Wednesday, November 02, 2005

How to Get Jim, George, and Sally Their Spatial Data

OK, so as I discussed here, we have devised three ways to access spatial data that we are collecting in the library. This has been a constant struggle as our 25,000 strong student body makes it impossible to secure site licensing.

Our ace in the hole has been Citrix (Previous Post | Website), but some vendors (this one and this one) have been giving us a bit of a hard time. One of these vendors is holding us up right now as our users cannot access the data because we are negotiating the license to allow us distribute the data via Citrix.

So, let's follow Jim, George, and Sally as they try to access data from our library's Geospatial Catalog (GeoSpat).

As you will see, Sally exhibits the response that I am struggling to minimize. If you have any ideas, please post them here or let me know (gislib AT uta DOT edu).

  • Jim searches GeoSpat looking for geologic data for Webb County, Texas.

    Comes up with a hit. Great. The data is being served by Citrix. Let me give that a shot.

    Drat. Computer telling him that the maximum numbers of users (1) are currently using the application and that he should try again in a few minutes.

    OK, waiting now...Try again. Yep, this time it works. Downloading the data. Wow, there is even a tutorial that some lovely librarian must have created. :)

  • George searches GeoSpat for FEMA flood data in Tarrant County, Texas.

    Holey-mackeral...GeoSpat leads George to the direct download site (UTA Only).

    Click it, download it, unzip it, view it. Hey, this even has good metadata. Cool.

  • Sally is looking for landuse data for Asia.

    Sally searches GeoSpat.

    Got a hit . Fantastic.

    Let's see here...where is the download button? Says here that I need to go to the Reference Desk?!?!?!? All the way at the Central Library!

    Well, shiver my timbers...That's way across campus. Forget it then. I didn't need that data anyway.

I cannot control how Sally reacts to this situation, but this reaction occurs quite a bit. I can, however, work to minimize the situations that prompt Sally to come to her terrible decision.

So, we are still looking into other ways to distribute our data, but I do not think that we will ever totally overcome that dreaded license issue. My goodness, it is hard work not to break license agreements. (But it would be my job if I ever did.)

One of the products we are looking into is the ArcIMS Data Delivery Extension. This seems really, really cool. I have not run into a single website that is actually using it, but we installed it on our server and I am looking forward to playing around with it over the winter holidays.

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