FAQ - GeoPlatform Capabilities

Under what authority is GeoPlatform.gov operating and being guided by?

The Geospatial Platform (GeoPlatform) is a strategic US national resource that supports the Administration’s Open Government, Open Data, and Digital Government strategies to enhance transparency, collaboration, and participation. GeoPlatform provides a suite of managed, geospatial data, services, and applications for use by the public, industry, federal, state, local, and tribal agencies to meet their mission needs. The new launch of GeoPlatform is based on various Cloud Native Free and Open Source Geospatial components.

GeoPlatform provides a searchable geospatial metadata catalog, access to geospatial data, integration with the GeoPlatform ArcGIS Online Enterprise Organization (AGOL), and a community shared workspace dedicated to the work of individual agencies, OMB Circular A-16 themes, and cross-cutting program areas. GeoPlatform is the authorized source for all official US National Geospatial Data Assets (NGDAs). The NGDAs are organized in 17 Data Themes as guided by the U.S. Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC).

What is new or different about GeoPlatform.gov?

In 2020, GeoPlatform, operating under the authority of the Geospatial Data Act of 2018, redeveloped GeoPlatform to better meet the FAIR data principles to make data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. The redeveloped GeoPlatform includes:

  • A new harvesting capability for harvesting geospatial records from http://data.gov

  • Open Standard Geospatial Cloud Serverless Product Generation - GeoPlatform.gov evaluates harvested NGDAs, evaluates where open standard files are missing, and then generates and publishes open standard format files (GeoJSON, GeoPackage, Shapefiles), tiles (Map Vector, XYZ Raster), and OGC Web Services (WMS, WFS) using Cloud infrastructure and triggered serverless functions.

  • Improved Discovery & Preview Platform - With a set of quality harvesting rules, GeoPlatform.gov is focused on “less is more”. This new site is based on open-source components (GeoNetwork, TerriaJS, more) with capabilities for suppliers to improve their results through improving their metadata.

  • The GeoPlatform components are available for open source re-use - This includes the catalog, viewer, tile generation, open standard web server, data pipeline, open standard product generation. The components will continue to be made available for broader community for use.

As well of note, a core principle of the new GeoPlatform.gov is that it has transitioned to a heavy Open Source Geospatial solution to support in the strategic application domains of National Spatial Data Infrastructures. The code will be made available, including demonstrations of applications of the datasets in services, API, applications to encourage further “building on shoulders of giants” and re-use.

How do I search GeoPlatform.gov

Geospatial data found on GeoPlatform.gov is expected over time to primarily be found initially “in the wild” on search engines across the internet. Once on GeoPlatform.gov, there are various ways to filter, cross-reference, sort common to many web sites with catalogs. Some search features on GeoPlatform.gov are:

  • GeoPlatform search currently searches the title and description.

  • GeoPlatform provides a condensed and full detailed view by presenting the full geospatial metadata details directly from the provided source file.

  • GeoPlatform search page facets are currently limited, as refinement on use and need drive where to improve. Current facets are resource type, topics, contact or organization, data resource formats, and data resource status

  • GeoPlatform currently adds additional emphasis to National Geospatial Data Asset (NGDAs) exploration. This includes additional search page tab filtering by NGDA, viewing NGDAs by themes, and additional open standard product and service generation for NGDA theme datasets.

  • GeoPlatform detailed information pages support clicking on topics and other tags to then search those records

  • The home page highlights recent data changes via metrics/charts, data showcases, and quick lookups for updates in the catalog.

  • GeoPlatform search enhancements being considered:

  • Improve publishing of datasets to increase discovery “in the wild”

  • GeoPlatform facets source is directly from the metadata itself, and will require improvement to make more user friendly to simplify the lists and evaluate what additional facets should be turned on.

  • Learn from user patterns and stakeholder feedback what additional popular user patterns on the site are desired.

  • Improve search signals as well as weighting records by metadata quality facts and ranking.

