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GSoC 2012 Ideas Page

This page contains project ideas for the Projects.GSoC program of 2012, see also What is an Ideas list? at the GSoC website.

Focus Areas

The projects for GSoC should contain improvements of 52°North software of the 52°North communities. We currently have suggested projects from Sensor Web, Geoprocessing, Semantics, Metadata Management and Security community. The software improvements concern usability, outreach and domain applicability. Some examples are better usability for non-expert (end) users, support for previously not covered domains (such as application profiles), one click installers, simple user interfaces, or powerful administration backends.

A goal is to make our software into better packaged "products" to allow people to install, configure and run our services and clients smoothly, which will eventually increase the user base. The GSoC projects should have as much reach as possible and should not target important features (especially if core or hidden) that have been put off for too long. An implicit focus might be put on few pieces of software, with the goal to have a broader scope and essentially one project from every community in future years of GSoC.

Proposed Ideas (not ranked)

The following list of ideas contains submissions from 52°North developers and partners. Please do not hesitate to submit your own idea - check out our partner network and their software projects (be aware they are not all Open Source), and please keep the overall goal presented above in mind.

In any case, please join us on the mailing list and chat to discuss your participation.

Explanation: Today, open hardware projects (e.g., Arduino) are more and more used to prototype sensing devices ranging from small air quality sensors, over smart metering devices, to remotely controlled vehicles. Small sensor platforms can be built that are powerful enough to support direct Web connectivity. Enabling Web access to such smart objects is addressed in the 'Web of Things' field of research. Thereby, access to things and their properties is offered via REST APIs. The 52°North SenseBox project develops a small sensor platform that can be equipped with various sensors to perceive its environment. It runs a Web server that offers a REST API which makes it available as a first class citizen on the Web. So far, the SenseBox has been used in a traffic observation as well as a precision agriculture use case (paper, slides). Similar 'physical apps' can be easily built by reusing the SenseBox hard- and software framework. In this project, the SenseBox's REST API will be adjusted to the specific structure defined by the GeoServices REST API (PDF;and see also this HTML version still under the previous name ArcGIS Server REST API). This REST API is currently going through the OGC standardization process. It is already widely used by the popular ESRI GIS software. By implementing the GeoServices REST API on the SenseBox, it will be directly accessible through standard GIS software such as ESRI's ArcMap - a life link from GIS to the Web of Things will be established.

Desirable skills for this project are moderate C/C++ programming skills for developing under the Arduino environment.

Expected results: Based on the existing SenseBox software code (which is again based on Arduino), a basic form of the GeoServices REST API will be implemented, so that data gathered by the SenseBox can be accessed and used in GIS software.

Community and Code License: Sensor Web Community, Apache License

Mentors: Arne Bröring

Project: Linked Open Data GeoViewer

Explanation: The 52°North Sensor Observation Service Linked Open Data GeoViewer provides a map interface to interact with and browse through Linked Open Data with geospatial attributes. The existing software is tightly connected to certain use cases in the field of scientific publications (see, protected sites and biotopes. The goal is to generalize the viewer and abstract from these use cases, so that it can be easily employed to display any Linked Data with geospatial attributes that use standardized vocabularies such as the W3C Geo vocabularies, GeoNames, or those currently under development by the OGC.

Possible extension: The basic software will be focused on a generic visualization of LOD on maps; the extension may implement configuration options to handle specific data properties separately, such as timestamps.

Desirable skills for this project are JavaScript programming skills, good knowledge about the WWW technology stack (HTTP, XML, REST, ..) and processing/visualizing geographic data are required. Some basic knowledge in the field of Linked Open Data would be useful, but can be built up within the project too.

Expected results: A JavaScript library that can be easily integrated into web pages to provide map views of Linked Open Data. One use case that we would like to cover is the visualization of air quality data, coming from the 52N SOS LOD wrapper.

Community and Code License: Semantics Community, Apache License

Mentors: Arne Bröring, Carsten Keßler, Henning Bredel

Project: SOS Administrator

Explanation: The 52°North Sensor Observation Service (SOS) is a widespread Java implementation of the OGC Sensor Observation Service standard. However, installing and maintaining an SOS still requires profound knowledge of the server architecture and manual configuration using properties files. An alternative to a sophisticated installer would be a Web tool for administrating the SOS. For administrative data tasks, removing/hiding selected observations from the reponses should be possible as well as changing all the properties currently in properties files and the capabilities document template. Status details such as access to the log, database and memory size, or service uptime should be easy to investigate.

