Geospatial Commons Workgroup

The workgroup's mission is to define and facilitate the implementation of a Minnesota Geospatial Commons. The Commons is envisioned to be a coordinated, next-generation site that will allow users to find, view and download data; publish metadata and data; and find and use web services and applications. Additional proposed functions of the site include:  web service ratings and monitoring; back-end broker that connects applications to web services; user reviews of data and web services.

The workgroup is a joint effort of the MetroGIS Technical Leadership Workgroup and the MnGeo Standards Committee. It includes the organizations that have developed the Data Deli, MN Geographic Data Clearinghouse, and DataFinder, along with other staff from state, regional, and county government.

It is too early to know if the Commons will replace the existing major Minnesota geospatial data discovery sites, or work with them to better coordinate the effort, but the intention is to make one main location where people can find and share geospatial resources in Minnesota.

Important Links

  • Status report (page 11), Nov. 7, 2012
  • The Minnesota Geospatial Commons: A vision, Jan. 5, 2012 (22 slides, 700 K, PDF)
  • Test Version using ESRI Geoportal Extension v. 9.3
    This test site implements some, but not all, of the desired functions of the Commons. Some of the implemented functions require further development. Because of this, the workgroup is not requesting review or feedback at this time. The test site is available for viewing for those who are interested.

    What's Next?  The Workgroup is recommending that a production site be developed using ESRI's Geoportal Server v. 10. Next steps include developing a project plan for a production version and seeking approval of the plan by stakeholder agencies.
  • Web Services Requirements report:
    • Clarifies what comprises a comprehensive documentation of a web service
    • Determines key characteristics needed to achieve "trust" in a web service

Workgroup Chair

Mark Kotz, Metropolitan Council, 651-602-1644,

Work Plan 2010-11

Check the Project Plan (pages 6-7, updated 6/7/10) and the most recent meeting materials (in next section below) for progress on the workplan.

  • Commons (previously called a Broker or Portal)
    • Refine list of functions.
    • Prioritize functions (click here for the current list of priorities)
    • Create a collaborative work site for our workgroup.
    • Compare prioritized desired functions to off-the-shelf product capabilities.
    • Compare prioritized desired functions to existing portal/broker/commons sites.
    • Research activities in progress in other states, and internationally, that can be leveraged for this project.
    • Determine if an off-the-shelf product could be used in whole or in part or if an existing site could be copied or used to meet the highest priority needs. If so, is additional design work needed to meet all desired functions?
    • Research sources of funding.
    • Recommend a course for achieving a preliminary version that exemplifies what is ultimately wanted, even if not all functions are operational.
    • Implement a test-bed broker as a first step in understanding the needs and as a way to “kick the tires” on at least some of the desired back-end functionality.
    • Include an assessment of user needs to clarify the functionality that users really want (so we are not building something we don’t need).
    • Set a course for production of a complete commons.
  • Web Service Trust Issues
    • Clarify what comprises comprehensive documentation of a web service.
      • Review lessons learned from the GeoService Finder project, in particular, that project team’s investigation of best practices and standards promoted by the OGC, FGDC, etc.
      • Review services portion of the North American Profile of the ISO metadata standard.
    • Agree on a list of key characteristics that must be addressed to achieve “trust” in a web service.
    • Further define the roles of the Broker (both machine and human) and the Enterprise Service Provider with respect to quality of service and trust.
    • Develop or find a template or model for service level agreements (SLA).
    • Work toward an SLA for the MnGeo image service.
  • Communication
    • Articulate the benefits of sharing services and of achieving a system that effectively supports sharing of services.
    • Let federal partners, NSGIC and others know what we are doing. They may have valuable input or assistance.

Meeting schedule and materials

  • Calendar: Check the calendar for the date, time and location of the next workgroup meeting. If none is listed in the next month or two, check directly with the workgroup chair. All meetings are open to the public and visitors are always welcome.
  • Meeting materials:  Click on an entry in the list below to view the agenda packet or notes for that meeting (PDF format).


Publications and links


Return to MetroGIS Technical Leadership Workgroup or to MnGeo Standards Committee