GeoTouch

GeoTouch

GeoTouch is a multi-touch display and information portal developed by the Earth Observatory of Singapore. It was originally designed for the GIS scientists working in EOS so that they can display their data in a showcase location and share it. As the scientists required a means of accessing accurate data quickly in a showcase location for dignitaries, press and other visitors, GeoTouch emerged as a useful tool to visualize GIS content on a large multi-touch screen. Also a natural multi-touch interface allows the user to pan, zoom and 3D rotate maps and layers on display using touch to examine geographic and geological information.

The software was written using .NET framework and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) graphical subsystem. Its architecture is based on Model-View-View-Model (MVVM) pattern and uses C# and XAML as its primary programming and Markup language respectively. It relies on Microsoft Surface SDK for capturing and analysing touch inputs and ESRI’s WPF SDK for displaying GIS content. The base-maps and GIS layers are uploaded by EOS scientists which is the primary source of data for Geotouch.

GeoTouch supports a variety of data types and allows for access to a variety of online mapping services. The basemaps utilized by GeoTouch are free online mapping servers provided by ESRI, Bing and Google. The software allows researchers to connect to other web-based spatial databases for real-time updates of data such as the USGS "Last 7 days Earthquake" data and NOAA Tsunami bulletins. Researchers at EOS also have the opportunity to load their own datasets onto the GeoTouch server, as ArcGIS shapefiles or as georeferenced images and animations.

Some examples of capabilities are the surface profile, distance and area measurements, drawing, RSS feeds and querying layers. Because users can upload their personal layers and integrate them to the base map of their choice, GeoTouch is a powerful and pedagogical tool for educators and geoscientists.

GeoTouch has moved from the walls of the Earth Observatory into the classroom in late 2012. Professor Kerry Sieh used GeoTouch in his interactive lectures for the 700 student-strong Natural Hazards class. New Division of Earth Sciences labs will use GeoTouch as a tool in teaching.

EOS has developed an iOS version of GeoTouch, GeoPad, which runs on iPad. An online web server is acquired from ESRI to host GeoTouch maps so that the software can be installed and display EOS data outside the institute.