Home Articles Data Sharing System for E-Government – IIMS Solution

Data Sharing System for E-Government – IIMS Solution

Kenji Endo
Basic Engineering Co., Ltd.
1) Takasaki East Tower 6F, 16-11 Sakae-cho, Takasaki, Gunma 370-0841, Japan
Tel: 81-27-327-5431, Fax: 81-27-327-7415
Email: [email protected]
Web: https://www.basicengineering.com

Fuhu Ren
240-8211 Ackroyd Road, Richmond, BC V6X 3K8, Canada
Tel: 1-604-214-1456, Fax: 1-604-214-1457
Email: [email protected]

1. Information Integrated Management System (IIMS) Solution
The Information Integrated Management System (IIMS) is a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) product developed by Basic Engineering Co., Ltd. It provides a total solution through an integrated mechanism of catalogue services, metadata integration, distributive unstructured data management, security control and GIS data interoperability (Endo and Ren, 2001).

IIMS unique concept for data sharing is based-on the service to integrate distributive and diversified data resources for distributive and diversified data applications. The basic considerations are as the following:

  1. The source data could contain different types (such as documents, spread sheets, pictures, images, GIS maps, multimedia files, and databases) and in various formats. The data could be distributive at networked computers.
  2. The metadata and data catalog shall be accessible from a central point (a server computer) without physically accessing the original data.
  3. Client could register, maintain, search or access the data from remote computers and use the data in various applications.

The following explains the technical components of IIMS solution.

1.1 Catalog Services
Catalog is to support organization, discovery, and access of data and information. Catalog services are one of the key functions for data sharing GIS. Because network GIS often links with vast amounts of Geospatial information resources, it is only through catalog searches that users can efficiently find the data suitable to their purposes. Without a catalog, it is almost impossible to locate the correct data, even when the data exist.

IIMS provides catalog services through its metadata server that allows remote search on the metadata database and access distributive data linked with the catalog. The registration, editing and maintenance can be done remotely by data owners. The catalog services can be accessed through IIMS Java Client software, Web Browser, or IIMS Application Programming Interface (API).

Figure 1 shows the main windows of IIMS Client for searching catalog and downloading dataset.

Figure 1 IIMS Client for Searching Catalog and Downloading Dataset
1.2 Metadata
Metadata are data that describe the content, quality, condition, and other characteristics of GIS data. Metadata is very important for user to find, understand and process the shared data.

Metadata are the core data in IIMS for search and understanding contents data. Depending on the type of the contents data, metadata usually contain the information such as title and keywords, abstract of contents, contact of author, spatial coverage, and technical information.

IIMS catalog provides services to search and browse metadata. Since IIMS can host sharing of data in different formats, not limited to text data and databases, it is impossible to search through the data contents directly but must through the metadata. IIMS metadata are structured descriptive data over unstructured contents data for search and understanding the contents data. Metadata play the role as indexes for unified one-stop search to quickly find the accurate data of interest.

Considering there are many metadata standards for different data types and resources, IIMS allows users to define multiple metadata models for different purposes. The metadata model can be a flat list, or hierarchical. Templates for popular metadata standards, such as the Content Standards for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM) by the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), are provided for user to easily configure their standard metadatabases.

For each metadatabase, multiple views can be defined for search or quick catalog listing. Each view can contain full or partial metadata items in the metadata model. This feature allows users to concentrate on certain metadata items for convenience in different situations. The metadata for spatial location can be defined by points or rectangles. Index maps can be registered to such spatial items showing the location on a map or by collecting coordinates from a map. Word (or location name) lists can be defined for String or spatial items. Users can select a word from a word list for String items, or get the location of spatial items from a location name list.

1.3 Distributive Data Archive and Management
IIMS provides services to manage distributive data and share the data anywhere and any time. Figure 2 shows a typical architecture of deploying IIMS in a multi-departmental organization for sharing data. Each department has an IIMS data server to store its valuable data, there is a metadata server hosted by information center that contains the metadata of all data for sharing in the organization. Data are still maintained and updated by each department in charge, internal users can access via LAN while external users can access through Internet.

Figure 2 Scenario of Application of IIMS in E-Government
1.3.1 Distributive data servers.
IIMS Data servers are established to archive the data for sharing. Such data server can provide access services with proper protection and can be left in service all the time, while the data owner’s computer may be shut off or taken away when the owner is not at work. The storage space for both the owner’s computer and user’s computers can be saved, since they can access the archived data at IIMS data server when needed. Thus, they do not need to keep a permanent copy of data in their local computers (except if they want to save downloading time). So ideally, only one copy (besides the backup copies) of a dataset is needed.

