, according to the Boston Consulting Group.

Making use of geospatial data still can be a complex task for the programmer, however. An untold amount of developer time is frittered away trying to understand multiple formats and sussing out the best ways to bridge them together.

For GIS (geographic information system) software, the fundamental units of geospatial surface measurement are the point, line and polygon. Yet, people who want to use geographically enhanced data tend to think about locations in a fuzzier manner.

For instance, say someone wants to find a restaurant in the "Little Italy" section of a city, Archer explained. Because such neighborhoods are informally defined, they don't have a specific grid of coordinates that could help in generating a definitive set of restaurants in that area.

"That sort of information is hard to get if you don't have geospatial information and it is also hard to get if you only have geospatial information," Archer said.

Much of the work the groups will do will be centered around bridging geolocational and non-geolocational data in better ways -- work that the two groups agreed needed to be completed at a joint meeting last March in London.

The groups will build on previous research done in the realm of linked open data, an approach of formatting disparate sources of data so they can be easily interlinked.

The groups will also look at ways to better harness emerging standards, notably the W3C's Semantic Sensor Network ontology and OGC's GeoSPARQL.

The working groups plan to define their requirements within the next few months, and will issue best practices documents as early as by the end of the year.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags application developmentLanguages and standardssoftwareWorld Wide Web Consortium

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?