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A geospatial search engine for discovering multi-format geospatial data across the web

Posted date: May 27, 2015
Publication Year: 
Authors: Bone, Christopher; Ager, Alan; Bunzel, Ken; Tierney, Lauren
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: International Journal of Digital Earth


The volume of publically available geospatial data on the web is rapidly increasing due to advances in server-based technologies and the ease at which data can now be created. However, challenges remain with connecting individuals searching for geospatial data with servers and websites where such data exist. The objective of this paper is to present a publically available Geospatial Search Engine (GSE) that utilizes a web crawler built on top of the Google search engine in order to search the web for geospatial data. The crawler seeding mechanism combines search terms entered by users with predefined keywords that identify geospatial data services. A procedure runs daily to update map server layers and metadata, and to eliminate servers that go offline. The GSE supports Web Map Services, ArcGIS services, and websites that have geospatial data for download. We applied the GSE to search for all available geospatial services under these formats and provide search results including the spatial distribution of all obtained services. While enhancements to our GSE and to web crawler technology in general lie ahead, our work represents an important step toward realizing the potential of a publically accessible tool for discovering the global availability of geospatial data.


Bone, Christopher; Ager, Alan; Bunzel, Ken; Tierney, Lauren. 2014. A geospatial search engine for discovering multi-format geospatial data across the web. International Journal of Digital Earth: 18 p.