Published in UCGIS Summer 2006 Assembly Proceedings: Vancouver, Washington, June 28, 2006.
Copyright © 2006 by Jeffrey A. Bergamini and Michael Haungs. Published by UCGIS.
Large online geospatial datasets for use with GIS are increasingly available and have many uses, including study in numerous academic and scientific fields. Access to this data in real time for pedagogical purposes would be immensely useful to educators. The academic lab environment presents unique requirements for data access: Its exploratory, multiplicative, and connective nature provides challenges and opportunities that have gone unexplored. Currently, these challenges make interactive educational use impractical. Also, student training requirements have been a noted problem. We present “GeoTorrent”, a system that enables such use for K-20 educational institutions. GeoTorrent provides a client-side proxy server that manages OGC WMS connections in order to optimize user-perceived experience. GeoTorrent works alongside and transparently to WMS-compatible GIS client software, assembling a shared distributed P2P cache, intelligently prefetching data, and offering aggregated service information. Several novel approaches to caching and prefetching geospatial data make this possible. Preliminary experiments demonstrate substantial improvements in user response time and service availability, and a dramatically reduced impact on remote data sources. GeoTorrent also offers an increased ability for educators to share data with and among students, reducing the amount of student training required.