Alignment needed to new Congressional Policy on Geospatial Data Access

Under the Geospatial Data Act of 2018, OMB Circular A-16, and Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Guidance, geoplatform.gov is by law the distribution and enablement point for products, services, and applications of Government Geospatial Data. The Federal Geographic Data Committee’s GeoPlatform was developed by the member agencies of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) through collaboration with partners and stakeholders. The target audience for the GeoPlatform includes federal agencies, state, local, and tribal governments, private sector, academia, and the general public.  

With the implementation of the 2018 Geospatial Data Policy Act , it  codifies the committees, processes, and tools used to develop, drive, and manage the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), which is then available through the GeoPlatform.  The GeoPlatform is a a clear strategic national resource. It supports the US Administration’s Open Government, Open Data and Digital Government strategies to enhance transparency, collaboration and participation. The GeoPlatform exists to help federal and some local government agencies meet their mission needs. This includes publishing data and maps to the public.

What we did for Geoplatform.gov

Geoplatform.gov required solutions to advance the discovery, accessibility, and use of geospatial data assets to advance science, planning, emergence response, and multiple other communities of use. Xentity was awarded the Development and Operations for geoplatform.gov including supply chain curation, data processing, product generations, application development, serverless service development, and Cloud architecture. Tasks include Roadmap, Architecture, Front-End Web Development, Back-End Service Development, Service and Data Integration, Specialized Database Management, Cloud Architecture, IT Operations, Security Coordination, Service Des, and Geospatial Data SME support.

In 2020, we transitioned the geoplatform.gov architecture, development, and operations in 3-days. Then, in 12 months, we went to a new UI and application design, and a new data cache model using AWS serverless data pipelining from authoritative data sources aligned to Federal policy. We developed a new product generation of Federal data assets in open-standard web services, tile services, and data packages on change detection from the supply chain.

GeoPlatform.gov improves geospatial data discovery, access, and quality for harvested datasets: 

  • Harvests Data.gov for quality geospatial datasets to include in the GeoPlatform.gov catalog
  • Integrates FGDC NGDA portfolio tracking to improve coordination
  • Enhances discovery in-the-wild with search engine optimization (SEO) tagging
  • Links existing data resources with one-click downloads or open-in select applications
  • Provides FAIR Insights Advisor reviews to assist and guide data suppliers and metadata creators
  • Monthly release notes are accessible with updates on new features, user experience, new data/metadata flows, and hardening/security compliance.

Making Metadata useful to drive Data Derivative generation automated

Geoplatform generates value-add derivatives for harvested NGDAs data sources: Nightly, GeoPlatform.gov ingests available NGDA and key Federal feature data into a “feature registry”. This automatically generates derivatives – e.g. Product (SHP, KML, GeoPackage, GeoJSON); Tiles (Vector Tiles, Raster Tiles); Service (OGC WMS, WFS); Metadata Quality via FAIR Insights Advisor].  For raster data collections, we have created SpatioTemporal Asset Catalogs and web services to allow for rapid discovery and access. For vector collections, products and services are being cataloged, product and service generation has been automated, and geospatial metadata and data analytics have been created to create insights for suppliers on how to improve data and metadata quality.

GeoPlatform.gov team works with data suppliers and metadata creators to increase FAIR data qualities:

At Xentity, our big hope is to make the data on this platform Findable, Accessible, Integratable, and Re-usable (FAIR) to help GeoPlatform succeed in its mission, while realizing cost savings and economies of scale. As the data progresses, and use increases, a shift to data quality techniques invoking collaboration techniques including automated quality scripts, incentivization, and gamification models. This means assisting suppliers in navigating the complex world of making data FAIR.

  • Assist on understanding FAIR Insights and supports the Knowledge Base for help and guidance
  • Improve FAIR Insights and knowledge based on feedback and trends in data quality
  • Help navigate metadata challenges with expert support – e.g. ISO, CSDGM, DCAT, DCAT2, etc.
  • Assist with metadata publishing to Data.gov and into GeoPlatform.gov
  • Assist Agency Esri ArcGIS Online (AGOL) managers with implementing the new ‘one-time’ Hub template setup to publish ISO metadata embedded in DCAT.
  • Agencies worked with: USDA, DoC, USACE, DoEd, DOE, HHS, DHS, DOI, DoJ, DoS, Treas, DOT, and GSA.
  • Supports innovative use and tools by developers on FOSS4G concepts employed on GeoPlatform. For example, GeoPlatform collaborated with the WhiteHouse and 18F on the Environmental Justice 40 on the Climate/Economic Screening Toolhttps://screeningtool.geoplatform.gov/ 

The Technology is open and integrateable

We developed a new discovery front-end in FOSS4G geo open-source technologies (GeoNetwork, TerriaJS, TileGarden). We developed new ways to harvest AGOL data working with ESRI, DOI, USFS and data.gov. We developed multiple geospatial applications in mapping, discovery, and APIs in AGOL, Survey123, Terria, GeoNode, and Custom Model-View-Controller (MVC) React JavaScript (JS) on top of GeoNetwork. We are developing knowledge graph data services for supporting cross-federal dataset querying. We developed new open Government SSO authentication with keycloak and login.gov integrating with AGOL that allows geoplatfom.gov to focus on authorization of roles, groups instead, and providing supplier feedback on metadata insights.

The road ahead

We are all about creating better iterations with every new version of a product. You know, like with new versions of apps. Our hope is that the GeoPlatform ends up a better version of itself than it already is through our efforts.

  • More data In as a result of outreach and FAIR Insights improvements
  • Feeds into the GeoPlatform ArcGIS Online & Hub Communities – less clicks for Esri users
  • Search improvements (geographic extents, search weighting, improved facets)
  • Additional OGC OpenAPI support
  • Adding STAC (SpatioTemporal Asset Catalog) Collection support and discovery 
  • Improved statistics on data use, discovery, and access

Concept in Work: Semantic Feature Generation

The GeoPlatform.gov feature registry will feed into the semantic web to support such integrations as: schema.org tagging, provide to Data Commons, support feature sources discovery in-the-wild, support data science ontological extension and add-ons, allow feature change subscription, support for major consumers and map vendors to subscribe to feature changes to allow for timely ingestion and updates from authoritative sources).