All a matter of location: Fraunhofer FOKUS and Esri Deutschland develop open data applications

Release from Tue., November 19, 2013

Fraunhofer FOKUS and Esri Deutschland GmbH, a provider of geographic information systems (GIS), signed a memorandum of understanding today during the 2nd International Open Data Dialog. The aim of the cooperation is to develop new types of services and applications using data from the govdata.de portal and Esri’s GIS platform. One focus of the work will be implementing applications to manage and ensure transparency of urban flow systems such as traffic control, energy supply or noise pollution.

The information content of open data is enhanced if such data are linked with open spatial data – for example, current data on noise pollution from construction sites in different parts of a city. But to make such applications user-friendly, the geographic data must be analyzed and visualized in the form of (interactive) maps. In order to develop intuitive applications for business companies and private citizens, especially in cities, researchers at Fraunhofer FOKUS are working together with Esri, a company specializing in geographic information systems, and con terra, a company belonging to the Esri Deutschland Group. One of FOKUS’s priorities here is to develop solutions for public safety, health care, public IT and the energy and transportation networks of the future.

One of the data sources for developing such applications is the govdata.de platform, which is published by Fraunhofer FOKUS on behalf of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) and which has, since February 2013, made administrative data publicly accessible – for example, election results, development plans, waste disposal methods and road construction projects. ArcGIS.com is a global cloud platform developed by Esri to make available and utilize geographic data. The cooperation arrangement enables Esri to use the open data provided by govdata.de for ArcGIS, in the form of the GovData Mirror – Open Geo Data portal. Using the Open Data Bridge developed by Esri and con terra, GovData’s metadata catalog is regularly read out, filtered for freely usable geodata and automatically read into ArcGIS Online metadata and synchronized. All data imported to ArcGIS Online can then be retrieved, unaltered, via GovData. This enhances the usability of the information provided by Govdata. The cooperation partner responsible for further developing the Open Data Bridge is con terra.

Prof. Dr. Ina Schieferdecker, organizer of the Open Data Dialog and head of the MOTION Competence Center at Fraunhofer FOKUS, explains: “govdata.de offers centralized access to locally held datasets and documents of the Federal Government, the Länder and the cities and municipalities. Such data can only yield useful information if they are locatable and analyzable. That’s why our strategic partnership with Esri is so important.”

“The GovData Mirror site complements the range of geodata we offer and provides a global channel for the distribution and use of open data. To further enhance the value chain using open data, we offer the proper software tools – both for experts in the workplace and on citizens’ mobile devices,” says Prof. Dr. Gerd Buziek, spokesman for the Esri Deutschland Group. And he adds: “Fraunhofer FOKUS is our preferred partner in our efforts to combine scientific innovation with the high demands of sustainable, practical data use.”

On behalf of the Federal Government, the Länder, municipalities and business companies, researchers at Fraunhofer FOKUS are building open data portals and ensuring that they are interlinked. The comprehensive use of open formats like RDF (Resource Description Framework) or XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a prerequisite here. As a core element of the platforms, Fraunhofer FOKUS uses the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN), adapting it to meet the needs of the respective Land, city or business company. CKAN serves as a data catalog, enabling government authorities and other actors to enter and make available their relevant data promptly, simply and accurately.