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Photos from Where 2.0 2006


Towards Geospatial Architectures of Participation

Chris Holmes, VP, Strategic Development, The Open Planning Project (TOPP)

Date: Wednesday, May 30
Time: 11:30am - 11:45am
Location: Imperial Ballroom

The Geospatial Web has been growing at an ever accelerating pace, with more and more people putting up geotagged photos, posting KML files, and exposing open standards-based WMS and WFS services. While collaborative on the macro level -- creating a web of information -- most geospatial datasets are one-to-many forms of communication. Individuals and organizations use specialized tools to create geo content, and post it for others to consume. There are emerging collaboration efforts, with Open Street Map being the clear early community leader, but we are likely only at the beginning of figuring out what the most effective "architectures of participation" for geospatial data might look like.

This talk will examine the potential challenges in creating geospatial architectures of participation: the technical, the social, and the legal. It will also place geospatial data in the context of other collaborative efforts, such as the open source software movement and Wikipedia. Does the future hold "one map to rule them all?" A single collaborative effort with one community, license, and tool? Or does something more like the open source ecosystem make sense, with a huge diversity of projects focusing on a variety of niches, large and small, with different legal structures, technologies, and community constitution?

The Open Planning Project (TOPP) is extending the open source, standards-based GeoServer Project to help organizations and distributed groups of people to collaboratively create, manage, and maintain spatial data. It is built to allow experimentation with different legal, social, and technical regimes, as we don't pretend to know the answers of what the most effective geospatial architectures of participation may look like. The initial release focuses on wiki-style editing: rollbacks, history, logs, and diffs by extending the open WFS-Transactional standard. Also in place is a security framework to allow granular control over users and roles. Future work will include branching, sandboxes, georss/email notification of edits, and other features in a pluggable framework to allow easy experimentation with collaborative workflow.