Internet GIS: Distributed Geographic Information Services for the Internet and Wireless Networks

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Internet GIS: Distributed Geographic Information Services for the Internet and Wireless Networks by Zhong-Ren Peng and Ming-Hsiang Tsu. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 2003, 679 pp., $90.00. ISBN 0-471-35923-8.

The Internet and World Wide Web (www) have impacted many aspects of geographic information systems (GIS). This contributory influence has resulted in geospatial data and geographic knowledge becoming easier to access, share, and communicate. The Internet has broadened the use of powerful GIS tools beyond the closed environment of the knowledgeable elitist user, and GIS now offers a more open, mobile, and populist environment with a wider range of services and application tools. Whether wired or wireless, Internet-based geographic information services (GIServices) provide a more widespread dissemination platform for geographic data and analytical investigation. Consequently, the new book Internet GIS: Distributed Geographic Information Services for the Internet and Wireless Networks is a timely and exceptional addition to an evolving field that has lacked a textbook which scrutinizes the symbiotic link between GIS and the Internet.

The authors of this new textbook have woven together the multitude of technologies that comprise Internet GIS into a very readable volume. The book consists of a motivating foreword by Michael Goodchild, and a preface and acknowledgments, which are followed by fourteen concise and well organized chapters. Together the chapters present a comprehensive treatment of Internet GIS theory, methods, software, and applications. A number of pertinent pedagogical features also enhance the utility of the textbook and its potential use in the classroom. These include a website showcase for each chapter, many illustrative diagrams, end-of-chapter web resources and bibliographic references, and a comprehensive list of acronyms at the end of the book. The authors' attention to the overall structure of an Internet-based GIS is evident in the pacing of each chapter and the subsequent integration of germane components which melds together a multidisciplinary field encompassing complex issues on theory and practice.

The first chapter introduces the fundamental concepts of Internet GIS technology and distributed GIServices. The authors trace the development and impact of the Internet on GIS, discuss its importance to GIS development, and define its basic elements (e.g., clients, servers, services, applications). Throughout the chapter the basic components of Internet and mobile GIS are aptly described. Distributed GIServices, for instance, are defined by the authors as technologies that use the Internet to distribute spatial data, as well as facilitate analysis, communication, data storage, and task-oriented applications. Readers new to the field will find these definitions useful in making sense of the many acronyms and concepts from diverse subject areas that form the foundations of Internet GIS.

Chapter two begins by exploring the fundamentals of network environments, network transmission protocols (OSI and TCP/IP), transmission protocols, information exchange processes, and communications in local area and wide area networks. Examples such as the University-based Internet 2 and the U.S. Government-sponsored Next Generation Internet (NGI) and Large-Scale Networking (LSN) projects are presented as initiatives that are expanding the boundaries of Internet GIS research and applications. In the third chapter, several types of client/server computing and distributed component frameworks are outlined. Fundamental components, such as the client and server, are dissected and detailed in relation to various potential Internet structures. Advantages and disadvantages of several pertinent frameworks (e.g., DCOM/.NET, CORBA, Java) are elaborated and discussed, giving the reader a good overview of their development and current applications. Both traditional and Internet GIS perspectives are explored in the context of distributed GIServices. …