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Username: kottman
Date/Time: Sat, November 4, 2000 at 9:20 PM GMT
Browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer V5.0 using Windows 98
Score: 5
Subject: Technical and Institutional Reservations concerning .geo


      To the Moderator of the .geo Thread of the Public Comment on TLDs

I am Cliff Kottman, Vice President and Chief Scientist of the Open GIS Consortium (OGC).  I raised the issue of OGC endorsement of the .geo TLD at the OGC Planning Committee meeting on October 5, 2000.  This is the policy formation committee for the Consortium.  OGC had received two briefings from SRI: one in December 1999, and one on October 2, 2000.

The consensus of the group was that there was insufficient time and information to consider and analyze the impact and implications, both technical and institutional, of the .geo proposal.  The committee requests more time to consider, prototype, and test the proposed .geo approach.

On the institutional side, there are many on-going activities, initiatives, directives, and deeply interested parties in the issues surrounding .geo besides OGC.  They include:
CIO Council
Critical Infrastructure
Digital Earth
EU Fifth Framework
Executive Order 12906
Federal Geographic Data Committee
Global Disaster Information Network
Global Spatial Data Infrastructure
Information Technology in the 21st Century
Intelligent Transportation
Livable Communities
National Spatial Data Infrastructure
OMB Circular A-16

Many others could be added to this list.  For example, there are numerous industry forums addressing the provision of geospatial information to hand-held devices, including IETF Spatial, WAP Mobile Management Forum, OpenLS, LIF, MWIP, and MAGIC. 

These institutions have not had the opportunity to formulate a community position.  I feel that, with respect to the profound institutional issues at play, ICANN should proceed with great caution.

On the technical side, it is understood that the central technical thrust of .geo is to add another search (or “discovery” or “mining”) mechanism that is based on coordinates.  Existing searches often require use of reserved vocabularies that often have a taxonomic structure.  The .geo approach leaves many technical questions unanswered:
How does .geo affect Metadata (and document 19115 in ISO TC211)?
How does .geo interface with other standards and emerging standards?  For example: catalogs, coordinate systems, gazetteers, portrayal and style sheets, map servers, feature servers, and coverage servers?
How does one publish the existence of geospatial information in .geo?
What geospatial formats are recognized?
What are the impacts on the traditional “taxonomic” reserved vocabularies that are currently used to assist information discovery?

There are additional questions about how .geo will work with files whose “footprint” is not well matched with the .geo rectangles.  How will .geo preserve feature-to-feature relations across “tile” or regional data-set boundaries?  How will .geo serve the mobile user?  What will be the impact on organizations that currently organize their commercial information by tiles, but by different tiles than those used by .geo? 

The Open GIS Consortium is a natural environment to resolve these issues.  SRI is a member of OGC but has not requested that a Special Interest Group (SIG) be established within OGC to address these issues.    I encourage SRI and the institutions that are partnered with it in the .geo initiative to charter such a SIG and use it to reach the broader GIS community.   The SIG could formulate technical approaches and broad institutional policy in response to the questions raised above.  I further encourage SRI and its partners and sponsors to help design, sponsor, and participate in an OGC Interoperability Initiative or Testbed that would bring interested and affected parties together and work out the technical challenges mentioned above. 

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the .geo proposal


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