What is ELO-Geo?

Today many aspects of geospatial science including information, standards and tools are created and developed as "open". The effect of this openness is not only the free access but also the spreading of knowledge and responsibility to the whole community: The users can also be creators and developers, thus the open geospatial community requires educated and informed users.

The objective of this project is to enable the wider community (not just GIS experts) to make use of open source geospatial tools for solving real world problems. Currently, there is a big learning curve for new users to understand and use these technologies and if a general take-up of them is to be achieved it is necessary that an open, interactive, user friendly learning framework is developed based on case study examples. As part of the project, use cases will be developed in example domains such as transportation, flood mapping and environment management. All these three use cases build upon previous work and expertise at CGS, but the project will be open to other use cases as well.

The Open Geospatial Data

The past few months have seen a number of high profile announcements on the release of central and local government data for free. The Prime Minister launched the data.gov.uk portal 'to open up data and promote transparency' and the London Mayor announced the London Data Store 'to give Londoners the chance to find out more about how the city is run'. There is great excitement in the developer community and many new mash-ups and applications have been already produced from the released data.

Open Geospatial Data at the UoN: The Centre for Geospatial Science and the Horizon Digital Economy Research at the University of Nottingham in partnership with data.gov.uk and GeoVation has announced a series of free one-day Open Data Master Classes to reach a wide cross section of people (i.e., individuals, communities, grassroots organizations, NGOs to civil servants and professionals) who can benefit from a greater understanding of the opportunities around open data in many fields like school census data, health care provision, crime statistics, environment and transportation data.

An Example: A researcher may be interested to study the distribution of bus stops in a city. The researcher can probably use data.gov.uk to locate two datasets: a CSV-formatted file of the bus stops of the city provided by the city council and a GML file of the city streets provided by Ordnance Survey. In addition to knowing that those datasets are freely available, she may need to learn extra skills on how to translate those two datasets to a single format (preferably an open standard) and how to overlay them.

The Open-Source Geospatial Software

In recent years, free and open source software is gaining in strength as a cost effective and robust alternative to proprietary software. In the case of GIS, this situation represents a particularly attractive alternative because of the high cost of many proprietary software licenses which can restrict the use of GIS in teaching and research within universities, local government authorities and also the wider geospatial community. Free and open source software allow users access to the source code and the ability to modify it, edit it, improve it and adapt it to their own needs, and redistribute it if necessary. A good example of this is the range of open source geospatial software available under the Open Source Geospatial Foundation umbrella. The range of products is increasingly broad and diverse, and there is a wide range of software (compatible with different operating systems) that provides the ability to read and work together with different raster and vector data models.

Open geospatial software at the UoN: The Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) and CGS signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment of an Open Source Geospatial Lab (OSGL) and to develop collaboration opportunities for academia, industry and government organisations in open source GIS software and data in the UK. This is the first MoU that OSGeo has signed with any university in the world and has stimulated a number of internships and related studies.

An Example: GeoServer is an open source software package for sharing and editing many kinds of geospatial data and is a reference implementation of OGC standards. A geospatial web server can be built using this software that can provide data in response to web requests using open standards. The server can act as OGC's Web Map Service, Web Catalogue Service and Web Feature Service and the data can be delivered in OGC's GML etc. The local authorities have access to the relevant data and software tools but they need to urgently establish a web server to serve distant helping agents and remote health services. They are needed to educate people in use of the required software well in advance.

The Open Geospatial Standards

The Open Geospatial Consortium -OGC is an international industry consortium of over 400 companies, government agencies and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available interface standards for geospatial data and services. The standards are described in technical documents that software developers can use them to build support for the interfaces or encodings into their products and services. When specifications are implemented by different software engineers working independently, the resulting components can work together without further matching or conversion efforts. The documents are available at no cost to everyone. Also change requests can be submitted by anyone for any existing or proposed OGC Standard.

In May 2007, the INSPIRE Directive established an infrastructure for the sharing of spatial information in Europe, in order to support European Community environmental policies. The Directive addresses 34 spatial data themes used by environmental applications. It requires that common Implementing Rules (IR) be adopted throughout the member states in order to ensure that the spatial data infrastructures of individual nations are compatible and usable in a trans-boundary context.

Open geospatial standards at the UoN: CGS is on the OGC Technical Committee and its director is on the OGC Board of Directors. CGS research aims to take place in the context of existing OGC standards wherever appropriate and to work, where necessary towards the development of extended or new standards for interoperability. It has a particular focus on the European INSPIRE Directive with funding from several EU programs. The application of interoperability to CGS research is particularly evident in the EU funded projects GIS4EU, EuroGEOSS, GIGAS and eSoTer, the joint AGILE/EuroSDR/OGC Persistent Test-Bed project and the Technology Strategy Board sensor-web funded SWIMA project.

An Example: With the support of OGC, KML (used in the Google Earth) has been adopted as an OGC standard for describing geospatial features. A surveyor has collected a series of positions in the form of latitudes and longitudes and wants to draw the surveyed map as an overlay in the Google Earth application. She will have to know the KML specification and/or details of conversion tools before proceeding with her work.

ELOGeo is an Open Project

this project will collaborate with the Landmap Service - Mimas which has a well established Learning Zone for delivering e-learning courses. Landmap is a centralised resource attracting users from a wide range of disciplines; supporting capacity building in the use of spatial data and this project will enrich Landmap with materials from open-geospatial science. Landmap will provide an effective hosting platform, with the resources to maintain the materials and market the new e-learning content to the wider community as part of their marketing plan.

We will be building OSGeo case studies -i.e. training examples- for open data, open standards building upon content available at Open-source Geospatial Foundation's Education Repository and making the content available to all and back to OSGeo Educational Repository. We envisage further development of the programme from the students as well as the open source community in an open-ended learning framework. The project outputs are reusable under Creative Commons Licensing in order to support the open geospatial community.

ELOGeo Project Learning Resources Community