If all data are stored at a single server, when the data volume is huge, the performance would not be satisfied. If all the data are accumulated in a single server, when the data volume is huge or when massive users are concurrently accessing the data server, the server workload could be very heavy and so may become very slow. Distributive server systems can distribute the data accessing workload for better performance. When the disk is full, a single server system is difficult to be extended for more space. It’s almost impossible to host complete data resources accumulated in years of a huge organization by a single data server. In IIMS, new data servers can be extended at any time and anywhere to avoid this problem.

There are also managerial issues. There are often issues about who should provide and maintain the data servers. In each department, there may be some sensitive data that must be kept within the department and shared internally. Data owner may worry about safety of storing its data to a data server of other department. In such cases, it’s not feasible to submit the data to the centralized server, but must be kept on their own servers. On the other hand, a department may not like to host data from other department at its own data server. When all data are stored in a centralized server, for security reason and managerial regulations, the server administrator may have to take care of the overall data input, updating and maintenance. Alone with the growth of the data contents, such work will become so huge and impossible to be done efficiently on time. With IIMS, each department or group can have its own data server(s) for storing its own data. IIMS metadata server just provides catalog service for distributive data instead of hosting actual contents data. The maintenance work can be shared by respective departments.

Moreover, particularly for GIS, it’s often impossible to put all spatial data in different formats into a single database at one data server. IIMS provides registration and search services for various data servers that host data of different types and in different formats.

1.3.2 Centralized metadata Server.
Some systems manage metadata and data together at same location. When there are multiple data servers and a large number of datasets, searching metadata have do be done from each location. This may cost much time and add burden to each data server because each data server has to respond to search request even no data of interest available. This way may also make many difficulties to keep a compatibility of metadata from different data servers.

IIMS allows data from multiple data servers to be registered to a centralized metadata server. Through a centralized metadata server, IIMS can quickly search all available data from integral metadatabases. IIMS data servers don’t need to serve for data search but only serve for data access. Furthermore, as described in the following, IIMS also provides a gateway (Data Exchange System) to support unified search over multiple metadata servers.

1.3.3. Integrating multiple metadatabases from different metadata servers.
A standard IIMS configuration is a metadata server with multiple data servers. This is called an IIMS Data Sharing System (DSS). However in certain cases, multiple such DSS systems are needed. The reason for multiple DSS could be one of the following:

  1. There are multiple organizations each independently established its own IIMS DSS system. So each has its own metadata server.
  2. Different groups have different metadata standards and management rules; this makes a single metadata server impossible.
  3. For a large organization, particularly with geographically distributive branches, the metadata volume could be too large to be hosted by a single metadata server.

When the organizations want to promote high-level data sharing among their internal IIMS DSS systems, IIMS provides a solution with IIMS Data Exchange System (DES) that enables multiple metadata servers to be searched integrally.

The purpose of IIMS DES is to allow data search and exchange among multiple metadata servers of IIMS DSS. It is like a gateway to allow user easier search through multiple DSS systems each with a metadata server. Each metadata server can contain multiple metadatabases, and those metadatabases may have different metadata standards and definitions.

1.4 On-Line Data Processing
This will be an important feature of IIMS future version. IIMS will support data to be processed on-line when demanded by client at uploading to and downloading from IIMS data server. This feature allows the following extensions for specific applications:

  1. Dynamic distributive database connection;
  2. On-line data encryption/decryption for enhanced data security;
  3. On-line data compression to reduce server space usage and data downloading time;
  4. On-demand data extraction for remote sensing imagery, digital maps, OLAP, etc.;
  5. Data format conversion; and
  6. Accounting for data on-line trading (e-commerce).

1.5 Data Security
Apart from server security, the archived data shall be properly protected because:

  1. Owner wants only authorized persons to modify its data when necessary.
  2. Owner requires that its data are only seen and used by certain people, because of non-disclosure restrictions, or for the purposes of selling data.
  3. User needs to be sure the data are the original version published by its owner.

