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Many organizations, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), are using Geoportal Server.
Esri Geoportal Server, a free, open source product, helps organizations build and administer geoportal Web sites where data producers can register their geospatial resources for others to discover and consume.
Geoportals help maintain the quality, currentness, and availability of registered resources by providing tools for evaluating new entries, controlling access to metadata and resources, and integrating the geoportal with other enterprise systems.
This functionality means that geoportals can enhance collaboration and data sharing among government and private agencies. By connecting geospatial data and service producers with consumers, geoportals reduce data redundancy, which saves time and money. By improving sharing of the authoritative version of data throughout an organization, it helps maintain data integrity.
The geoportal server was released under the Apache 2.0 license, which allows developers to freely customize and redistribute the software. Esri is using SourceForge to host and distribute the software and source code. This familiar platform will make it easy to incorporate contributions to the product from the open source community.
The geoportal does not duplicate resources but stores and catalogs resource metadata as well as the information for accessing those resources. Esri Geoportal Server inventories all metadata for registered geospatial resources in an Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC)-compliant Catalog Service for the Web (CSW) 2.0.2 geoportal catalog service. It supplies simple integration with external Web sites and applications through its support of REST, GeoRSS, KML, SOAP, and ATOM.
Geoportals support simple authentication or user authentication, with an external Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), for access and security. Access to metadata can be designated as unrestricted, public-protected, or restricted at the record level. By automatically monitoring registered resources, the geoportal can synchronize any changes to the catalog service.
With the CSW clients for ArcGIS, geospatial data and services in a geoportal can be searched, accessed, and used directly in ArcMap and ArcGIS Explorer.
Data producers can publish their resources to the geoportal simply by registering the resource's metadata. Publishers can directly create metadata in the Web application, upload existing metadata to the geoportal, or allow the geoportal to autogenerate metadata. Simple tools are provided for generating and registering metadata, and supported resources include datasets, analyses, tools, and Web services. In addition, the Publish Client that comes with the geoportal server lets data publishers register geospatial resources directly from ArcCatalog.
The geoportal supports and provides templates for several common metadata profiles—Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), Dublin Core, and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) including support for the North American and Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe (INSPIRE) profiles.
The easy-to-use interface lets others discover and access resources registered with the geoportal for use in their projects by searching on keywords and by location. Smart matching—enhanced by the ontology service—and smart ranking quickly identify the most promising results. Searches can be made on multiple types of search providers, including standards-based XS-W systems, Web 2.0 (OpenSearch) systems, content management systems (CMS), and document management systems (DMS). With the CSW clients for ArcGIS, geospatial data and services in a geoportal can be searched, accessed, and used directly from ArcMap and ArcGIS Explorer.
Search results can be previewed using the geoportal's streamlined map previewer, or the geoportal can be integrated with an organization's existing map viewer. Geoportals provide direct access to live Web services for preview and use. Once located, data can be efficiently downloaded using the Clip-Zip-Ship task. The area of interest in the dataset is specified, and the geoportal extracts it, packages it into a ZIP file, and e-mails the data.