This entry comes from my colleague, John Mugwe, after his successful expedition to the OCHA Regional Office last week. They're not quite ready for prime time but steps in the right directions are happening and now it's just a matter of getting some hardware in place.
And speaking of hardware: last week we also extended some capacity building and technology support to our benighted colleagues at the UNEP office Geneva who didn't have anywhere to safely experiment with open-standards software, particularly geoserver and postgreSQL. The fact that a colleague was here in Nairobi on a training course was too good an opportunity to pass up so I raced home, dusted off my obsolete 6 year-old pentium PC and boxed it up for its journey north. The point of this rambling? To underline the fact that it's entirely feasible to get going with open web services without major investments in hardware, software, time or effort. Sure, you can upgrade later, once your experience tells you that data services are something that you really want to get into, but you can start today and getting started is the important part.
Today we were at UN-OCHA (regional office) and we installed
(a) A geodatabase - Postgis
(c) Open source desktop GIS tools UDIG And QGIS
We walked Ayub through the steps of installing and adding Web Feature Services. We converted the shape file of admin lines for Somalia to the database and created a feature service for it.
We demonstrated that through a URL he could get UDIG to portray the features from the database.
The first objective we obtained is that now he can organise his data into logical areas and put then into the database. Secondly he can share the data with other people in his offices much more easily. He can also through UDIG get data from other WFS sites.
However he has no webserver outside to the world. So his data is still locked to his small group.
I see the next possible step as
(a) describing what we have ( round table meeting) as of now I have found Somalia admin boundaries in DEPHA, OCHA, FAO_SWALIM and maybe in ICRC)
(b) having DEPHA as custodian of all reference data
(c) Having DEPHA as custodian for all metadada on the reference data.
What else? We need to move this forward.
(Soon I will ask for a pay check!)