Government is a great sector in which to use geospatial technology to solve problems at scale. This geospatial technology typically has varying degrees of quality and cost as you would expect in any market. Combine the two with the fact that the ecosystem of systems, large and small, is very diverse, creating varying challenges. With this in mind, governments are now realizing how their decisions impact their future capabilities. In this talk, we will discuss GeoPackage, an OGC encoding standard and the challenges it was created to solve.
We were encountering a problem with how data was being created, disseminated, and used. With the rise of mobile computing devices raster images in various native formats were being disseminated to a wider audience to use and visualize information. These raster images were typically enormous and uncompressed in some cases and compressed but painfully slow in other cases. Computing resource availability varied across computing environments. Some end users were converting these large raster images to more friendly or optimized formats to do their daily jobs. This leads to massive data reprocessing efforts across many different areas, all of which are mostly avoidable if the source would simply produce relevant, fast-performing data in a format that satisfies the broadest audience.
Many vendors have tried to solve this problem with their own custom or proprietary solutions. Full stack vendor solutions come with hefty price tags in the form of licenses, support contracts, or sometimes both. These solutions can and often do solve the immediate problem however they have side effects that reach far beyond the immediate. Vendor-specific technology islands therefore appear, beholden to a certain proprietary implementation simply because it would be too expensive or too involved to do otherwise. Proprietary data created for one system did not necessarily work in another system. Tools needed to be created, re-created, or modified to handle formats that did not work on their target platform.
Data interoperability between geospatial groups is the first casualty. “Glue” code is then created to bridge the gap between the offending incompatible data and the desired data format of the new end-user. Government entities are quickly realizing that this makes no sense. Extra processing causes bottlenecks in downstream workflows and can quickly cause untenable requirements in areas like disaster recovery. Incompatibility in data makes it even harder to share crucial information between government organizations and non-government organizations alike.
It is with these types of open standards that governments can maintain the control of their data creation and management. GeoPackage was created to free data from the constrictions of proprietary formats and is already paying dividends to government groups. Current GeoPackage development tools will be discussed as well as how early adopters are leveraging this new data specification and subsequent tools to push geospatial products to the end user.