Friday, September 07, 2007

The Geospatial Web - Place and Time based Knowledge

I have recently spent some time looking at the work being presented at the 2007 GeoWeb 2007 conference held in Vancouver, B.C. on July 23-27. and am highly impressed by the movement toward "geographic or place based" information that is also "temporal or time based." The language being used to describe how place and time based information is generated includes The Semantic Web, Web 2.0 Social Networking concepts, existing and new scientific and expert knowledge, 2-D and 3-D images, video and animation and virtual visualization of future scenarios. An interesting new development is the greatly increased use of mobile smart phone technology for accessing and even producing geospatial information.

I was particularly impressed by the "keynote podcasts" presentations given by Vinton Cerf - one of the "Fathers of the Internet," Jack Dangermond, Founder and President of ESRI, and Michael Jones, CTO, Google Earth.

From GeoWeb conferences and other sources many of the best articles from renowned international experts about the Geospatial Web has been edited into an important new 2007 book with 25 chapters by Arno Scharl and Klaus Tochtermann. "The Geospatial Web" - How Geobrowsers, Social Software and the Web 2.0 are Shaping the Network Society. The book web site which also contains an Introduction, Table of Contents, Bibliography, Contributors and an Acknowledgment. A link to a "Sample Chapter" is also provided.

In this blog I have been attempting to bring together my past experiences with new information that is constantly becoming available about how we can use the Internet effectively to address ecosystem and environmental issues that should concern local and global citizens. Our work with Mountain Visions over the past 28 years and with the University of Oregon Outdoor Program for 12 years before that has almost always incorporated mapping, social networking, and communication elements that now are becoming much easier, interesting and exciting for anyone who learns how to use them.. As I wrote in my last post, "An Unknown and Worldwide - Common Adventure and Environmental and Social Movement" it is becoming clear that there are numerous social environmental projects that have been ongoing for years and many more are emerging now that these new web tools are becoming available.

In our work creating interactive content for the web since 1995, we have tried to anticipate how citizens will become involved in place based issues if they are invited to participate in creating image and reference content and also being involved in open discussion forums. Below are links to a few examples.

One of our first web projects was in the form of a Blog with satellite messages faxed from Tom Whittaker, a disabled climber attempting to summit Mt. Everest in the spring of 1995. That same year we produced the first web site for The Peregrine Fund - World Center for Birds of Prey and another "blog" like project called Notes from the Field. Soon after we also created the first web site for the National Interagency Fire Center. In 1996 we started work on "The Aurora Project" A Virtual Exploration of Community Watershed Partnerships, with the U.S. Department of Interior and Bureau of Land Management. This included 6 distinct watersheds spread around the Western States. This led to the Interactive Watersheds project beginning in 2000 and covering 5 large scale community watersheds across the U.S. This National project was supported by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils, Inc. the U.S. Forest Service, and many other state and local groups. More recently we have been working on projects for the Jamaica Protected Area Trust with support from The Nature Conservancy, an Idaho Anadromous Outreach project called River Menders with support from the NOAA Community-based Restoration Program, the Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign supported by the Idaho Resource Advisory Committee, and the Otis Bay - River, Spring and Landscape Restoration web site. For the Otis Bay project we have created a demonstration Google Earth KMZ file using the new information provided by the Google Earth Outreach program.

I am also currently preparing some preliminary concept information for J. Michael Scott at the University of Idaho about how to create a web based project called "America 2076." Using Geospatial Web concepts that are location and time based, and incorporating social networking and Semantic Web concepts, I believe this project would provide a way for people to aggregate knowledge and visuals about specific locations and geographic areas from past and current time periods. It would also allow people to create speculative visual scenarios of what these places will look like in the future, depending on public management decisions, toward the year 2076, the Tricentennial of the U.S. Declaration of Independence in 2076.