The GeoSeer Blog

New Historical Statistics and Extent Plots

Posted on 2019-09-02

The GeoSeer stats page went live just shy of a year ago and we've been meaning to update it with more stats ever since. Today we've done just that, with a few new stats, and a lot of cool plots.

The first statistic is the most simple: The number of countries that are hosting OGC services. A country for our purposes is simply defined as having a unique ccTLD (the last part of a domain: .pl, .us, .br, .au, etc.). At the time of writing this blog post, it's 87 of the 244 defined ccTLD's. (Note this does include .eu for the European Union which most people wouldn't actually consider a country).

Historical Data

GeoSeer has been live for almost 18 months now, and we've been crawling the WWW for OGC services for even longer. This means we have a trove of historical data about services, and the new stats expose some of that. If you look at the stats page now, you'll see the General Stats section has been tweaked slightly.

As well as continuing to show stats about the current state of OGC services "Now", we've added an extra column for "Ever" which shows the total numbers that we've ever found since we started doing this. Then with a little maths we show the percentage of the things we've ever found that are still alive now.

The Ephemeral Nature of Public Data
Datasets

The single most glaring statistic from this historical data is that we've found a total of 4,949,124 datasets since we started crawling, but only 1,865,660 are live and active in our index right now. Or put another way, just 37.7% of the datasets hosted by OGC services that were publically available at some point in the past 18 months are still online!

Services

And while that's the most stand-out statistic, the others also show how transient the OGC services that host these datasets are. Over the course of the past ~18 months we've found 291,779 different services, yet only 71.83% of them were online and responding on our last crawl.

Hosts

The final statistic of note here is the number of hosts. These are the domain names themselves, and different subdomains are counted as different hosts (so www.example.com is different from ogc.example.com). Even these have experienced considerable churn over what is a relatively short period of time, with only 85.5% of hosts remaining online. We should point out that we ignore the scheme (that's the http:// or https://) and ignore the port when we consider if something is a "host", so if a host changes from insecure to secure (and quite a few do), it won't make a difference to this statistic.

Thoughts

All of this change makes it harder for users to rely on this data even if they can find it. Especially for things like scientific research which relies on repeatability, including the ability for other scientists to go back and take a second look at the original data; a difficult thing to do when the datasets/services/hosts have gone offline.

This also highlights the importance of keeping data portals current. Link rot is a real thing and data curators need to ensure they maintain their portals otherwise the portals are worse than useless (because they're wasting everyone's time with bad links).

Extent Plots

The other part of this statistics update is a collection of extent map plots that show what parts of the world have datasets. We're going to do a separate blog post about them in the future.


A Midyear Update

Posted on 2019-08-07

The GeoSeer index of OGC Services continues to grow, now standing tantalisingly close to 200,000 services: there are currently 197,911 from over four thousand four hundred different hosts. And of course this only includes active services; the index is kept in an "evergreen" state consisting only of services that actually worked when we last queried them. There are many more services that are intermittent but these aren't useful to you so don't feature in the index.

On adventures we go

As well as continuing to hone and expand the service, we've also been participating in some community events. In June we participated in the OGC's API Hackathon in London, part of the process for developing the next generation of OGC spatial standards. They're at an early phase - with API Features being the furthest along - and we participated with the aim of making sure that discoverability was kept in mind during their development. After all, there's no point developing cutting edge standards if no-one can find implementations.

Then we went to Italy to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) - home of INSPIRE - to present and participate in a workshop about service discovery and search engines with regards to INSPIRE services. We met some of the people behind a few of the portals we harvest from, and exchanged thoughts on how services and data can be made more discoverable.

Statistics - SRS

We received a user enquiry as to which Spatial Reference System (SRS) was most common in OGC services, so we did a quick check and wanted to share the top results with everyone because who doesn't like stats. Note that there are lots of caveats that we won't go into here, we're sharing these as-is. It doesn't come as a surprise that EPSG:4326 aka WGS84, and Web Mercator are the most common.

SRS CodeNameNumber of datasetsNotes
EPSG:4326WGS84892,331Standard Latitude-Longitude
CRS:84WGS84514,924Longitude-Latitude swapped version of WGS84
EPSG:3857Web Mercator394,736De facto web mapping projection
EPSG:900913Web Mercator259,519Deprecated code for Web Mercator
EPSG:4258ETRS89166,684Europe
EPSG:25832ETRS89 / UTM zone 32N133,604Europe between 6°E and 12°E
EPSG:102100Web Mercator102,823ArcGIS Online version of EPSG:3857

The datasets define 1,318 different SRS'; above are just the ones with more than 100,000 datasets. We're always open to doing some stats analysis, just ask.

Licensing?

Finally, we've started investigating making the database available to third parties via licensing. If you're interested, let us know. Watch this space.


GeoSeer API Goes Live

Posted on 2019-04-09

We've hinted at it in previous blog posts, but now it's time for the big reveal: the GeoSeer API is live!

Designed to allow you to integrate the power of GeoSeer's search into your business's Web GIS or other application, the API allows your users to easily and seamlessly search for datasets without having to leave their normal tooling. There's an entire-page with information about it here.

As well as including all the features you're used to in the web-search, the API also includes some cool new features:
  • Bounding Box Search - Search for datasets that are within, disjoint, or intersecting a given bounding box, while also using a search term. Ideal for searching for layers that overlap the user's current viewing area.
  • Lat/Lon Search - Easily find datasets that intersect a specific point. Your user selects a location and now they can find data that intersect it. Simple.
  • Service Type filter - Only find datasets that are of the OGC service type(s) that you're interested in. Does your application only support WMS and WFS for instance? Then filter results to only search those service types.
  • Service Search - The GeoSeer web search only allows users to search datasets/layers, but the API also allows searching by service. Readily find services hosted by anyone from local government, through to global spanning organisations like the World Food Programme and everyone between.

We've created the snazzy GeoSeer API WebGIS that demonstrates the API in action, giving you a feeling for what you can do with it and how it could integrate with your own application(s).

The API has several plans to cover various needs, and the Enterprise plan allows for considerable customisation so you can get exactly what you need. So take a look and find out more about the API