Sharing geographic information: An assessment of the geospatial one-stop

Michael F. Goodchild, Pinde Fu, Paul Rich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Humans have always exchanged geographic information, but the practice has grown exponentially in recent years with the popularization of the Internet and the Web, and with the growth of geographic information technologies. The arguments for sharing include scale economies in production and the desire to avoid duplication. The history of sharing can be viewed in a three-phase conceptual framework, from an early disorganized phase, through one centered on national governments as the primary suppliers of geographic information, to the contemporary somewhat chaotic network of producers and consumers. Recently geolibraries and geoportals have emerged as mechanisms to support searches for geographic information relevant to specific needs. We review the design of the Geospatial One-Stop (GOS), a project sponsored by the U.S. Federal Government to provide a single portal to geographic information, and reflecting the current state of the art. Its design includes a portal to distributed assets, accessible through a simple Web browser, a catalog based on the widely used Federal Geographic Data Committee metadata standard, services to assess and validate potential accessions, directories to available geographic information services, and automated metadata harvesting from registered sites. GOS represents a significant technological advance, however, its potential to provide a general marketplace for geographic information beyond government data has not been realized. Its future will be driven in part by technological advances in areas such as searching and automated metadata harvesting, as well as by clearer definition of its domain, either as the geoportal for U.S. data or as a broader geoportal with appropriate international or private partners. Incorporation of informal and heuristic search methods used by humans appears to offer the best direction for improvement in search technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-266
Number of pages17
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Digital library
  • Geoportal
  • Metadata
  • Spatial data

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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