GeoNetwork is a cross-platform software with a strong focus on the sharing and creation of georeferenced data that follow standardized documentation practices. While the data is the focus, the metadata and documentation are given equal consideration. Consistent and standardized documentation practices along with encouraging collaboration between organizations round out the main goals of the software.
Users of this software are able to establish an internal group structure with tiered access to uploaded data. Users can also share data with other GeoNetwork users and in turn, have access to a wide variety of georeferenced data provided by other organizations and individuals.
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The GeoNetwork project began in 2001 as a spatial data cataloging system for the Food and Agriculture sector of the United Nations. Many agencies since then have served as contributors to the development of the software; the UN Office for the coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, The European Space Agency, and the UN Environmental Programme are just a few. Since that time, its users have expanded to include a global network of spatial data users.
In 2006, a GeoNetwork Advisory Board was established overseeing annual goals for the software and ensure implementation of agreed upon objectives. Additionally they ensure that ongoing metadata standards are adhered to, in addition to establishing stronger cataloging reliability.
The software was created using Java and can be run on any OS including Windows, Linux and Mac OSX. A developer would need just a few tools to quickly begin creating plug-ins for the software including the following basics, Java, Maven, Subversion, Ant and Sphinx.
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GeoNetwork is a great platform for sharing data globally. Users can easily upload and download data of various georeferenced data types. These include images, documents and PDF files. Organizations can create a hierarchy of users for data as well. This hierarchy can be obtained using the software's users profiles. Group managers can identify which users profiles can have full, limited or no access to specific data sets. This ability achieves a level of data security assurance.
This software gives equal attention to its high standards for metadata creation, search and use. They follow metadata open source standards set by the Federal Geographic Data Committee in the U.S. and the ISO 19115:2003 International standards. Metadata capabilities include editing, sharing, viewing and searching. Advanced metadata functions (which can also be limited via access rights determined by the user management system) include extensive editing capabilities, validation and publication.
The ability to control different levels of access based on the type of user makes this software appealing to many larger organizations, such as the World Health Organization. With this spatial environment, internal users can access a different level of data than a public user. This feature can be critical for organizations who want to be able to share data, but also have a level of proprietary data which needs to be protected.
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