‘Time is as critical as space in world description’

‘Time is as critical as space in world description’


The GeoWeb can be approached from a variety of perspectives. Essentially, GeoWeb is system of systems that involve knowledge and interaction with the physical world.

Ron Lake
Ron Lake
Chairman & CEO
Galdos Systems Inc.

Galdos aims to leverage the GeoWeb. Please elaborate on the concept of GeoWeb.
The GeoWeb can be approached from a variety of perspectives. Essentially, GeoWeb is system of systems that involve knowledge and interaction with the physical world. The “Geo” can refer to either geographic information or the entire globe, while “web” can refer to a web of systems or the web as in World Wide Web. GeoWeb can be seen as the collection of these systems of systems that deal with real world problems like air traffic management, public safety and security, urban planning, design, construction and operation. For us, GeoWeb means enterprise or pan-enterprise application integration.

How do you visualise the role of the Geography Markup Language (GML) in the geospatial industry? Which applications can particularly benefit from this technology?
GML is about the representation and encoding of geographic information. GML is used by creating an application vocabulary for a particular domain based on GML rules and primitives (e.g. point, polygon, solid etc). Many application schemas have been created including AIXM (air traffic management), CityGML (urban planning and intelligent infrastructure), GeoSciML (geological sciences), WXXM (aviation weather) and MarineXML (maritime domain), to name a few. These have become international standards in their own right. The power of GML now clearly rests on the exploitation of these application schemas.

With the volume of geospatial data growing by day, how do you keep your data sharing technologies updated to handle the growing volume and enable sharing in real time?
This is an issue that has concerned Galdos from the beginning. As data volumes and demand for higher accuracy grew, we quickly realised that data sharing must be based on the sharing of incremental changes, since it is impractical to copy multiple gigabytes of data across the web on an hourly or even daily basis. In addition, we have designed our data sharing components like INdicio and INtune to be as scalable as possible. This enables us to respond to large numbers of data providers and consumers and the increasing data traffic. Our event-driven peer to peer publication/subscription architecture is designed with large data volumes and growth in mind.

What are the technical challenges in real-time geospatial data sharing?
There are multiple challenges. While the automatic fine grain pub-sub process greatly reduces the network traffic and makes it possible to deal with ever-growing data volumes, it is not easy to implement. Furthermore, we have to ensure that the pub-sub process is not only robust, but also efficient and scalable in itself. These necessitate the need to have sophisticated matching algorithms so that we can quickly find all subscribers that match a given publisher’s data change or automatically bundle publications for efficient distribution.

You have talked about the increasing role of the “time” dimension in geotechnology. Can you elaborate more on this?
Time is critical to many real world problems like air traffic management, urban infrastructure and public safety and security. Moving objects, objects that change shape or are built, modified and eventually demolished are all part of the real world. GML provides specific constructs for the expression of time (e.g. time instant, durations, dynamic features etc). These are beginning to be used in application schemas such as AIXM 5.0 in which all features are dynamic features. Dynamic features have time varying properties, the values of which are captured in so-called “time slices.” I anticipate that these constructs will be used for the description of objects in many other domains including CityGML in the not too distant future. Time is just as important to our description of the world as space.

Spatial data infrastructure (SDI) is being widely acknowledged as a necessary tool to manage the all-pervasive spatial information. What benefits can Galdos’ In-Tune SDI framework provide in establishing successful SDIs?
INtune supports the secure, fine grained, real time distribution of geospatial or other data on a publication subscription basis. It can make data sharing not only automatic but relatively non-intrusive. Users can keep using their existing clients, databases or web services while still effectively sharing data with other members of the community. With INtune, publishers do no need to maintain any list of data consumers or carry out any actions to initiate data publication. Data distribution can happen silently and automatically. INtune’s scalability enables users to deal with large volumes of data.

What stage of the SDI process does In-Tune SDI framework address? Also, with SDI activity happening at global, national and local levels, is there any particular level that would benefit the most from In-Tune, in sync with its technological specifications?
Galdos can provide complete SDI solutions. We view an SDI as consisting of software to deal with several functions including creation/maintenance of the community of participants, management of common information (e.g. schemas, enumerations/code lists, units of measure, coordinate reference systems etc), information sharing mechanisms and security and common information views. Galdos’ INdicio provides the means to deal with the first and second functions, while INTune supports the last two. INtune participants look at their information (and other providers information they subscribe to) along with their own clients. Nonetheless, there are times when shared views of information are needed, such as while communicating with the public or providing synoptic views of a city to planners and senior decision makers. Our view is that by and large, SDI should be built bottom up. We also believe that information sharing is more critical in urban environments. For that reason, we are focusing on SDI as a part of intelligent 3D city models. INtune is equally applicable at all scales. INdicio provides the means to publish, search, discover and retrieve the wide variety of artefacts from coordinate reference systems to schemas and code lists that arise in any SDI.

You have observed that even with proper technology standards in place, governments and businesses are not realising the full potential of new mapping technologies. What in your view can be done to realise this potential?
Developing nations are demonstrating great interest in using information technology to intelligently plan and operate physical infrastructure. In some ways, it is a matter of education to get governments, consultants and others to realise the urgency of responding to global challenges of urbanisation and climate change. I think once people understand the consequences of these two interconnected challenges, they will realise the need to embrace new approaches to urban planning, design and construction (among other things). They will then approach these new “mapping” technologies as essential elements of our response.