U.S. Geoscience Information Network: Data Sharing for the Geosciences

usgin“The U.S. Geoscience Information Network (GIN) is a system of state and federal geological survey online data providers and user applications linked together by a collection of shared web services and interchange formats for the purpose of finding, accessing, and using geoscientific information.

“The objective of the GIN project is to develop standardized services to make data resources of the state and federal geological surveys accessible online in a distributed network using a few standards and protocols, and to work with data providers to implement these services. The network is open to all providers and users. We hope it will become a core component of the emerging cyberinfrastructure for the Earth sciences.

“Key components of this network include:

  1. Catalog systems for data discovery
  2. Service definitions that define interfaces for searching catalogs and accessing resources;
  3. Shared interchange formats to encode information for transmission (e.g. various XML markup languages);
  4. Data providers that publish information using standardized services defined by the network; and
  5. Client applications enabled to utilize information resources provided by the network.

“GIN will integrate and utilize catalog resources that currently exist or are in development. We are working closely with the USGS National Geologic Map Database, which has an existing map catalog, and with the USGS National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation project, which is developing a metadata catalog for geoscience information resource discovery. The GEON catalog is another existing catalog resource we hope to integrate. Existing data formats such as GeoSciML, ChemML, and Open Geospatial Consortium sensor, observation and measurement MLs will provide the necessary interchange formats. Client application development will be fostered by collaboration with industry partners such as ESRI and Microsoft.

“About $625,000 in funding has been received from NSF under the INTEROP initiative to start building the data network. This project will focus on the service definitions (component 3 in the list above) and on assisting data providers to implement the services and bring content online. This NSF interoperability project will be managed by the Arizona Geological Survey on behalf of the Association of American State Geologists (AASG) in partnership with the USGS. In addition to GEON, the Earthchem (www.earthchem.org) network is an active partner. OneGeology, a consortium of 80 nations that is building a global digital geologic map, and GIN are working closely to develop a shared network architecture, as a global standard among geological surveys that could spread across the entire field.”

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