Discovery of Geospatial Resources: Methodologies, Technologies, and Emergent Applications

Discovery of Geospatial Resources: Methodologies, Technologies, and Emergent Applications

Laura Díaz (University Jaume I of Castellón, Spain), Carlos Granell (University Jaume I of Castellón, Spain) and Joaquín Huerta (University Jaume I of Castellón, Spain)
Indexed In: SCOPUS
Release Date: April, 2012|Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 335
ISBN13: 9781466609457|ISBN10: 1466609451|EISBN13: 9781466609464|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0945-7


Information Systems built using standard-based distributed services have become the default computing paradigm adopted by the geospatial community to build Geospatial Information Infrastructures. There are many aspects to consider in order to improve the discovery of geospatial resources. The efficiency of discovery is determinant to deploy successful applications in distributed environments where standard-based components allow users to share and reuse resources more effectively.

Discovery of Geospatial Resources: Methodologies, Technologies, and Emergent Applications aims to provide relevant theoretical frameworks and the latest empirical research finding. This reference is written for professionals who want to improve the understanding of geospatial discovery methodologies and technologies, as well as techniques to design and deploy geospatial resources in Information Infrastructures.

Topics Covered

The many academic areas covered in this publication include, but are not limited to:

  • Automatic Extraction of Metadata
  • Automatic Registration and Publication of Geospatial Resources
  • Classifications and Indexing of Geospatial Resources
  • Geospatial Information Infrastructure
  • Geospatial Metadata for Data and Services
  • Geospatial Web Service Registry and Discovery
  • Query Languages
  • Semantics, Formats, Tagging for Geospatial Resources Discovery
  • User Interfaces for Geospatial Resources Discovery

Reviews and Testimonials

This five-volume set is most impressive, not only for the efforts that went into its development, but also for its exceptional quality, organization, and value to a wide variety of excellent addition to nearly any library.

– Reference & User Services Quarterly, 45 (3)

This title would be of interest to librarians pursuing such tasks as text and data mining [...] "but best suited for practitioners in the geospatial community who will value the editors' gathering of straightforward, scientific profiles of attempts to make their field more efficient."

– Henrietta Thornton-Verma, Library Journal

I applaud the editors of this book for bringing together a wide spectrum of perspectives and possible methods. Which methods will win out? I believe the normal Darwinian shakeout will leave standing those which are either simplest (see Ockham's razor) and/or best integrated in current scientific and commercial workflows. It will be interesting to look back at this volume in a decade and judge for ourselves if this has been the case.

– Michael Gould, Esri, USA and Universitat Jaume i, Spain

Table of Contents and List of Contributors

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Distributed Geospatial applications, built using standards-based services, are currently deployed on top of Geospatial Information Infrastructures. This has increased the range of distributed geospatial content, services, and applications publicly available in Internet. Although standardization of services and components increases interoperability, the distribution of resources makes their discovery a complex task. There are many aspects to be considered in order to improve the discovery of geospatial resources. For instance, resource descriptions are a crucial aspect: content providers may choose to provide standard metadata elements, annotations, simple user tags, and also choose which formats to use to represent these descriptions. Other aspects such as where to store these descriptions, in terms of using catalogues services, registries or other distributed storage, and when to generate them, may also influence the discovery process. Another aspect to consider is the search engine used to query. In distributed environments, where standards-based components allow resource reusability, the efficiency of discovery often determines the success of application deployment. Therefore, continued investigation into discovery methodologies, technologies, and innovative applications is needed.

This book aims to provide relevant theoretical frameworks and the latest empirical research findings in the field of geospatial resources discovery.  The contributors are scientists and professionals, experts in the field, who describe their work and proposed solutions to improve the understanding of geospatial discovery methodology and technology. The following chapters provide a comprehensive overview of common problems and solutions. The reader will find novel proposals for generating resource descriptions, as well as mechanisms to register and search for geospatial resources.  The proposed solutions describe techniques to design novel Geospatial Information Infrastructures to improve the interoperability and the visibility of available resources in order to maximize their reusability.

The book is organized in three sections, each composed of works addressing a distinct challenge explicitly exposed in the title of the book. Section 1 refers to Discovery Methodologies, Section 2 treats Discovery Technologies, and Section 3 deals with Emergent Applications.


