Gazetteer and the Design of Digital Geolibraries

Goodchild has pointed out in his book the trend of digital geolibraries which utilize Internet and information services to emulate the services of conventional physical geolibraries. By this means, users are no longer constrained by the physical resource of conventional geolibraries. The term “gazetteer” describes functionalities that enable users to search an area with the place name, instead of pointing out the place on the base map. Generally, gazetteer contains location information about the place name, the dimension of geographic features of the location, population, environmental status, to name a few here. Users can visit geospatial information with the gazetteer, which serves as a type of meta-data.

In the section 5.6.3, Goodchild declares that the gazetteer is not likely to change rapidly, which I cannot agree here. For example, GeoWEB is coined as platform for geospatial information exchange, where information can be updated frequently. Therefore, the corresponding gazetteer should also be updated accordingly, since the outdated gazetteers can lead to failures in geospatial information indexing, searching and retrieving.

Digital geolibraries should provide functionalities to help user to access the gazetteer they need, or machine learning algorithms to fill the missing data in user’s input or searching criteria. Nowadays, the users of GIS are no longer research scientists or people with GIS expertise, so we should pay careful attention to the design of digital geolibraries. Sometimes, fuzzy reasoning should be applied in the design of gazetteers, which can present the geospatial information that are related to the user’s search at a reasonable scale. But how to define such a reasonable scale is a great challenge in the design of digital geolibraries.



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