The role of GEONET in GEOSS
Communications are an important part of the GEOSS infrastructurer, enabling users access to the vast aray of Earth observation data, In addition to “traditional” internet access, GEOSS is offering or examing space-based delivery (GEONETCast) and mobile phone delivery. The role GEONET Mobile can play is in extending the reach of GEOSS to users in rural and urban areas with limited internet access, particularly in developing countries. The ultimate goal is to prepare a GEONET Mobile specification. Many examples are rooted in the local, South African, context to provide a real-world background for the sake of discussion.
GEONET is also developing an architecture to use the existing infrastructure communications networks used by science and research facilities. GEONET is envisaged as a global communication network of interconnected networks by which GEOSS related information, data and products can be circulated and distributed in response to users’ and providers’ needs.
GEONET is based on the sharing of national, regional and global telecommunications networks (high-speed research networks, Internet, satellite, terrestrial (fixed and mobile) networks) and will serve all GEOSS Societal Benefit Areas.
GEONET is therefore a network-of-networks within GEOSS providing access points for users and data providers and comprises of User Access, Data Exchange and Dissemination services.
GEONET Mobile – Extending GEOSS reach
Mobile networks today penetrate many areas in developing countries where traditional telecommunications networks and the Internet never reached. For example, second generation (2G) with limited data capabilities and 2.5G solutions like GPRS and EDGE with adequate data capabilities are being offered in many developing countries.
Mobile phones are convenient personal information access devices, but capabilities vary. Basic phones can make and receive voice calls, send and receive text messages (SMSs) and make use of USSD services. Feature phones offer additional functionality such as multimedia services (MMS), often include a camera, colour screen and additional storage space and support e-mail and web browsing. Often they can access the Internet, but they generally have a standard numeric keypad. Smartphones have advanced capabilities and allow users to add applications to their phones. They usually have a QWERTY keypad and include 3G and Wi-Fi capabilities. Smartphones and feature phones can therefore provide access to richer content than basic phones.
The article “Use of Mobile Technology in Information Dissemination”, (3 November 2009), highlights critical issues related to information dissemination using mobile technology. It deals with the identification of the lowest common denominator, costs and the role of SMS.
GEONET Mobile will provide in country platforms (mobile gateways) to deliver relevant GEOSS information to mobile phone users over national mobile networks in developing countries. GEONET Mobile will be able to interact with mobile devices either via mobile networks or via Wi-Fi / Mesh networks. GEONET Mobile will also be able to receive information via GEONETCast, the satellite based GEOSS dissemination and distribution network.