Improving the discovery of geospatial resources involves designing and assessing discovery strategies in the realm of the application domain. As the quantity and variety of geospatial resources may vary in different domains and scenarios, capturing domain knowledge, and metadata descriptions becomes essential for efficient discovery. Geospatial resources must be provided with metadata descriptions that are up-to-date and coherent with the characteristics of the resource, to enable efficient discovery. Chapters 1-5 explore distinct methodologies for discovery of geospatial resources related to specific application domains, as well as methodologies to generate metadata descriptions to ensure consistency over time and to facilitate the discovery of geospatial resources.

Chapter 1: Describing and Selecting Collections of Georeferenced Media Items in Peer-to-Peer Information Retrieval Systems

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) systems consist of networks of distributed computers that can act as both clients and servers. Enabling information retrieval of geo-referenced media resources in P2P systems depends highly on the indexing mechanisms and methodologies to perform geospatial queries. Chapter 1, authored by Daniel Blank and Andrea Henrich, recognizes P2P technology as an important enabler for the discovery of geo-referenced media content over distributed peers. In particular, this chapter outlines different P2P approaches for the administration of media content. It analyses different indexing and selection techniques to perform geospatial queries based on the k nearest neighbour over P2P networks, that is, discovering the k closest media resources according to a given location. It demonstrates how geospatial-based searches can be applied in geo-referenced images distributed over multiple peers.

Chapter 2: An Assessment of Several Taxonomies of Volunteered Geographic Information

Regarding the generation of resource descriptions, Antony K Cooper, Serena Coetzee, and Derrick G Kourie describe, in Chapter 2, a study which aims to assess several taxonomies related to the concept of user-generated content in general and Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) in particular. In line with the current trend of leveraging social networks and crowdsourcing platforms, and from the approach of using volunteered contribution of resources by regular citizens, the authors pose the question whether the examined taxonomies can accurately and suitably identify VGI resources. The authors assess five taxonomies from the literature, both subjectively and using formal concept analysis to determine their discrimination adequacy. This chapter includes a discussion on how these taxonomies may eventually facilitate the discovery and integration of VGI resources.

Chapter 3: New Discovery Methodologies in GIS: Improving the Information Retrieval Process

Chapter 3, written by Nieves Brisaboa, Miguel Luaces, and Diego Seco, provides a thorough review of existing methodologies and techniques in the field of geospatial information retrieval. Based on the current state of the art, the authors propose a system architecture for improving this retrieval. Finally, the work presented in this chapter describes in detail an index construction workflow and the design of processing services to assess queries and user interfaces.

Chapter 4: Managing Schema Evolution in a Federated Spatial Database System

Chapter 4, authored by Xiaoying Wu et al., presents a framework to effectively manage the schema evolution in federated spatial database systems, which integrate multiple spatial data sources in a distributed fashion. Such spatial data systems are an extension of traditional databases but which include spatial descriptions and relationships between stored entities. In particular, the chapter addresses the issue of ensuring schema consistency by propagating schema changes across multiple databases. This propagation methodology automatically updates the corresponding spatial views and queries over a federated environment, in order to provide a unified data access and query mechanism. The authors demonstrate this technology in a so-called Shared Land Information System.

Chapter 5: Automatic Metadata Generation for Geospatial Resource Discovery

Metadata descriptions form one of the pillars of current generation of Spatial Data Infrastructures to provide efficient discovery. The need for the creation of metadata has been identified as an important key to overcome the current lack of metadata available in SDI. Chapter 5, authored by Miguel Angel Manso and Arturo Beltran, highlights the importance of metadata for enabling interoperability and discovery of geospatial resources. It analyzes the process of metadata generation from different points of view.  This work provides several examples of metadata generation tools applied to diverse types and formats of geospatial resources.

From another perspective, beyond theory and methodological frameworks, technology enablers provide the pragmatic approach to address open issues in the field of geospatial discovery. This section describes trends in technological progress within the geospatial resources discovery domain. Current technological developments in the field of geospatial discovery are focused on semantic technologies, which are central to providing semantic interoperability among geospatial resources. These resources are generally described or annotated by geospatial vocabularies or ontologies. The use of geospatial ontologies and knowledge poses important challenges to achieving geospatial reasoning among related resources for geospatial discovery.
On the other hand, social networks and volunteered geographic information are gaining attention among geospatial users. Contrasting the top-down architecture of SDI, mainstream IT systems, and, in particular, the emerging social network services allow active user participation and are becoming a massive source of dynamic geospatial resources. These emerging technologies provide new paradigms in content provision as well as in semantic annotation of resources. Therefore, in order to enrich current SDI with social information these new technologies must be taken into account. Chapters 6-10 discuss architectures, annotation methods, and applications of semantic discovery of geospatial resources, both in SDI as well as over social network services and VGI content.

