Something special is happening with spatial data on the web. Those looking to select the best methodology have an immense number of practices to evaluate first. Just look at the many ways in which geographical data (spatial data with a relation to the earth's surface) can be shared on the web. And there’s more, because spatial data is not the exclusive domain of geographers. Aspects of spatiality can be found in virtually all areas of human activity. As such, many domain-specific ways have been developed to express spatial data. All in all, there are a huge number of standards and practices.Spatial data is everywhere. It would be a shame if all that useful data remained in its own dark corners of the web, without the possibility of combining it. Space is, just like time, a universal phenomenon and all these data points therefore have the potential to complement each other perfectly. If it were possible to align all this diverse data, it would result in a ‘dataverse’, which would excite even the most ardent of space explorers. Unfortunately, however, space is not yet a dimension in the data web that can be navigated well.
Frans Knibbe’s blog Making space for spatial data on the web
In an ideal world, spatial data is easily shared everywhere on the worldwide web. Unfortunately, this is still a long way off. There is currently no agreement on a single method for dealing with spatial data on the web, but that’s exactly what we need. In this blog, Geodan Research’s Frans Knibbe explores the potential of a new universal web structure for spatial data.
Recently, I had the privilege of participating in discussions on how the web could become a better place for data at the annual W3C TPAC conference. A noble goal, because sharing all kinds of data can give mankind the knowledge and wisdom that it so desperately needs. Good methods have already been found for sharing raw data, making it much easier to find, understand, process, and combine data. Recent examples of this include the Data on the Web Best Practices and a draft recommendation from the W3C. In addition, Google has provided a manual on how scientific datasets can be provided with a suitable context with terms from schema.org to increase findability. For spatial data in particular, the Spatial Data on the Web Working Group (SDWWG), in which Geodan also participates, is expanding the general Data on the Web Best Practices guidelines to Best Practices for Spatial Data on the Web.