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I am done with File->Open

Beau Legeer

The initial step to almost any geospatial workflow is getting data into your exploitation tool of choice. For years this step was accomplished by using the “File” menu on an application and choosing the “Open”option. Over the years, open toolbar icons appeared and drag and drop was supported. All of these “Open” options are almost always preceded with an additional workflow of finding the data needed over the area of interest. This is often a time-consuming workflow that involves searching online catalogs, downloading large datasets and often correcting and calibrating data. In the age of the cloud, these time consuming  workflows can and must improve.

I want File->Open and these time consuming workflows to simply fall into the lexicon of the great storytellers who talk about times gone by. Today the workflow must evolve to one that starts with a location, is powered by search and simply presents the most relevant and available data. In this world File->Open is replaced by a map and that map provides the location for search queries to online data sources. Data providers support this effort through catalog interfaces that allow for searching on their holdings with simply a geographic bounding box or with inputs on the most complex metadata items.  Multiple providers can be searched and their results combined to form the basis of a solution that uses multiple data sources to derive a more informed answer to the problem at hand.

This is an ambitious idea but one where the pieces are already in place. Data catalogs are available from commercial and government data sources today. Desktop and online exploitation services are ready to consume this data sources today. It all just needs to come together. What can we do to take the next step?

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