March 22, 2010
Data Made Discoverable with GeoIQ
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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Data Made Discoverable with GeoIQ
By Susan Smith
In a world where there are not enough geospatial or technical professionals available to create and analyze geospatial and other types of data, it appears that easy-to-use geospatial tools are taking over.
A recent webcast about FortiusOne's GeoIQ platform outlined that product's intuitive data management, analysis and visualization capabilities, as well as new geoenabled functionality. Delivered as an appliance, hosted appliance or in the cloud, GeoIQ is an enterprise-level visual intelligence product for commercial and government users. It is similar to the free and public version of FortiusOne technology, GeoCommons Community, that allows users to organize, and share data and maps. GeoIQ takes it one step further with advanced data analysis capabilities, security and access controls. The new capabilities can access non-geospatial data from spreadsheets and databases and transform it
into georeferenced data for collaborative mapping.
FortiusOne tracked earthquake damage from the
recent earthquake in Haiti
According to press materials, GeoIQ for Enterprise, Government and Small Business includes software with complete data management, visualization and analysis capabilities, and over 10,000 open source data sets, with GeoIQ Analytics, preinstalled and configured. As part of GeoIQ, GeoIQ Finder is a web-based, geospatial data warehouse that allows an organization to share and utilize both its own large volume of business data as well as over 17,000 public databases available through
GeoCommons. GeoIQ Maker allows users to make their own maps, providing applications for analysis, visualization and correlation.
Sean Gorman, CEO and founder of FortiusOne, discussed how important it was for public domain data to be easily available in a variety of formats, plus metadata information describing the data, in addition, having the ability to do georeporting from out in the field. More importantly, it is critical to have that information mapped and into the system, and to be able to work with existing data, map it, visualize it and mash it up with other datasets in the system.
“While there is a lot of information out there that has a geographic reference to it, a street address, the name of a county, zip code, administrative unit, etc. often that information doesn't have a geometry attached to it, no a lat long for a street address, there is not a boundary for a zip code, county or state or province,” Gorman pointed out. “So I want to take the data I have in a tabular format and join it to that geographic geometry, so that I have that place on a map and can do interesting things with it. We have a set of tools both as APIs and guided user interfaces for non-technical users to get their tabular information into the system, get it geoenabled,
so then they can map it and analyze it through our visualization tools and make schematic maps, do filtering, querying on it.
“I can animate it temporally, I can run correlations with other data sets, I can run aggregation routines. Then once I've created a map or analysis to answer the question I can push that out to collaborate with other folks, so they can pull it into their workflow, and go drop that map into my blog, my wiki, my website, or drop it into SharePoint and make that available for collaboration and have a discussion around the map.”
Making it possible for non-technical users to do a simple workflow is a priority for FortiusOne. Gorman said they saw that there was a missing piece, in that there wasn't the ability for a non-technical person to create their own map if they weren't a web developer or GIS technician or professional. ESRI and MapInfo are great for professionals who can create analyses, Gorman said. On the Google side of things, non-technical users can view data, but not create their own maps from their own data or different data sets from others. GeoIQ can bridge that gap.
GeoIQ runs from a web browser without requiring plug-ins or client software. It can also work with real time data feeds. Real time data feeds can be brought in in a variety of formats. The product has rich tools for visualizing and tools to integrate both internal and external data. Adapters are in place in geodatabases such as MySQL, PostGres and Oracle to pull the information in and make it easily visualized and queryable by non-technical users.
“There is a large amount of money already spent on GIS and people wonder, how can I get those capabilities and data out so more people can access the data? They can look at data and add their own data on top of it, create their own maps with data that comes from the GIS department, so they can make information actionable,” said Gorman.
GeoIQ platform enables these capabilities and also supports non-traditional data formats as well. An example, data from sensors that provides real time feed such as environmental sensors, traffic sensors, air quality measurement, and seismic activity.
FortiusOne has done a lot of work in Haiti recently, where they have taken a variety of sensors on the ground and aggregated the data from them, then sent it out to non-technical users so they can visualize and overlay their own data on top of it.
In locations such as Haiti and Afghanistan, a lot of data comes from mobile devices which can give lat long, and other geographical location information. GeoIQ can also work with feeds from the web, and web services such as Twitter and Flickr, and geoenable them, then plot all the information onto a map and run an analysis.
There is also institutional data from data warehouses and databases that employ adapters to pull that information in.
“All that data is pulled in, normalized and indexed so it can be discovered and harvested by our application and other third party applications,” said Gorman. “Then we also provide that information back out in a variety of usable formats that can be consumed by end users, so that might come out as a map or a spinning globe like Google Earth or Microsoft Bing or have the information available on top of those maps. The format may be a report or a GeoPDF or as a different accessible geodata format. They may go in as a sensor and come back out as a shapefile, go in as a mobile phone report and comes out as a spreadsheet. We have these things in a variety of formats so
users can plug into a lot of existing workflows and can leverage that information dynamically.”
In particular, intelligence communities such as GEOINT have been using GeoIQ extensively. An example is in Afghanistan, where these tools are available to non-technical users who are in an environment where they need to be able to aggregate data quickly and disseminate it quickly. These users can pull in satellite imagery to serve up through Google Fusion Server, or through some of the tile caches that FortiusOne runs, and are able to tile that imagery and make it available. They also have the ability to pull in data from a variety of sources in the field or on the ground.
FortiusOne received a lot of feedback from users in locations such as Afghanistan where problems bubble up very quickly or problems are faced by many organizations within the government. Some of these are specific to Afghanistan and some of them are broadly applicable. “One of the biggest challenges was understanding that intelligence beyond enemy activity is lacking, especially for the socio-cultural landscape, so it's important to address the human terrain problem and how we understand the socio-cultural dimension on the ground,” said Gorman. “Oftentimes the intelligence officers are too understaffed to gather and digest critical information and this is
something that is universal across the government. There are not enough GIS professionals to meet the demand in the market. How can we get more people to participate?”
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