Thursday, November 04, 2010

NGDS as the "killer app"

The National Geothermal Data System was described as the "killer app" (i.e., application) for the concept of distributed Web services and the Geoscience Information Network (GIN). Matt Harris with the British Geological Survey, offered that interpretation to the participants at the OneGeology-Europe final review in Paris last week, and it was one of those eureka moments. Those of us working to implement GIN as the data integration framework for NGDS are so buried in the project that we may have missed the obvious.

GIN is a 3-year old collaboration between the State Geologists (via AASG) and the USGS to build a national distributed geoscience data network. It was adopted by the U.S. Dept. of Energy Geothermal Technologies Program last year for the NGDS with AZGS as the prime contractor to deploy the network nationwide among state surveys and populate it with vast amounts of digital data relevant to geothermal energy exploration and development.

The OneGeology-Europe project paid my way to Paris to present an external view in the wrap-up of their two-year project to build a continent-wide data network among 20 nations. In my formal remarks, I applauded the OneGeology project as the continents flagship effort that proved the technology and architectural approach that we are now emulating in the U.S. They have 40 Web services working in 17 languages and are harmonizing geological maps across the borders of Europe. AZGS has been working closely with OneGeology through our geoinformatics chief, Steve Richard, to develop joint vocabularies and specifications so the two continent-wide data systems will be compatible and integrated.

From Paris, it was off to Denver for the annual Geological Society of America meeting and an open forum on the emerging National Geoinformatics Community. Dr. Richard Hughes, Director of Information and Knowledge Exchange of the BGS, who was also with us in Paris, reaffirmed the 'killer app' title and declared that the GIN-NGDS project was the most significant project in North America.

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