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From "patrick o'leary" <pj...@pjaol.com>
Subject Spatial Information Systems Proposal
Date Fri, 05 Feb 2010 16:31:16 GMT
Hi

On behalf of the locallucene, localsolr communities, JPL, and myself, I
present an Apache Spatial incubator Proposal.
Apache Spatial will be a toolkit, allowing spatial data to be represented
and queried in multitude of implementing technologies.

The proposal is http://wiki.apache.org/incubator/SpatialProposal
and I have included a text version of the proposal below.
I appreciate any feedback and discussion.

Thanks
Patrick O'Leary / Chris Mattmann / Sean McCleese / Paul Ramirez / Ben Lewis

------------------

Apache SIS, A toolkit for constructing spatial information systems.

Abstract

Spatial information systems (SIS) (akin to Geographic Information Systems,
or GIS) are rapidly growing as information has taken on a sense of location.
This location context has allowed people to start exploring different ways
of searching, clustering, and displaying information. Spatial queries such
as:

    * point-radius, e.g., show me all objects within X miles of point P,
typically a lat/lon;
    * bounding box, e.g., show me all objects within a box defined by south,
east, north, west bounding coordinates; and
    * polygon, an extension of bounding box to arbitrary shapes defined by
arbitrary points

are becoming a part of everyday life, where some combination of the above is
used to find a restaurant, determine sites of interest for climate research,
for data reduction and subsetting, or demographic profiling, social
networking, and a host of other applications. There exist a number of
libraries, and frameworks written in Java, C/C++, and other P/Ls that deal
with the aforementioned issues, however the one consistent homogeneity is
that most of these software do not include ASF-friendly licensing. On the
contrary, most of these software systems and tools are LGPL licensed, as
their use is primarily to produce GIS software, which is then sold for a
profit. What's more, even the standards organization the Open Geospatial
Consortium (OGC) promotes the use of LGPL SIS/GIS software to implements its
interfaces and specifications, leaving those interested in a more
ASL-friendly solution with a major hole to fill, or having to deal with the
license implications of leveraging LGPL open source software in their
applications.

We propose to construct Apache SIS, an ASL 2.0 licensed toolkit that spatial
information system builders or users can leverage to support the
aforementioned activities, alleviating much of the software and potentially
legal difficulties in implementing SIS/GIS systems. This project will look
to expand on those concepts and serve as a place to store reference
implementations of spatial algorithms, utilities, services, etc. as well as
serve as a sandbox to explore new ideas. Further, the goal is to have Apache
SIS grow into a thriving Apache top-level community, where a host of SIS/GIS
related software (OGC datastores, REST-ful interfaces, data standards, etc.)
can grow from and thrive under the Apache umbrella.

Proposal

The Internet is changing to the "local world" wide web, where information no
longer exists in a digital vapor, but contains real world context. From news
stories to tweets, location is a very powerful concern, evidenced by the
proliferation of popular websites offering geo-referenced information for
all relevant content (Flickr, Twitter, Google Maps, etc). Besides the social
utility of spatial data, there are also national interest related uses of
prime importance. For example, from a national policy perspective, and
federal agency perspective (e.g., NASA, NOAA, DoD), global climate concerns
have underscored the importance of science data collected about our planet,
all of which is location based. So-called "operational" and "actionable"
data including climate models, weather forecasts as well as scientific,
"offline" data (measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere, measurements of sea
surface temperature, etc.) all provide some sense of where the data was
created, where currently resides, and/or what it references. These are just
a sampling of the spatially relevant information available -- the list is
growing as scientists, policy-makers and decision makers develop new
downstream activities that leverage spatial data. As we move forward there
is also no reason to restrict the focus of SIS/GIS to just this planet as a
point of reference; other sciences (astrophysics, planetary science) have
been collecting information about our universe and other celestial bodies
for years, information that could be "spatial"-enabled. There has been a
growing recent interest in data collected about the Earth's moon as in the
case of NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, its Lunar CRater Observation
and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) and its Lunar Mapping and Modeling Project
(LMMP), as well as Google Moon and other such projects. Spatial data can
offer substantial value added for consumers of data through the use of
location-rich metadata, as well as through the use of layering, allowing
users of spatial data to explore layers of data (points of interest,
elevation and other parameters) in an interactive fashion. What's more, the
algorithms that drive SIS/GIS can be leveraged to represent data which is
not just geographical based, such as bio-informatics, fingerprints search,
facial search etc., providing substantial reuse benefits if an ASF-friendly
software system that provided SIS/GIS functionality existed. Apache SIS will
provide a manner in which spatial data such as that described above can be
represented and used with existing technologies. The proposed founders of
Apache SIS all have relevant and experience either developing spatial
software that can easily perform the above tasks, or have experience working
on the domains containing the georeferenced data of interest. We will
leverage this experience and data expertise to deliver an Apache SIS system
of use to a broad community of interest, making Apache an ideal home for
this important software.

