2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 9:15 AM


HOWELL, Paul D. and BENNETT, Brooke Yoko, Dept. of Geological Sciences, Univ of Kentucky, 101 Slone Bldg, Lexington, KY 40506-0053, bybenn2@uky.edu

New technologies now allow for a rapidly growing phenomenon with remarkable potential within and beyond the geoscience field: comapping -- cooperative mapping efforts in interactive communities. We define comapping as the development and presentation of rich digital content with spatial context by cooperative groups or communities, in an interactive and realtime digital environment. A comapping suite or stack is a collection of software that works together to offer a comapping solution, and typically includes (1) a content management system (CMS) to handle rich digital content, (2) GIS software to handle mapping and spatial context for the CMS, and (3) network aware applications to provide a secure interactive, digital environment.

Strictly, comapping involves a community of users knowingly contributing to a collection of digital content with spatial context. Today's comapping experiments are web-based, and results can be viewed in realtime, as changes are made by members of the community. The "co" in comapping stands for community, cooperative or collaborative, but not for content alone. Making digital maps of content in pre-existing databases, no matter how it was collected is not comapping... members of a community should be actively engaged in the mapping effort and capable of editing their contributions in realtime.

Current GIS packages typically lack robust handling of rich digital content and consideration for collaborative workgroups. CMS packages merge robust community features (members, permissions, workflows) with rich digital content development and indexing tools, but they lack spatial content handling. A comapping suite provides a portal-style community website with ever-changing maps of user-contributed materials, capable of continuous revision, commentary and more. Subgroups may start their own comapping projects that build on the GIS capabilities of a parent project.

Current examples of comapping are primitive, but growing rapidly in capability and number. Geological applications abound, as do those of many other academic, cultural and commercial fields. We demonstrate examples of active comapping projects and software stacks built on open source software that may be freely modified to meet community needs and presentation objectives.