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Working on Spatial Data quality and pragmatic enterprise solutions.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Neo-geography by numbers

I've always believed life's a numbers game (OK, accuse me of being a left-brained rationalist) - look at it: elections, the economy, 'all good things come in threes', online poker, and the list goes on.
So, as a bit of entertainment, let's look at some topics in neo-geography by counting up. This post will go from two to four, and I'll be happy to take suggestions for topics for number five and further (though I have some wicked ideas already).  
TWO paradigm shifts
In my previous post, I identify two key paradigm shifts in Neo-Geography. The first one is the shift away from digital maps emulating paper maps. Digital maps are becoming spatial canvases for collecting, searching, exploring, integrating, and sharing information. The second paradigm shift is the one where location-based systems (particularly mobile) are no longer about exploring 'somewhere else', but about getting information about 'where I am now'.

THREE trends on how local governments can adopt Geospatial Web 2.0 platforms
That doesn't roll of the tongue very well, and is unlikely to impress that cute girl in the bar on a Friday night. Nevertheless, this chapter from a report by Sukumar Ganapati (hint: scroll to the end) does a good job identifying three important trends in neo-geography that will empower (local) governments implementing better citizen participation.

Firstly: the ability to make (GIS) data available as online services (i.e. machine readable APIs), greatly enhances transparency.
Second: tapping into information collected by citizens is much easier with location enabled mobile phones, theoretically turning every citizen into a human sensor reporting anything from potholes to bushfires or traffic jams.
Thirdly: enhancing Citizen Participation in Decision Making. This is currently least developed, but the potential, for instance in collaborative urban planning, is enormous.

The FOUR Cs of Spatially Enabled Government
These were presented by Warwick Watkins, NSW Surveyor General, in his keynote at the FIG2010 conference in Sydney last Month.

These Cs combine to form the four critical ingredients for successfully spatially enabling government.

The Cloud not only lowers the threshold for governments to participate, by offering functionality and through subscription services, but also greatly enhances the access to base data such as Bing Maps or Google Maps.
Which segues into Content: make sure you offer as much as you can, update regularly, and (often overlooked) don't worry about the visualisation. Content is king, leave the development of viewers and portals to the users.
Which brings us to Code: the provision of online service APIs is what enables user communities to adapt your content, mash-it up to their heart's delight and use it for purposes we could not have begun to imagine!
Finally, Commons refers to the need for good, consistent and standardised governance, and licensing that protects IP while maximising take-up.

(this summary is mine, and not taken verbatim from Warwick's Keynote)

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