Background

There are several projects of different spatial capabilities available
today, the two most common are:

    * GeoTools
    * PostGIS

Apache SIS goal is not aiming to compete with these tools but, instead, to
provide a spatial framework that enables better representation of
coordinates for searching, data clustering, archiving, or any other relevant
spatial needs. By developing a toolkit framework that is independent of
underlying implementation we hope to also reduce duplication of both
software and effort with a published interface which other software projects
can simply tie it into their own frameworks. The initial concept behind
Apache SIS comes from LocalLucene, an extension to Apache Lucene that
provided a Geographical filter on top of the Lucene search library.
LocalLucene went on to become LocalSolr, and has since been included in many
frameworks from Spring to Hibernate, to Hbase, and to Compass. The
LocalLucene framework has also been contributed to Apache Lucene under the
moniker "Spatial Lucene", and currently exists as a contrib module within
the Lucene project, version 2.9 and later. From January 2009-Dec 2009, while
working on building out spatial capabilities in Apache SOLR for oceans-data
and lunar-data related projects at NASA JPL, Chris Mattmann stumbled across
LocalLucene and LocalSOLR, and eventually discussed its limitations and
benefits with Patrick O'Leary, along with the rest of the proposed
committers in this effort. The consensus was there was a significant lack of
a generic spatial data focused library out there in Apache land, and if
present, such a library would present a unique contribution to the folks who
were working with GIS data, that weren't only interested in search. In other
words, there are a host of activities besides search (visualization, data
reduction, statistical analysis) where a generic SIS/GIS library would be of
prime importance. Both Chris, and Patrick, as well as the other committers
had been stung by the issues in dealing with LGPL libraries and there was a
difficult time finding any SIS library that was useful, and also ASL
licensed. From these conversations, Patrick and Chris approached Ian
Holsman, and asked for his support in championing this proposal and helping
to get this effort started. From there, we all agreed that the general
community at large would be best served by establishing a top level project
that focused primarily on solving spatial problems including search,
visualization, data reduction and the aforementioned use cases.

    * Apache SIS will also be the first known spatial project of this nature
to be licensed under Apache License v2.0, the vast majority of other GIS
projects are LGPL. Further Apache SIS will be the first known (to our
knowledge) Apache top level project focused on implementing spatial
standards, and focused on building an Apache-based community in this
thriving area.

Initial Goals

    * The initial goals of the proposed project are:
    * Viable community around the Apache SIS codebase
    * Active relationships and possible cooperation with related projects
and communities such as OGC
    * Provide a geo-spatial coordinate system, with planetary plugins.
    * Provide a polygon and line string coordinate comparison system.
    * Build a Java framework to start out, but look to develop other P/L
support (Python, Ruby, as a start).

Current Status

Meritocracy

All the initial committers are familiar with the meritocracy principles of
Apache, and have already worked on the various source code bases (incl.
Lucene Contrib, Tika, Nutch, and SOLR), providing issue comments, patches,
and in some cases, committing (O'Leary & Mattmann) and participating as PMC
members (Mattmann). We will follow the normal meritocracy rules also with
other potential contributors.

Community

That Apache SIS community will be a co-mingling of several other communities
that depend on Spatial & Geo Spatial solutions for their projects, the
expectation is there will be members from the original LocalLucene project,
the strong LocalSolr project, as well as Compass, Lucene and Solr at very
early if not immediate stages. We will also look to garner support and
contributions from other projects that are working in spatial, e.g.,
PostGIS, and other OGC efforts as well. There is already a growing number of
folks at NASA who are also interested in spatial systems and work in the
area. We will approach those people as well and attempt to bring them into
the Apache SIS community. The idea would be for Apache SIS to grow into a
top-level project that allows for sub projects based on SIS focus
(visualization, data reduction/algorithms, OGC standards, etc.)

Core Developers

The initial developers come from a diverse set of backgrounds ranging from
software architecture, search, academic, research/practice, to data mining.
All of the proposed initial developers require the functionality of Apache
SIS (Ramirez - LMMP, McCleese - oceans data, Mattmann -lunar/oceans, O'Leary
- local search) in a compatible way.

