GeoServer and Google's Geo Search

A quick announcement, that we’ve been showing off at Where 2.0: OpenGeo is building GeoServer 1.7.0 to be automatically crawlable by Google’s Geo Search. David and Arne have been working on trunk, and we’ve stood up a working prototype at This has been crawled by Google’s crawler, and is now findable from Google Maps or Google Earth. The dataset we’re standing up is Benzo(a)pyrene emission levels around the Great Lakes region, so now you can search for those levels directly on the places in the PostGIS database, like ‘Benzo(a)pyrene Carbit Paint‘. That link shows the search results on Google Maps, with the blue marker at the top of the list containing data coming straight from GeoServer. You can also constrain the search to just and browse through the results. Try clicking on the various links, which will take you to visualizing the whole dataset in google earth, using GeoServer’s traditional KML output, or you can click on the glc:glin_benzo link to see the KML in Google Maps.

Though it’s not incredibly flashy, this feature to me is one of the most exciting things to come in awhile.  It speaks to the future of the geospatial web, where your data is just available on a variety of platforms.  Instead of making a specific mapping application and putting some metadata on it, your geospatial data – the actual data – is crawlable and available on the geospatial web.  Our dream is that GeoServer is like Apache for the geospatial web, the standard open source way to get your information on the web.   Google and others can then crawl and figure out better and better ways to return and rank the results.

At Where 2.0 John Hanke and Jack Dangermond just announced that ESRI ArcGIS Server 9.3 will also support all content being crawlable, which is great to see as well, to get all the people who already have their server set up to easily expose their data to the geospatial web.  Though Jack seemed to almost gloss over that fact, he was eager to get to the point that these are real services that offer real GIS analysis.  John twice had to bring it back to the availability of this data to be easily found and used by other people in new ways, which to me is the much bigger point, that anyone will be able to do new analysis, even if they aren’t ‘GIS Experts’.  The geospatial web is not about the GIS analysis (though it’s an interesting aspect for sure), it’s about getting many more eyeballs on the problems facing us today.  GeoServer and ArcGIS Server 9.3 will both be great ways to open up vast amounts of existing geospatial data to be found and used by everyone, to be combined and reused in ever more interesting ways.


  1. Doug Nebert
    Posted May 14, 2008 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    I like the premise. I am working towards enabling generation of Geo/Atom feeds as digest from FGDC metadata collections and then the construction of sitemap.xml files, based on our discussions post-GSDI-10. By making the content searchable (Ed Parsons recommended RSS/Atom) it’ll allow us exposure into the main search engines through the registration of the sitemap files. I know that ESRI was dabbling in this with their Portal Toolkit but were unable to get a successful Google harvest going on the Geospatial OneStop. I doubt that all content will be crawlable in ArcGIS Server, but all data collection descriptions might be…

    I’ve been in communication with the Geo Search group at Google and they said that only georss:point is recognized for search these days, as most locations are realized as points. They do promise to support box and polygon indexing within the year, however, which will give us more control over finding and ranking geo resources with more complex footprints.

  2. Posted May 14, 2008 at 11:12 am | Permalink


    Absolutely agree on the Apache for the Geo Web comment. This is great to hear, and we look forward to putting it to use. Now it just comes down to getting agencies, especially those we work with in Jamaica, to share their data.
    Do you see watermarks playing a more significant role now?

  3. Posted February 21, 2009 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Exposing the data to Google search is great, really nice work! The KML ‘dynamic’ output using templates is a start but with Google Earth 5’s full support for HTML it would be fantastic if dynamic charts based on db content could be included for example. Are there any thoughts along these lines, examples of hacks, etc.?!

  4. Posted February 21, 2009 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Integration with Google’s Geo Search is fantastic! It would be even more fantastic if there would be more flexibility in the creation of dynamic kml (e.g. firing up dynamic charts based on db content). Any plans in that direction?!

  5. Posted March 3, 2009 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Can you tell me more about the full support of HTML? What does that add that wasn’t there before? Will it execute javascript?

    I guess the thing that would worry me though is having it not working with older versions of Google Earth, how do older versions handle features that are only in the latest?

    Dynamic charts should be possible using dynamic symbolizers, see thread on–to22291811.html

6 Trackbacks

  1. […] John Hanke had a nice set up talking about the dark web of GIS data that needs to be exposed to the GeoWeb and how they are working with ESRI to do […]

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    […] slated for release in the next month or so, which will include new breakthroughs in support for GeoSearch. This entry was written by Justin Deoliveira, posted on December 9, 2008 at 11:55 am, filed under […]

  4. By GeoServer 1.7.2 Released - GeoServer Blog on January 25, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    […] for the 1.7.3 release, slated for release in the next month, which will include improvements to Geo Search, and the official release of the REST configuration API. This entry was written by Justin […]

  5. […] for the 1.7.3 release, slated for release in the next month, which will include improvements to Geo Search, and the official release of the REST configuration […]

  6. […] Earth.  And look for the World Glacier Inventory to be available on Google Maps soon, as part of GeoServer’s integration with Google’s Geo Search. This entry was written by Mike Pumphrey, posted on February 4, 2009 at 11:50 am, filed under […]

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