OneGeology: Assisting Geological Surveys worldwide to interoperate seamlessly on the next generation internet

Category Other
Group GSI.IR
Location International Geological Congress,oslo 2008
Author Wyborn, Lesley۱; Cox, Simon J D۲; Woodcock, Robert۲
Holding Date 09 September 2008

Maps in hard copy paper format have been the traditional way of delivering much geoscience data since 1815. In the last 20 years, Geological Surveys have been releasing map data digitally, increasingly via web sites. These data are usually available in formats that are cartographically oriented, or at best reflect internal private schemas, and are delivered through proprietary formats making it very difficult to integrate data from different sources. Global or continent scale compilations take years of effort and results may conflict with data from the same area available elsewhere. There is also an increasing need for geoscience data to be seamlessly accessible to other scientific disciplines, but traditional (manual) data integration methods are not scalable.

Interoperability is the new paradigm. It requires an informatics infrastructure which provides discovery and exchange layers based on open standards, that seamlessly connect distributed data sources and processing services. International standards best underpin the exchange layer, and include OGC/ISO standards such as GML, WMS and WFS (which apply to other scientific domains). GeoSciML provides a standard information exchange model specifically for geoscience data.

OneGeology is based on this new paradigm. It is planned as a distributed model - a dynamic set of geological map data served mostly on a national basis by individual geological surveys and other bodies to a web portal. The maps are provided as web services, but the provider keeps full control of their map, and it is still possible to access all the services to compose a global coverage. Any updates and improvements are made accessible at each site and any new combined data sets created dynamically on the fly will always contain the latest information.

Each participating agency must map from their own private schemas to the public distribution schemas of the information exchange layer. The minimum technical capability for a Geological Survey to contribute a WMS as a pictorial map image to OneGeology is an existing web server and the technical staff to maintain and support that. At a higher level, WFS is the actual data in GML XML form, but to participate at WFS level, a fairly mature internal information infrastructure is required. Technical components to bind the layer together are built as open source objects by one agency (eg, BRGM adapted GeoNetwork, whilst AuScope refined GeoServer). The results are then available to anyone in OneGeology and to any inteoperable community.

A key outcome from OneGeology adopting ISO/OGC based standards is that its data will be able to interoperate with any other discipline using ISO/OGC based standards. There are parallel global initiatives within geospatial, water, marine, and climate areas. Thus OneGeology can participate in cross-disciplinary research to meet the challenge of truly integrative science to address issues such as climate change, natural resource management and renewable energy.