GODAN Blog: GODAN Action Geospatial Service - Lessons Learnt


This Blog follows on from the interesting GODAN/CTA Webinar New Geospatial Service to Facilitate Publishing Data. Find out more or watch the Webinar here.


The GODAN Action Geospatial service is a Web service, designed for researchers, scientists and data providers, helping them format their datasets by using specific geospatial standards and enriching them by linking them with external geospatial entities. Using the service, the user can align his dataset entries with GeoNames entities and OSM boundaries, validate coordinates, and check if the dataset is well formatted according to geospatial standards.

Organisations such as the Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI)* and the Land Portal** have successfully piloted the service, benefiting from its functionality and contributing constructive comments to the project. Using the tool, the data analysts found ways to enhance their datasets and existing platforms. 

The HANCI data analyst found the service particularly useful to map boundaries using their latest dataset, allowing selected indicators to be shown in visual format on the map. On the basis of some of his observations, the service was further improved to support larger datasets and export compressed resolution geoJSONs for usage in external tools. Using the service, the HANCI team became more aware of the benefit of standardising country names within the dataset to allow the data to be both shared and used more openly. The HANCI team now plan to upload a dataset to their Web site using the standardised country identifiers that came up through using the service.

The Land Portal team found the service useful for, for example, validating different country names (different data providers often use various names for the same country, such as ‘Laos’ or ‘Lao People's Democratic Republic’) and matching them with ISO3 country standards. This allowed the team to match a given observation with a specific country, reducing the room for errors and increasing the accuracy and quality of the data they provide to their portal users. Another way the service was found useful was in the process of developing a new spatial platform. Using the GODAN Action geospatial service, they have been validating ‘locations’ below the national level, for datasets that are currently being used to test the prototype for the new Land Portal Spatial platform.

Having received and applied the helpful feedback these organisations provided, the service has increased in usefulness and we hope that it will be widely used in many more geospatial data related projects 

You can find the service here.

*The Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI) ranks governments on their political commitment to tackling hunger and undernutrition. The index was created to provide greater transparency and public accountability by measuring what governments achieve, and where they fail, in addressing hunger and undernutrition.
**The Land Portal is building an information ecosystem for land governance that supports better informed decision and policy making at national and international levels. The Land Portal typically does not produce data in the first place, but it rather aggregates existing datasets from a variety of sources using link open data standards and technologies. In general, our work with land governance and land tenure data exceeds the boundaries of a simple data aggregator.



About the Author: Dr. Panagiotis Zervas is Head of Projects at Agroknow, with 18 years of experience in the conception, coordination and implementation of more than 30 Research and Development Projects. He is Co-Chair of the Working Group on Agrisemantics of the Research Data Alliance (RDA). He has also been involved in the design and implementation of large-scale, EU-funded initiatives. He is the co-author of more than 100 scientific publications with more than 800 citations (listed in Google Scholar), and has received five Best Research Paper Awards at International Conferences.

Dr. Zervas would like to thank Laura Meggiolaro, Marcello DeMaria and Lisette Meij, of the Land Portal, and Jessica Meeker from IDS, for their invaluable input and for providing feedback about the use of the GODAN Action Geospatial Service.