TechTip: Geonetwork, spatial information management software
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CTA. 2004. TechTip: Geonetwork, spatial information management software. ICT Update Issue 20. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57689
Advances in remote sensing and geographic information system (GIS) technology have led to a dramatic increase in the amount of available geographic information - from satellite imagery and spatial databases to interactive maps.
Advances in remote sensing and geographic information system (GIS) technology have led to a dramatic increase in the amount of available geographic information - from satellite imagery and spatial databases to interactive maps. However, access to this information remains limited, particularly in developing countries. To help put this information in the hands of those who need it, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has developed GeoNetwork, a spatial information management system that provides access via the Internet to a wide range of geo-referenced data from a variety of sources. GeoNetwork is designed to improve access to the FAO´s spatial and agrometeorological databases for decision-makers in agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Because GeoNetwork uses data descriptions (metadata) that conform to international standards, it allows for sharing of data among UN agencies, NGOs and research institutions worldwide. GeoNetwork is already in use in several countries. In Mozambique, for example, 12 government and international agencies working on agriculture, food security and humanitarian issues have been using GeoNetwork since September 2003 to share information and avoid duplication of work. The World Food Program (WFP) has also implemented the system in its regional offices in Senegal, South Africa and Uganda. A multi-layered view GeoNetwork allows users to search for data using a variety of search criteria (e.g. free text, keyword, country). All data formats are compatible with most professional GIS applications and freeware GIS tools. GeoNetwork has an inbuilt map viewer, called InterMap, which allows users to overlay map layers from multiple servers housed at development institutions worldwide to create a customized thematic composite map on their own computer. Each layer typically illustrates one or more variables, such as biophysical features (e.g. vegetation density, soil quality or rivers), climate (e.g. rainfall) or infrastructure (e.g. human settlements, roads or reservoirs). By overlaying various map layers, InterMap can illustrate the spatial relationships between a series of variables. It can suggest, for example, the extent to which a poor transport infrastructure is keeping a region in poverty, despite a rich agricultural endowment. GeoNetwork is free, open source software - a particular plus for users in developing countries, who can use, modify and redistribute the system source code and do not need to rely on foreign suppliers or costly proprietary software. See a target=_new href=http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2004/48327/index.html FAO breaks new ground in geographic data management, FAO Press Release, 21 July 2004. To learn more about GeoNetwork, visit a target=_new href=http://www.fao.org/geonetwork/srv/en/main.search www.fao.org/.../. The program can be downloaded free from a target=_new href=http://sourceforge.net/projects/geonetwork www.scourgeforge.net/.../