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Username: Percivall
Date/Time: Thu, October 19, 2000 at 2:30 PM GMT (Thu, October 19, 2000 at 10:30 AM EDT)
Browser: Netscape Communicator V4.72 using Macintosh PowerPC
Score: 5
Subject: Digital Earth comment on .geo



The NASA Digital Earth Office (DEO) supports the .geo proposal with one reservation.  The .geo TLD will provide simple access to geospatial data using the familiar coordinates of latitude and longitude - a goal supported by Digital Earth.  The DEO concern is that the ".geo Forum" to be established within SRI, may not reflect the wider needs of the geospatial community.  SRI should be the secretariat of the .geo Forum with a membership structure as described below.

By providing simple access to geospatial data, the .geo TLD will advance the geospatial community's progress in providing the value of geospatial data.  The geospatial community is vibrant and active with multiple coordinated organizations representing all sectors: commercial, government, not-for-profit; in the United States and worldwide.  A sample list of geospatial organizations:
- Digital Earth (
- Federal Geographic Data Committee (
- ISO Technical Committee 211 (
- OpenGIS Consortium (
- Committee for Earth Observation Satellites (
- Global Data Spatial Infrastructure (
- Joint Steering Group on Spatial Standardization (
(The listing of an organization in this message does not indicate endorsement of .geo by the organization, except for DEO.)

The geospatial community has multiple examples of success in interoperability of geospatial data based on standards.  The geospatial community has been lauded for its progress on metadata which is a basis for advancing the semantic web.  Recently, collaborations in the telecommunications industry have contacted several of the geospatial organizations in support of building the location based services infrastructure that would certainly use the .geo TLD.

The SRI proposal for the .geo TLD does little to ensure that .geo will build on the successes of the geospatial community.  A measure of a sponsor in ICANN's definition is its "accountability to the community it will serve".  SRI proposes "to form a new body within SRI, referred to as the .geo Forum, to provide explicit oversight of the new TLD." The SRI proposal further states, "SRI will be responsible for all management and support staff of the .geo Forum and for implementing a communication and marketing strategy for these activities."  This approach does not provide accountability to the geospatial community.

The .geo TLD schema offers an efficient approach to organizing any and all data related to the surface of the Earth.  However, unlike other TLDs where the namespace is limited only by the number of characters in the name extensions, the .geo namespace is limited by its schema and is therefore a scarce commodity.  Management of this public resource requires that the sponsoring organization be representative enough to take into account all users of the namespace.

DEO endorses the adoption of the .geo TLD with an organization of the .geo Forum which represents the geospatial community.  To form the initial .geo Forum, SRI should solicit nominations from the organizations listed above.  Upon calling the first meeting of the .geo Forum, SRI should become the secretariat of .geo Forum.  The .geo Forum should become a self-sustaining body with management elected from its members.  On a regular basis the .geo Forum should release a public call for participation, with the Forum as a whole selecting new members from the responses.  This approach will make the .geo Forum representative of the geospatial community.

George Percivall
for NASA's Digital Earth Office       


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