Clearinghouse Working Group Status, 1998
1. Participation and Coordination
Clearinghouse WG teleconferences heldThe agenda topics and notes of all available teleconferences are available online under the Participation topic at the Clearinghouse Home Page at: http://www.fgdc.gov/clearinghouse/participation/participation.html.
Clearinghouse Implementors Workshop HeldIn September, in coordination with the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) annual conference in Annapolis, Maryland, a day-long workshop was held to share developments and issues related to the implementation of Clearinghouse. Over 60 participants attended from local, state, and federal government and from the commercial and academic sectors. An online summary of the workshop including overheads in HTML form is available at:
Clearinghouse Working Group Email MembershipAt the close of 1998, there were over 400 registered email participants in the Clearinghouse Working Group list. This list, available as firstname.lastname@example.org, provides two-way communication about Clearinghouse topics, and is the primary means for technical dissemination of Clearinghouse information.
Clearinghouse Site Registry with over 100 member sitesIn the past year, the number of Clearinghouse Nodes (independent collections of indexed FGDC metadata) doubled from around 50 to 109. Increased activity was seen by non-US nodes who are building search services, such as Australia, that are compatible with the NSDI. All registered Clearinghouse Nodes that support the FGDC approach are simultaneously searchable through the supported HTML and Java Clearinghouse interfaces. Existing state, local, and regional Clearinghouses now represent an almost complete coverage of the US. An increasing number of federal participants are present in the Clearinghouse through agency or coordinated regional Clearinghouse Nodes. A current list of participating organizations can be found at: http://clearinghouse4.fgdc.gov/registry/clearinghouse_sites.html
OpenGIS and FGDC Collaboration ActivitiesThe FGDC was promoting three areas of development with the OpenGIS Consortium (OGC) this year. The first is an active membership, extended to several FGDC member agencies, on the OGC Technical Committee to add their experience and requirements to the process. The second is the participation of FGDC and member agencies NASA and NIMA in the development of a next-generation Clearinghouse services specification, known as Catalog Services, co-developed by leading GIS vendors. Close work between all parties will encourage the inclusion of relevant functionality for NSDI into GIS solutions, furthering and simplifying general participation in activities like Clearinghouse. The third area is the support of a Web Mapping Testbed to build upon the OpenMap prototype developed and demonstrated in 1997. This activity, to get underway fully in 1999 will allow a variety of vendors to offer and enhance web mapping (not GIS) functionality in a compatible framework to address relevant search and portrayal scenarios. An expected outcome of this work will be the start of specifications for standardizing web mapping that would enable generic clients and map servers to be built and operate across what are now vendor-specific and non-interoperable solutions.
Isite 2.01 and alternate solutionsBy the end of 1998, the Isite software, Version 2.01 was being used at over 100 sites around the world. To search one or more of these servers, one can connect to the EROS Data Center or Reston Clearinghouse Gateways at: http://www.compusult.nf.ca). Blue Angel Technologies offers a Z39.50 solution for metadata management for geospatial and other communities, compatible with Dublin Core and GILS activities with a suite of software known as MetaStar Suite. Their software allows the use of commercial-grade data search engines and crawlers such as Lycos and Fulcrum to exploit and manipulate metadata and exchange it using XML. For more information, see: http://www.blueangeltech.com .
3. Systems Enhancements and Investigations
Gateways to the ClearinghouseDuring 1998, the U.S. Geological Survey EROS Data Center and National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) office in Ft Worth Texas became hosts of the third and fourth official gateways to the Clearinghouse. Hosting duplicate gateways to the growing number of Clearinghouse servers, these sites provide a failover capability to preserve reliable access to searching the Clearinghouse -- even when the USGS networks are unavailable. Additional Gateways are anticipated on the west and east coasts within the coming months.