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GeoREST Provides Open, Searchable Access to Government Geodata

Location: Ballroom III Level: Novice

Government 2.0 is about transforming government by making it more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. Governments worldwide are beginning to understand the value of open data. It promotes citizen engagement, provides an enhanced level of transparency into government operations and holdings, increases the efficiency of citizen-government communications, and contributes to the economy through re-use of government data for commercial purposes. In 2009, we saw many examples of new government open data sites in the US Federal Government, state governments, and local governments like the City of Vancouver, where council adopted an open data bylaw. This is tremendous progress, but there remains a barrier between the public and public data, and that is that it is difficult to search and find raw geospatial data. In his “Government Data Design Issues”, Tim Berners-Lee proposes that the first priority is to get data onto the web in raw form. While Berners-Lee focusses on RDF, we believe that that simplest way to achieve this is to publish database records as HTML web pages, because HTML web pages are searchable using standard web search engines such as Google. HTML web pages means users can search for and find raw geospatial data in the same familiar way they find anything else on the web.

In this presentation, we describe an open source project (www.geoREST.org) that is based on the concept of web-searchable open government geodata and show why it is both compelling and important. We discuss how governments can easily publish their geodata at the record-level as HTML, JSON, KML, and other formats (including RDF) using the GeoREST open source application. We will show how this has been implemented at the City of Nanaimo, and provide web analytics showing how this strategy of publishing feature-level representations of government data has enabled direct access by the public to information citizens are interested in. Finally, we will discuss additional technical features the GeoREST open source framework, and especially how it can be used to enable web-based citizen participation through geospatial feature editing.

Photo of Haris Kurtagic

Haris Kurtagic


Haris’ background is computer science. He received an M.Sc degree in information science from the University of Sarajevo in Bosnia. Very early on he became interested in the spatial dimension of application development and in 1996 he started his own company, SL-King focussing on developing spatial applications using Autodesk and ESRI platforms. Always an early adopter, very soon after the initial releases of Oracle Spatial, Haris became interested in the possibilities of spatially-enabled relational database management systems and began developing spatial applications using Oracle Spatial and AutoCAD. His most successful and best known application is the utility infrastructure management application that he designed and developed for the City of Sarajevo Construction Permitting Office where he designed a replacement for the paper-based system that had been in place for over 40 years using Autodesk Map, Oracle Spatial, and Oracle Workspace Manager. Haris has explored other dimensions of Oracle Spatial, and had developed applications using Oracle Topology Manager and Oracle Network Model. Last year Haris became interested in the opportunities offered by the OSGEO. He submitted his FDO Oracle data provider, King.Oracle, which has received a lot of positive attention. The King.Oracle provider supports Oracle XE (the free Oracle) as well as Oracle Locator and Spatial. He also developed www.GeoREST.org a web-centric framework for distributing geospatial data. Haris is currently a member of the MapGuide and FDO PSC (Project Steering Committee).

Photo of Geoff Zeiss

Geoff Zeiss

Autodesk, Inc.

Geoff is a technology evangelist at Autodesk. His particular interests are open source geospatial, Web 2.0 and its contribution to addressing the challenges facing infrastructure management, and the convergence of architectural, engineering, geospatial, and 3D simulation and its implications for egovernment.

Geoff came to Autodesk from MCI VISION* Solutions where he was Director of Product Development. VISION* Solutions is credited with pioneering RDBMS-based spatial data management, CAD/GIS integration, and UML modeling in the utility, communications, and public works industries. He has more than 10 years experience developing enterprise geospatial solutions for the utilities, communications, and public works industries.

Geoff is a frequent speaker at geospatial events around the world including Where 2.0, OSCON, GITA (US, Australia, Japan), GeoBrazil, GeoTec, Location Intelligence, MapIndia, GIS in the Rockies, World Map Forum, Map Middle East, and MapAsia and recently received Speaker Excellence Awards at GITA 2007 and 2008.