Desirable skills for this project are Java programming experience, knowledge in browser-based user interfaces, and databases (SQL).

Expected results: A software component that can be installed alongside the SOS which provides (i) a configuration wizard/install page for settings (including optional example data insertion) after first run of service ["5 minute install"] (ii) data browsing, integrated editing backend for different databases system (such ash phpMyAdmin), and service settings and status.

Extensions: We are also very interested in a concept about how data administration could work with non-database data sources, for example other services. If possible, the student could even look into automatic updating mechanisms for webservices that require only minimal downtime and repetition of configuration steps (e.g. settings import and export).

Community and Code License: Sensor Web Community, Apache License

Mentor: Carsten Hollmann (

Project: Exchangeable Encodings for SOS

Explanation: The 52°North SOS implements only a subset of the O&M data format, because O&M is too flexible to be supported completely. However, the process of changing the encoding requires the developer to delve into the source code. It would be better if users could just implement a simple encoding (for example to support their own CSV or JSON data format) and upload a compiled jar file to the SOS with a browser-based user interface. Then a client selects the newly available response format to retrieve the data in a new format.

Required skills are Java, software architecture and design patterns, and an interest in data modelling.

Expected results: A software component that allows easy replacement of encoding functionality, SOS core improvements to make the programming interfaces more suitable to non-XML formats. The functionality should be tested by implementing the SOS Lightweight Profile.

Possible extension: Concept and implementation on how to include decoding as well, for example considering the RESTful interface of SOS 2.0.

Community and Code License: Sensor Web Community, GPL

Mentor: Carsten Hollmann (

Project: Customize the 52°North SOS Hibernate functionality to a new data model with SOS 2.0 support

Explanation: The 52°North SOS implements a Hibernate module to allow an easy replacement of the underlying database management system. The current data model requires some improvements, for example non-text values as identifiers to decrease the database size. Other points are a preparation for the upcoming SOS 2.0 specification and making the implementation of the current Hibernate module more independent from the previously used PostgreSQL/PostGIS module. This will allow easier exchange of the data model to ones that are not compliant with the default 52°North SOS data model.

Required skills are Java, software architecture and design patterns, Hibernate and an interest in data modeling.

Expected results: A software component that (i) works with the new data model with SOS 2.0 specification support, (ii) allows easy replacement of the underlying database management system and (iii) allows the usage of an existing database which is not the default data model.

Possible extension: Concept and implementation of a Hibernate Spatial Provider for SpatiaLiteto provide a ‘SOS in a box’.

Community and Code License: Sensor Web Community, GPL

Mentor: Carsten Hollmann (

Project: WPS Process Duration Estimator

Explanation: Users of the 52°North Web Processing Service (WPS) regularly ask how long a submitted process will take. Being able to communicate this to the users is not only a huge usability factor, but also related to security. For example, there might be a certain limit a user can wait for a calculation in disaster response scenarios. The estimation of processing times depends on factors such as the process applied (buffering, overlay), the processing backend used and the data input.

Possible techniques are artificial neural networks (see blog post) or machine learning, which would allow to build up a database of conducted process from the past which allow estimation of future processes.

Applicants should have some experience in Java and database programming, and preferably experience in developing algorithms or neural networks.

Expected results: A software component that uses the WPS status mechanism to communicate an estimated processing time and the percentage of already processed data.

Community and Code License: Geoprocessing community, GPL

Mentors: Bastian Schäffer (, Benjamin Proß (

Project: On-demand transformation of Open Street Map Data into common GIS formats

Explanation: Open Street Map (OSM) is a valueable and free source of geographical data backed by a large number of volunteers mapping the world. However, the usage of this data is not trivial. The central website offers only a 'raw' data format. GIS systems have their own dataformats. An on-demand transformation step is missing which can be filled by (interoperable) Web Services such as the 52North Web Processing Service.

Expected results: An addition to the 52North Web Processing Service to transform OSM data in various GIS formats on demand.

Community and Code License: Geoprocessing community, GPL

Mentors: Bastian Schäffer (, Benjamin Proß (

Project: OpenLayers WPS client improvement to work with big4 browser

Explanation: 52North maintains an OGC Web Processing Service extension to OpenLayers as the major FOSS Viewer on the Web. The extension adds processing and analysis functionality to the basic 'view' capabilities of Open Layers. Since Open Layers is a Web Client and runs in a browser, it has to run in the common browser falvors and versions. Currently, the extension does only work with the latest versions of Firefox but has difficulties with IE, Chrome and Safari. This has to be fixed.

