Worldmap: A Spatial Infrastructure to Support Teaching and Research (Summary of the September Brown Bag Talk by Ben Lewis)
My colleague, Ben Lewis, who is system architect and project manager for WorldMap, created at the Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard presented this talk as part of the Program on Information Science Brown Bag Series. Ben is an expert in GIS systems and platforms and has developed many interesting tools in this area.
In his talk, below, Ben discusses the WorldMap platform (http://worldmap.harvard.edu), which is claimed to be the largest open source collaborative mapping system in the world, with over 13,000 map layers contributed by thousands of users from around the world. Researchers may upload large spatial datasets to the system, create data-driven visualizations, edit data, and control access. Users may keep their data private, share it in groups, or publish to the world. Ben discussed current work to create and maintain a global registry of map services and take us a step closer to one-stop-access for public geospatial data.
A number of themes ran through Ben’s presentation:
- Space time coordinates are an organizing facet for a huge variety of human and natural information — everything that happens, happens at a particular time and place.
- Most of the geospatial web cannot be discovered through standard search engines. A major goal of Ben’s projects is to expose this “dark geoweb”, which he estimates to comprise millions of map layers.
- Libraries need to be increasingly savvy about space in choosing and developing platforms for discovery and analysis, so that their clients can benefit from advances in GIS services and platforms and geospatial collections.