Alignment

Existing Apache projects currently rely on the proposed starting point for
Apache SIS, such as Lucene and Solr. We will begin by refactoring the
LocalLucene contribution into a library independent of any underlying
substrate (e.g., independent of Lucene). We will then look to add in
functionality for calculating distances, functionality for persisting
spatial data (to DBMS'es, search indexes, key/value stores, to Hadoop/etc.)
We will follow by then focusing on data models and export of spatial data,
culminating in an initial release that includes all of the basic
functionality to at a minimum compute on spatial data, and store/export it.

Known Risks

Orphaned products

Several projects currently contain implementations of the initial code basis
for Apache SIS, these projects can continue with the existing code base
without impact, or adopt Apache SIS and reap the benefits of a common code
base. Our goal is to provide value-added, shared ASL-licensed spatial
software that is easy to adapt and adopt in any of the existing Apache (and
external communities) developing SIS/GIS. Our initial focus will be on
building a Java library but we will look at means for extending the Java
library into additional P/Ls and frameworks.

Inexperience with Open Source

All the initial developers have worked on open source before and many are
committers (O'Leary, Mattmann) and PMC members (Mattmann) within other
Apache projects. McCleese and Ramirez are recent Apache committers on the
soon to be initiated OODT project that was accepted into the Incubator.

Homogenous Developers

The initial developers come from a variety of backgrounds and with a variety
of needs for the proposed toolkit. Further, the developers consist of folks
from at least two widely diverse companies, AT&T Interactive and NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, spanning industry and government/research.

Relationships with Other Apache Products

Apache SIS is related to the following projects, non of the projects are
direct competitors, but contain some functionality provided by Apache SIS

    * Lucene Java, contains Spatial Lucene. We will look to leverage this
code, combined with updates present at Local Lucene at Sourceforge as a
starting point for the refactoring activity.
    * Apache Solr, uses functionality from Spatial Lucene and may have some
inspiration for how to perform some of the spatial computations we would
like to have present in Apache SIS. Once Apache SIS matures, Solr could rely
on SIS as a library component.
    * Apache HBase - can index spatial reference id's and incorporate SIS
query methodology to extend it to providing Spatial services once Apache SIS
matures.

Initial Source

Apache SIS is an amalgamation of Spatial Lucene, and LocalSolr components.

    * Spatial Lucene contains the original Spatial Coordinate system
    * LocalSolr provides polygon and line string builders and comparator
features.
    * Local Lucene at Sourceforge contains a number of updates that we will
merge into Apache SIS

The above code sources will serve as a basis for a fundamental
generalization and refactoring activity that will result in an Apache SIS
system focused on: spatial computation, and spatial data storage/export to
start out. Activities such as visualization, reduction, and standards will
occur downstream of this initial activity once the code base becomes stable.

Source and Intellectual Property Submission Plan

All seed code and other contributions will be handled through the normal
Apache contribution process.

We will also contact other related efforts for possible cooperation and
contributions. Local Lucene is ASL-licensed, as is the other code bases
(Local SOLR, and Spatial Lucene). All proposed committers have CLAs on file
and are familiar with the code contribution process in Apache.

External Dependencies

At the moment, we will build Apache SIS so that is has no external
dependencies, and is self contained. If we do require common dependencies,
such as libraries for computation, or for storage/persistence, we will
ensure that they leverage an ASL or compatible license. For example, to
support persistence, we may leverage other libraries (e.g., Derby, K/V
stores, etc.), and in these cases, we will focus on those libraries with a
compatible license.

Cryptography

There is no cryptography required in Apache SIS at present time.

Required Resources

    * Mailing lists
    * sis-dev@incubator.apache.org
    * sis-user@incubator.apache.org
    * sis-commits@incubator.apache.org
    * sis-private@incubator.apache.org

Subversion Directory

    * https://svn.apache.org/repos/asf/incubator/sis

Issue Tracking

    * JIRA SIS (SIS)

Other Resources

none

Initial Committers

Name        | Email        Institution    CLA

Patrick O'Leary    | pjaol at apache dot org | AT&T Interactive| yes
Chris A. Mattmann|mattmann at apache dot org| NASA Jet Propulsion
Laboratory|yes
Sean McCleese| smcclees at jpl dot nasa dot gov| NASA Jet Propulsion
Laboratory|yes
Paul Ramirez| pramirez at jpl dot nasa dot gov|NASA Jet Propulsion
Laboratory|yes

Sponsors

    * Champion
    * Ian Holsman (ianh at apache dot org)

Nominated Mentors

    * Ian Holsman (ianh at apache dot org)

Sponsoring Entity

    * Apache Incubator

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