Expected results: 52north WPS OpenLayers extions to run in the latest versions of Firefox, IE, Chrome and Safari.

Community and Code License: Geoprocessing community, GPL

Mentors: Bastian Schäffer (, Benjamin Proß (

Project: NetCDF tools suite as backend

Explanation: The 52North Web Processing Service (WPS) offeres functionality from several processing backends such as GRASS, R or Geotools. However, NetCDF is a major dataformat used in scientific applications. There is also a FOSS toolset available for manipulating, extracting and processing NetCFD data directly and efficently. A connection of this commandline toolset and the standardized and interoperbale 52North WPS, would allow the use of this tools in innovative SOA and internet applications.

Expected results: NetCDF tools exposed as 52n WPS processes

Community and Code License: Geoprocessing community, GPL

Mentors: Bastian Schäffer (, Benjamin Proß (

Project: Sensor Web Pickup Points

Explanation: We gladly admit that OGC Sensor Web standards are not without fault and can be cumbersome to use, but we also know very well the advantages of having interpoperable services. This project shall come up with tools to integrate more data from many different sources into the Sensor Web architecture using the concept of pickup points. One group of tools uploads data chunks in simple formats, for example a comma seperated list exported by a home installed weather station, to/from web resources (FTP servers, WebDAV?, AtomPub?), while another component collects these chunks and stores the data in a SOS.

This project is perfect for a bustling hacker who is interested in the Web of Things, not afraid of web services, and has experience in quick prototyping and data processing.

Expected results: One or several small tools that collect data in simple formats using standard techniques (e.g. CSV files from FTP servers, or RSS files via HTTP) and automatically transform these to standardized formats.

Community and Code License: Sensor Web community, Apache License

Mentors: Andreas Wytzisk (, concepts and architecture), Daniel Nüst (, technology/programming)

Project: OpenID/OAuth Authentication for 52°North Security Services

Explanation: OpenID and OAuth are complementary open standards for authorization in the web. They are widely used by large websites such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, PayPal, Yahoo or MySpace. This project implements the possibility for users to identify themselves at the 52°North Web Authentication Service using common web standards.

Expected results: Users can authenticate at 52North security services using OpenID and/or OAuth 2.0 methods. A demonstrator shows how users can browse a protected WMS server after identifying with their Google or Facebook account.

Community and Code License: GPL

Mentor: Jan Drewnak (

Project: Metadata Crawler

Explanation: Extending the metadata management toolset with a metadata crawler for arbitrary distributed resources. The purpose of the metadata crawler is to analyse arbitrary source, derive specific metadata items (e.g. title, creatore, date of creation) and publish it to a search indexer. The main focus shall be on spatially relates resource (e.g. GeoTIFF, shape files, OGC Web Services) but "normal" resources are also of importance (e.g. HTML pages, PDF files...). One idea is to base the work on Apache Solr and Nutch, but this is not fixed yet.

Expected results: A standalone crawler component that is flexible in terms of configuration and extensible regarding additional resources.

Community and Code License: Metadata Management, Apache 2.0

Mentor: Kristian Senkler (

Project: GeoNetwork Extension

Explanation: smartEditor is a standalone metadata editor that works well with standard OGC Catalog Service for the Web (CSW). However, if authentication schemas shall be considered, different catalogue implementation put something "on top" of the interfaces to handle user authentication. To successfully publish metadata against such a catalouge service, smartEditor needs to know how to deal with it. One existing open source catalouge service implementation is the GeoNetwork. smartEditor shall be extended to support this catalogue implementation in terms of publishing and searching. Experiences with XSLT and Java are required.

Expected results: smartEditor that is capable of working on top of the Geonetwork catalouge.

Community and Code License: Metadata Management, Apache 2.0

Mentor: Kristian Senkler (

Available Mentors

The following people are available as mentors for ideas proposed by students and as backup mentors.

Project Template (add your idea above and leave this template intact)

Project: <concise title>

Explanation: <Shortly describe the idea and classify as specifically as possible including the required skill level, for example "tricky project, requires in-depth knowledge of database configuration" or "easier project, good for student with limited Java experience". Clarity and detail are highly desirable in the idea description.>

Expected results: <add here>

Community and Code License: <if applicable>

Mentor: <full name and contact details>

Terms and Resources


  • Topic created by: DanielNuest
  • Topic created on: 2012-02-29
Topic revision: r32 - 02 Apr 2013, HenningBredel
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