If you can’t link to it… does it exist ?

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

So goes the well-known philosophical thought experiment,  however rather than a discourse on observation and perception I’d like to hijack the experiment for an argument I have been making on and off for the last couple of years and which was  well summarised in a tweet summarising my point last month..

Does information published on the web which is not easily linkable actually exist ?

Well of course if I chose to publish my large spatial database of whatever using a Web Feature Service or some other application server the data actually exists, but as far as users of the web does it exist if I cannot find it using web search or more importantly as far as the way the web works cannot link to it?

This issue of making the so-called Deep Web more discoverable is still challenging , efforts such as the sitemap protocol have had only limited impact.

I would argue for the geospatial community in particular we need to take a more fundamental look at how we make information accessible and linkable on the web.  We need to start from the basic use case, common if you think about it but radical it would appear in the GIS world..

I need to let people link to each record in my spatial database and to share that link..

This actually requires perhaps a much more granular approach to making spatial data available, something that nearly got started with OS Mastermap but which for many issues was never fully implemented.

Rather than publishing online a database of railway station locations in the Netherlands and expecting a user to then query the database for  “Amsterdam Centraal Station”,  publish the database giving each record a URI so for example Amsterdam Centraal Station becomes;

https://brt.basisregistraties.overheid.nl/top10nl/id/gebouw/102625209 

Now this is something I can paste into an email, tweet or even share on Facebook !

Kudos to the Dutch Kadaster for taking this approach and providing this example, Ordnance Survey you could do the same ?

This approach also results in such data becoming part of the “mainstream” web indexable and searchable, but I argue the key benefit is the “linkability”

The Spatial Data on the Web best practice document, something of course I recommend you taking a longer look at provides many excellent practical pointers to taking this type of approach.

Maybe really this is just an issue of semantics rather than publishing spatial data should we be talking about sharing spatial data ?

 

The sign of the times..

You might notice a redesign of my site today, nothing major really a little less clutter hopefully, but the reason for the change is really behind the scenes. This site is now using the encrypted version of the web protocol https. Once only a requirement for sites taking payments and banking increasingly all types of websites are now making use of encryption and in the near future the chrome browser will label sites not using https as “Not Secure”.

Personally I think this might be overkill for a site such as this, but I can easily imagine people becoming concerned with such warnings.

A sign of the times…

Data driven development in Kenya

If you are interested in finding out how data can make a real change to peoples lives in Kenya, come along and find out about Gather a startup I have been helping over the last few months…

Gather is holding its first public launch on Tuesday 20th June at 7.00pm at the Urban Innovation Centre in London.

The evening will be a great opportunity to learn more about Gather and meet our wider team as we launch our demo platform.

Doors will open from 6.30pm and refreshments will be provided.

To RSVP, please email john@gatherhub.org. We look forward to welcoming you on 20th June.

About Gather:
Gather uses data to transform city sanitation. Gather’s platform will visualise the areas of greatest need, provide insight and track progress towards providing sanitation for everyone in cities, starting in Nairobi, Kenya. For more information, please visit www.gatherhub.org/about.

Every Concorde in a year…

Mission Accomplished…

Well I enjoyed that challenge, here for your reference are details of my quest all eighteen airframes visited in a year.

MSNREGHOURS FLOWNLOCMY VISIT
001F-WTSS812Le Bourget, Paris, France22/07/2016
002G-BSST836Yeovilton, England02/08/2016
101G-AXDN632Duxford, England31/03/2017
102F-WTSA656Orly Airport, Paris, France21/07/2016
201F-WTSB909Toulouse, France01/07/2016
202G-BBDG1282Weybridge, England15/07/2016
204G-BOAC22260Manchester Airport, England28/05/2016
205F-BVFA17824Washington DC, USA19/05/2016
206G-BOAA22768East Lothian, Scotland05/05/2016
207F-BVFB14771 Sinsheim, Germany25/08/2016
208G-BOAB22296Heathrow Airport, London, England21/08/2016
209F-BVFC14332Toulouse, France01/07/2016
210G-BOAD23397New York City,USA28/12/2016
212G-BOAE23376Barbados Airport, Barbados01/02/2017
213F-BTSD12974Le Bourget, Paris, France22/07/2016
214G-BOAG16239Seattle, USA18/02/2017
215F-BVFF12421Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris, France21/07/2016
216G-BOAF18257Bristol, England11/06/2016

Much as I expected it was in some ways a rather sad process of course we would all rather see Concorde flying rather than in museums, but the fact that a few of the airframes seem almost forgotten and unloved in a few locations is rather depressing.  Highlights in terms of the best preserved and presented aircraft are pair at Le Bourget, Alpha Alpha at East Fortune and Alpha Echo at Bridgetown.  At the other end of the spectrum are of course Alpha Bravo in the car park at Heathrow and historic Concorde 02 at Orly !

Seeing Concorde remains an emotional experience, even if you have not been lucky enough to see one fly, there is something so special about the design or at a more fundamental level just the shape. Of course Concorde was an engineering marvel but perhaps it’s real appeal is that it is the manifestation of the paper dart that we as children imagined all aircraft to be !

Every Concorde on a Map !

Concorde 101 G-AXDN, Duxford, England

So my last Concorde completing my year long quest to visit all eighteen remaining airframes… Concorde 01

Or is it 101 and what are these numbers all about anyway… Well is started quite logically, the two Prototype aircraft were 001 and 002, the pre-production aircraft of which this is an example would be 01 and 02 and the production aircraft numbering would start with airframe number 1, then 2, 3 etc.

Then is was realised it would be easier if all manufacture numbers contained three digits, so 01 and 02 became 101 and 102 and the production aircraft started with 201.

Just to add to the confusion there are the type variant numbers, a number associated with a particular customers version of an aircraft, so Air France Concorde were variant 101 and British Airways variant 102.

Anyway 01 had a short but distinguished life, completing 273 Flights totaling just under 575 hours as the British Development aircraft, quite different to the prototypes and much closer to the production aircraft in design. 01 is the fastest Concorde to fly achieving a speed of 1,480MPH (Mach 2.23) in March 1974.

01 is preserved within the Airspace Hangar at the Imperial War Museums Duxford facility which is a rather full of interesting aircraft making photography rather difficult. A recent innovation is the monthly dropping of the Nose of 01 on the last Sunday of each month  following restoration of part of the hydraulic system… Something I intend to go back to see !

It is possible to walk through the aircraft and view much of the test equipment which is currently being restored by the wonderful people of the Duxford Aviation Society.
Duxford