Chapter 6: Discovering Geosensor Data By Means of an Event Abstraction Layer

Environmental monitoring systems are essential to provide geospatial information services that ensure public safety in areas commonly affected by natural disasters. With the increasing number of sensor networks being deployed, these systems address the challenge of handling the continuous streaming of sensor data. In Chapter 6, Alejandro Llaves and Thomas Everding describe how event processing of geosensor data can be helpful for discovery of information over real-time stream flows. Semantic technologies are used to link event patterns, acting as data filters, to domain knowledge representations of reality. This approach provides an event abstraction layer on top of sensor web services with the goal of improving environmental change detection methods.

Chapter 7: Semantic Enrichment for Geospatial Information in a Tourism Recommender System

Joan De la Flor et al., in Chapter 7, present a novel application called SIGTUR/E-Destination. This application develops a technology to enable a recommender system based on semantically enriched geospatial information. It aims to assist the travel sector with sustainable management of complex tourist destinations. The tourism recommender system relies on artificial intelligence planners. In order to improve the accuracy in discovery criteria and filtering of spatial information, the system leverages tourism domain ontologies, content-based and collaborative techniques with the goal of improving user satisfaction in system recommendations.

Chapter 8: Semantic Annotation of Geospatial RESTful Services Using External Resources

RESTful services have entered prominently into the information system panorama, competing with more traditional web services thanks to their relative simplicity in modeling communications among participants and their natural suitability for the web. To overcome the current lack of machine-readable descriptions for RESTful services, Victor Saquicela, Luis Vilches-Sánchez, and Óscar Corcho, in Chapter 8, present an approach to automate the semantic annotation of geospatial RESTful services using geospatial taxonomies which are publicly available. The chapter describes a heuristic-based approach to integrate cross-domain ontologies together with other external resources to disambiguate the semantic meaning of the input and output parameters of geospatial RESTful services.

Chapter 9: Methodologies for Augmented Discovery of Geospatial Resources

Both information technology and geoscience are dynamic disciplines, which undergo continuous change. Technology enablers must be designed to accommodate existing infrastructures to future changes. Among others, semantic interoperability and the integration of web 2.0 resources present current challenges. Chapter 9, authored by Mattia Santoro et al., describes a solution based on a Discovery Augmentation Methodology to enhancing geospatial information discovery capabilities. The methodology is realized in the design and development of components which, when deployed in Geographic Information Infrastructures (GII), address present and future needs.

Chapter 10: Data Mining Location-Based Social Networks for Geospatial Discovery

In Chapter 10, Edward Pultar proposes an approach for data mining of location-based social networks. The author describes how to extract descriptions from the social profiles based on data mining techniques to identify distinct profile groups in social networks according to their space, time, and activities, in order to discover information about a place. As a result, this approach returns a list of automatically-generated keywords to describe the place based on local resident input. For demonstration purposes, the author applies web crawling techniques to the CouchSurfing social network to discover profiles centred on four different geographical areas around the world.


Technological and scientific progress provides new tools but also generates new use cases to address. The geospatial domain is a horizontal domain that is gaining momentum in many disciplines. Therefore, from the geospatial domain perspective, recent trends lead to more distributed and dynamic systems and multidisciplinary use cases that pose complex challenges. Section 3 illustrates how geospatial technologies and methodologies can be applied in domains beyond more traditional domains such as the environment. Chapters 11-13 provide emerging applications in varied domains such as spatial applications in epidemiological surveillance, urban planning, and sustainability in touristic scenarios, and web-based user interfaces for geospatial resources discovery within SDI.

Chapter 11: Distributed Geospatial Data Management for Entomological and Epidemiological Studies

Hugo Martins and Jorge Rocha, in Chapter 11, apply geospatial techniques to the context of epidemiological surveillance to help health professionals to better understand spatio-temporal disease patterns. In particular, the authors focus on the study of Bluetongue (BT), an infectious disease of domestic and wild ruminants, to determine its geographical expansion in conjunction with entomological surveillance programs. The authors describe a web-based application based on open-source geospatial components deployed on a thematic SDI node devoted to manage, query, and visualize entomological data.