IIMS provides the following flexible security measures to assure security and authority to access IIMS servers and the data:

  1. User account will be verified through a central user database at IIMS metadata server when accessing metadata or data from any registered distributive data server. User doesn’t need to be registered repeatedly to each data server.
  2. Only the users authorized by system manager can upload data files to a data server. This helps to prevent illegal occupation of disk space at data servers.
  3. The owner of a dataset can allow only users belong to certain user groups to be able to view and access its data. The catalog will be hidden from users who have no authority to access the dataset. The owner can also assign only certain users to have the authority to modify the catalog and the linked dataset. This function allows a user to assign different security-level to each dataset with maximum flexibility. For example, financial report dataset may be only assessable to high-rank officials; planning map dataset may be only available to planners before publication, while announcement dataset can be opened to every staff.
  4. Data files at a data server can not be accessed directly, but must through the IIMS data server access service. Thus, all access is under security/authority control of IIMS.
  5. Each access and operation from IIMS user will be recorded in IIMS log database, IIMS manager can read the log information to monitor and trace illegal use of system and data.
  6. Concurrent editing of a dataset is controlled by locking/unlocking functions to make sure the modification on data is not lost.
  7. Data user can query IIMS to show real owner information to assure no fake data publication.
  8. As a supplementary security, data owner could make its dataset encrypted when uploading to IIMS. Users shall then contact the owner to get a proper key to decrypt the dataset at downloading.

1.6 GIS Data Interoperability
Interoperability is a big issue. Because different GIS systems may be connected to the network, the data resources may be in various formats and projections. Without data interoperability, on-line access is meaningless and on-line processing is impossible. Ideally, every GIS on the network will provide a unique interface for data access, as defined by OpenGIS specifications. Otherwise the data format/projection conversion services shall be provided by the data server, so the user or applications can get the data in its needed format.

IIMS provides a GIS format converter to provide GIS format and projection conversion services on the data server. Most popular GIS data formats, such as ArcView Shape, Arc/Info E00, MapInfo MIF, AutoCAD DXF, USGS, DLG, G-XML, and some native formats often used in Japan, are supported.

1.7 Networking GIS
A GIS system called GeoBasic®, which has been developed by Basic Engineering Co., Ltd. is integrated with IIMS to provide viewing and manipulating functions of distributive Geo-Spatial Data (Ren et al. 1998). Within GeoBasic, users can directly search digital maps and images registered to IIMS and stored in distributive data servers, and directly load the data into GeoBasic for viewing, analyzing or plotting. Users can also create or modify maps and register to an IIMS data server for real-time sharing with other users. Other GIS can be integrated with IIMS through IIMS API too. Figure 3 shows the concept of integrating distributive data from different departments through IIMS.

Figure 3 Integration of Distributive Spatial Data Through IIMS
1.8 Web Access
IIMS supports two client modes: Java Client and Web Client. Although IIMS Java Client can be used to access IIMS servers through either Intranet or Internet, but for assuring security or avoiding client installation, web client accessed can be supported. Web client is for external users to access the catalog services and Geo-Spatial data through Internet with a commercial web browser, such as IE or Netscape. Web Client or Web GIS can access the data servers through IIMS Web Server, so web user can use up-to-date data in real-time. All transmission for Web access is through XML. IIMS can be a backbone system of Web GIS to manage the server data and supply data in real-time from distributive data servers.

2. Application of IIMS in E-government Projects

2.1 Prefecture Networking GIS
Participating the national-wide e-government (e-Japan) movement, a pioneer Prefecture in Japan has recently acquired IIMS and GeoBasic and established a data sharing networking GIS for the government of the Prefecture. Leading by the Information System Department, totally twelve departments have participated the data sharing system, covering the data and management in construction, river, road, sanitation, environment, culture, natural resource, and disaster prevention. Each department creates and maintains data generated for its own business. All data are registered to an IIMS metadata server managed by the Information System Department for sharing with other departments. GeoBasic and IIMS Client are installed for individual users in each department. GIS data are registered and manipulated through GeoBasic, the integrated GIS tool for IIMS.

The scenarios of the prefecture GIS is shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4 Scenario of Japanese Prefecture GIS
2.2 River Information Management System
A major river management office in middle Japan has acquired IIMS and established a distributive river information management system. This management office, with 12 divisions, 9 filed brach offices, and around 150 staffs, has the responsibility to monitoring and manage 11 important rivers. Over 100 projects are implemented and over 1500 license applications are received in each yaer. Various types of data are gathered and shall be managed. Among them the most important are:

  • Project data
  • Construction data
  • Check porint data
  • License application data
  • Disaster information

The formats are diversified, such as documents, forms, CAD drawings, digital maps, and pictures. All those different types of data are now registered to a river information management system based-on IIMS (Figure 5). Staff from the different devisions in headquarter and geographically distributive brach offices can search and access the databases from anywhere through Intranet or Internet. More importatantly a knowledge database is also created on IIMS to share the intellenece information among staff in job training and solving problems. The work effiency and information management are greatly improved. In near future the system will be extended to include other kinds of data and support various business applications.