  • Improve ways cross-tag filtering interacts when clicking from the details page back to search.

What data is accessible from GeoPlatform.gov?

A majority of the metadata records that are harvested in GeoPlatform.gov provide references to either web pages with links to resources or direct links to resources in various downloadable products (GeoJSON, Esri Shapefile, File GDB (Individual Layers), ZIP Files, ) and web service (Esri MapServer, Esri Feature Server, and OGC WMS, WFS, and WCS) forms.

What data is generated on GeoPlatform.gov?

When National Geospatial Data Asset (NGDAs) provide links via the full geospatial metadata file in ISO-19139 are provided to direct resources in non-proprietary formats over HTTP/HTTPS to Vector data files, GeoPlatform.gov generates additional outputs (and is maintained as changes are detected) in additional open standards forms such as GeoJSON <100MB, ESRI Shapefile <2GB, OGC WMS, OGC WFS, MapBox Vector Tile Services, and Raster tile Services.

This latter capability is developed in Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial and is a demonstration of both capability which other Federal Organizations can use or even use in the hosted GeoPlatform.gov cloud hosting environment to generate own products for areas where GeoPlatf orm.gov is not generating such products.

These GeoPlatform generated products and services are highlighted with the GeoPlatform logo ## What are the visualization capabilities on GeoPlatform.gov?

GeoPlatform.gov provides quick previews of GeoPlatform.gov generated Map Box Vector Tiles and Raster Tiles with limited stylization which as zoomed in, generates more tiles on-demand using an innovative Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial Serverless Tile Generation capability - which can be made available for Federal Organizations can use or even use in the hosted GeoPlatform.gov cloud hosting environment to generate additional stylized or own views.

Additionally, GeoPlatform.gov provides a Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial Viewer to saved “mash-ups”. Currently, this is showcasing the National Geospatial Data Asset (NGDAs) and other Federal Geospatial data services, however, this feature can be explored to provide additional mash-up views by NGDA, popular communities, events, etc.

The previous concept of the “Map Gallery” and sharing user-created views has been deprecated due to low participation in interest and a growth in other non-GeoPlatform.gov solutions that have become popular after the original GeoPlatform.gov “Map Gallery” launched.

What is the purpose of the “App/Demos” page on GeoPlatform.gov?

This is currently in beta and is a limited placeholder to show a few features, yet over time, with currently more than 50 demonstrations, there is a dualistic goal, focused on the FAIR data principles, to demonstrate data asset exploration to data users and technical capabilities to developers with interest in various integrations.

For the former, there will be an emphasis on gathering feedback of where “one-click” integrations would simplify access and interoperability in popular end-user applications, toolsets, and environments. These “open-in” and “save as” concepts will expedite ways to click on and open in or convert formats to make for easier use in tools the community has adopted or are adopting.

For the latter, these demonstrations will focus on those with technical interest in re-usable FOSS4G component interest in Metadata Catalogs, Cloud Serverless Functions, DevOps, Various FOSS4G stacks (TileGarden, GeoNetwork, GeoServer, GDAL, OGR2OGR, OGC Standards (WMS, WFS, WCS, GeoJSON, GeoPackage, more) and various service Types (Vector Tiles, Raster Tiles, WMTS), and future advances on common cloud-based toolsets to promote sharing developer community capabilities and solutions for re-use.

Stay tuned to this section, as it will grow into a series of visualization, service integration, workbench tools, application exposure, and additional capabilities to be explored for developer use.

What is the GeoPlatform.gov “Communities” section?

Communities are currently setup as they have been for over 5 years. The communities have an emphasis on bringing awareness to efforts on specific areas, themes, and groups working on common geospatial challenges, products, and services.

Future efforts will look to simplify the features to simply helping advise communities on metadata and data product and services statistics, areas for improvement, and provide additional reports, notifications, and dashboards to help the communities steward the advancement and maturity of the communities metadata and data product and services.