Thursday, 8 May 2008

1Spatial and Snowflake Conferences

In the past couple of weeks I managed to squeeze in the Snowflake GeoxChange conference in Edinburgh and the 1Spatial conference at Stansted. Both conferences turned out to be very good so chairman Peter Woodsford must be doing something right.

Interestingly the INSPIRE initiative featured heavily in both of them, the reason being that this European Spatial Data Infrastructure is an ideal driver for both companies. As public bodies across Europe will be mandated to catalogue and share vast amounts of spatial information in the near future, there will likely be the need to quantify data qualities so enable potential users to assess fitness for purpose (and at the very least not sue the provider); 1Spatial are positioning themselves nicely to provide the ability to do just that.

The company is actively involved in an OGC initiative to define data quality assurance measures for spatial metadata to enable data quality attributes to be reported consistently and its Radius Studio tool provides a means to profile spatial data to divine business rules, report conformance with them, and perform actions to improve data consistency. This looks like a nice niche that will enable data custodians to provide clearer descriptions of their data and assist potential users determine the extent to which it might meet their needs. I think that as practitioners get their head around this concept of spatial data quality auditing there is considerable scope for profiling and improving all those datasets that have come into digital existence in the last 15 years.

Snowflake's tools also look well set to support INSPIRE driven initiatives by enabling the encoding and decoding of spatial data packets in GML format. Given this government's preference for XML centric data exchange standards and even the emergence of Dutch legislation that goes as far as to enshrine GML into law (it's true but unfortunately for some strange reason the GeoXchange presentation that describes this is password protected); Snowflake's tools may have a bright future if they can plug into message backbones to enable the transport of spatial data within the new SDIs.

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