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Interoperable Geospatial Objects

DOUGHTY, Jonathan (jwd@mitre.org), The MITRE Corporation,1820 Dolley Madison Boulevard, McLean, VA 22102

Key Words: integration, metadata, interoperability, expert system, distributed computing

Geospatial interoperability, the ability for two or more heterogeneous data sets to interact with one another, is increasingly an issue for users of spatial data. Commercial and Government sources are making increased amounts of geospatial data and applications available, in many cases outside the distribution channels that heretofore provided control on data misuse in the past. Emerging products are designed for use by non-GIS professionals who are generally unaware of the complexities of map projections, datums, scale, topology, and accuracy.

The research project that this paper describes is developing a geospatial information interoperability envelope to surmount these problems: an object that contains the methods that can act upon geospatial information in addition to the information itself. This envelope contains knowledge about the geospatial information that it accompanies and can ensure the data's integrity and pedigree. The envelope and the information it accompanies becomes "Interoperable Geospatial Objects" that can migrate from system to system.

This research seeks to demonstrate the integration of independent geospatial and imagery components by making use of emerging distributed objects and web technologies. The first stage of the research has focused on developing an interoperability model for geospatial data use: a mechanism to validate integration operations in the context of intended use and metadata about geospatial data. Geospatial objects in the current prototype are made up of metadata about the underlying data sets combined with the interoperability characteristics that are validated by the prototype as being an appropriate use of the data given the user's context.

Underlying the research prototype are a small but growing set of software geospatial "experts" that understand interoperability problems and attempt to warn the user when integration problems, e.g., mismatched datums, projections, or inappropriate scale changes, are identified.