Web language for geology promotes data sharing
Access to consistent, reliable and local geology information is essential for understanding our planet and managing resources. Since this information is so important, there's growing global interest in sharing geology information across standard web service interfaces that are not controlled by any one organization or group. To meet this challenge efforts such as OneGeology, as well as national and state/provincial mapping agencies, are embracing OGC Web Map Services (WMS) and Web Feature Services (WFS) to ensure geology and mineral resource information is open and accessible to all.
WMS and WFS define open standards for retrieving maps and geographic features across the Web using platform-independent calls - and 116 countries are now participating in the OneGeology WMS/WFS network with over 40 WMS and 8 WFS deployed. There's even a profile of Geography Markup Language (GML) for WFS designed specifically to support geology called GeoSciML. A quick example of WMS/WFS/GeoSciML data sharing in Australia is shown above in Gaia. In the future, we'll likely see the use of WFS Transactions (WFS-T) and possibly geosynchronization to update geology data - making it possible for anyone to contribute to the infrastructure of earth information - regardless of underlying databases.
With growing global interest in sharing geology and mineral resources information - and with the recognition that one of the best ways to maintain this information is locally, closest to the people that know it - WFS and WMS like those coming online now are a key collaborative technology for representing the earth and its resources.