Chapter 12: Analysis of Tourist Behavior Based on the Tracking Data Collected by GPS

In Chapter 12, Oriol Bernadó et al. analyse mobility patterns in touristic areas to help urban planners in designing plans and actions to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of tourism activities. The authors describe a web application based on open source components and technologies. This application aims to track pedestrians via GPS devices to identify mobility patterns that would serve as inputs for urban planning in touristic areas.

Chapter 13: User-Friendly Geoportal Interfaces for Geospatial Resource Discovery

In Chapter 13, Victor Pascual presents an assessment of the development of an operational Catalogue Service and its user interface. This study reflects the design criteria followed during a decade to develop a fully operational catalogue. The study reflects the recent evolution of SDI and the trends regarding geospatial resources description and discovery. The author describes how this functionality has to be provided to users by means of useful and friendly interfaces that are capable of hiding complexity.


This book compiles works, which are split into three areas—methodologies, technologies, and emergent applications—, to address discovery issues in the field of geospatial information infrastructures. Our goal has been to offer professionals and researchers a general overview of geospatial resource discovery, and to provide documentation to be used for advanced courses as supplemental material on advances in GIS, spatial data infrastructures, and discovery techniques of geospatial resources in distributed and web environments.

Findings may be applied to various disciplines such as information and communication sciences, environmental management, urban planning, sociology, and disaster management. Hopefully, the compiled work contributes to better insight and to support decision-makers concerned with the discovery and management of geospatial information.

Laura Díaz
Universitat Jaume I de Castellón, Spain

Carlos Granell
Universitat Jaume I de Castellón, Spain

Joaquín Huerta
Universitat Jaume I de Castellón, Spain

Author(s)/Editor(s) Biography

Laura Díaz graduated in Computer Engineering (2000) from the Universitat de València and obtained her MSc in Intelligent Systems (2008) and the doctoral degree in Geospatial Science (2010) from Universitat Jaume I of Castellón, where she is currently a Research Associate. She has participated in R&D projects at the Institute of Robotics at the Universitat de València and GIS companies such as Geodan (The Netherlands) and Iver TI (Spain). Furthermore, she participated in research stages at Institute of GeoInformatics (University of Münster) and Institute of Environment and Sustainability (Joint Research Centre). Her main research interests are in the field of geospatial information infrastructures and user generated content, in particular she investigates novel approaches for improving geospatial content integration and publication, distributed geoprocessing, and service interoperability.
Carlos Granell is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute of New Imaging Technologies, Universitat Jaume I (Spain), where he graduated in Computer Engineering (2000) and received his doctorate in Computer Science (2006). His lines of research are centered on Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI), interoperability, geoprocessing services, workflow, and the composition and reuse of geographic services. He has taken part in several public funded research projects, both at national and European level. He has carried out research stages at SINTEF (Norway), at the Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation of the University of Twente (The Netherlands), and the University of Nottingham (UK).
Joaquín Huerta is an Associate Professor in the Department of Information Systems at UJI, where he teaches GIS and Internet Technologies. He holds a Bachelor in Computer Science, a Master in Computer Science, and a Master in CAD/CAM from Politechnical University of Valencia. He also holds a PhD in Computer Science from Jaume I University. His current research interest are geospatial technologies, mobile and internet technologies, and 3D GIS. He is Director of the Master in Geospatial Technologies funded by Erasmus Mundus program and Director of the PhD Program on Integration of Geospatial Information. He is leading and has led several important research projects including EU projects as EUROGEOSS (FP7) and eSDI-NET+ (FP6), and Spanish projects, such as “España Virtual” funded by Cenit Programme . In addition to academic activities, Dr. Huerta is founding board member of an Internet service provider and, thus, possesses considerable business experience as well as experience in systems integration


Editorial Board

  • Anders Friis-Christensen, National Survey and Cadastre, Denmark
  • Cristiano Fugazza, European Commission – Joint Research Centre, Italy
  • Michael Gould, Esri, USA
  • Gobe Hobona, University of Nottingham, UK
  • Werner Kunh, University of Muenster, Germany
  • Miguel Ángel Manso, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain
  • Paolo Mazzetti, National Research Council of Italy, Italy
  • Javier Nogueras, University of Zaragoza, Spain
  • Victor Pascual, IDEC, Spain
  • Sven Schade, European Commission – Joint Research Centre, Italy
  • Laura Spinsanti, European Commission – Joint Research Centre, Italy