Figure 5 IIMS for River Information Management

2.3 Technical Data Sharing System

An organization in Japan is now implementing a project to integrate and share the technical data and information for improving space equipment manufacturing and operation. IIMS is chosen as the backbone of the technical data sharing system. The data that will be managed and shared through IIMS include the following:

  • Standard business documents (regulations, specifications, requirements, etc.)
  • Technical information (technical information from domestic/foreign space agency and manufacturers, reports, analytic data, image data, CAD data, knowledge data, etc.)
  • Internal documents (meeting minutes, travel reports, etc.)
  • Purchased book and paper materials.

The technical data will be able to be exchanged among domestic agencies as well as with foreign agencies (Figure 6).

Figure 6 The Conceptual Structure of the Technical Data Sharing System
2.4 Geospatial Data Sharing System
Five Universities in Japan have been cooperating in Yakushima Zero Emissions Project, a research project on resource recycling and sustainable society model. Rich results and data have been developed by participating institutions. To enforce the sharing and exchange the information and data, particularly the base map and spatial database of Yakushima, among participating researchers, a spatial data sharing system is being developed using IIMS.

The five participating Universities are:

  • United Nations University (UNU)
  • Kagoshima University
  • Tokyo Institute of Technology
  • Aichi Gakuin University
  • Toyohashi University of Technology

Figure 7 shows the sample screens of web interface of the system. Figure 8 shows the hardware and software configurations of the system.

Figure 7 Web Interface of Kagoshima Zero Emissions Project Spatial Data Sharing System
2.5 Digital City
Digital city is another name for e-government at municipal level in China. The objective of Digital City is to promote digitization and utilization of urban information resources through an integrated data management and sharing system, and improve the information service to government agencies, enterprises and the public.

Chengdu city, the capital of Sichuan province, is a pioneer in digital city construction in China. At the first phase, IIMS was adopted to develop an Urban Information Resource Management Platform. The system is composed of three tiers as shown in Figure 9. Data Tier is the base for creating and maintaining data resources. Management Tier is realized by IIMS providing fast metadata query and distributive data accessing capabilities. Through the IIMS data sharing system, the Service Tier provides services to various data and information users.

Figure 10 and 11 present two typical application scenarios of the data sharing system in Digital Chengdu.

Figure 8 Hardware/Software Configurations of Kagoshima Zero Emissions Project Spatial Data Sharing System

Figure 9 Three Tiers of Data Sharing System for Digital Chengdu

Figure 10 Sharing Information to Support Decision Making

Figure 11 Sharing Information to Support Disaster Mitigation
2.6 Disaster Prevention System
A national agency for disaster prevention in Mexico has started a project for establishing the National Atlas of Risks (ANR, by their letters in Spanish) and the System for Identification of Risks of Disasters in Mexico (Siiride, by their letters in Spanish).

Those projects demand the extensive use of shared information among departments and institutions. Basic Engineering Co. Ltd. is invited to develop the solutions on shared information systems that could satisfy their requirements by using IIMS Technology.

The National Atlas of Risk is a project for incorporating all information related to risk of disasters in Mexico. The main goal is to create an information system that evolves in time by the distributed aggregation of digital files. As an initial step, a shared information system for generating all the basic information for the ANR will be developed for all the different departments to contribute with their files and databases.

The following data will be included into the data sharing system:

  • Informative Maps
  • Reports of Popocatepetl Volcano
  • Reports of Hurricanes
  • Industries with hazardous substances
  • Database of chemical accidents
  • Seismic Events

The Siiride is a complex system for risk assessment. The integration with IIMS is fundamental for making analysis for different governmental dependencies. Each of those dependencies has their own requirements for using the information maintained by IIMS. Therefore, several different models for risk assessment and analysis must be shared through the solution. Figure 12 shows the general architecture and data flow of the system.

Figure 12 General Architecture and Data Flow of IIMS-ANR-Siiride System

  • Fuhu Ren, et al. 1998, Information Infrastructure Management System (IIMS) and Networking GIS. Proceedings of UM3’98 International Workshop on Urban Multi-Media/3D Mapping, Tokyo, Japan, 88-95
  • Kenji Endo and Fuhu Ren. 2001, IIMS-A Data Sharing Platform for Networking GIS, Asian Journal of Geoinformatics, 1, 4, 91-96.