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I'm looking for a suitable data format for various organisations to publish point data with a recent time component, like events, road closures, etc.

GeoRSS is the obvious candidate but:

  • It's XML, which is a bit painful, hard on the eyes etc
  • It's GML, which is not as widely supported as, say, GeoJSON
  • Because it supports more than just points, it's more verbose than needed for this case.

I'm tempted to just use a reverse-sorted CSV file:

date,id,lat,lon,description

Is there any reason a "feed" of data with timestamps needs to use a different format than any other geospatial data, anyway?

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GeoRSS comes in several flavours - you could use simple which is a step up from CSV. This gives you an entry like:

<entry>
  <title>M 3.2, Mona Passage</title>
  <link href="http://example.org/2005/09/09/atom01"/>
  <id>urn:uuid:1225c695-cfb8-4ebb-aaaa-80da344efa6a</id>
  <updated>2005-08-17T07:02:32Z</updated>
  <summary>We just had a big one.</summary>
  <georss:point>45.256 -71.92</georss:point>
</entry>

You mention you are worried about XML being hard on the eyes but no human should be reading this anyway so I can't see the problem. As for XML vs JSON you'll probably need to add some library to parse either unless you are in the browser in which case the browser can handle either.

My advice is go with the accepted standard as you have no idea what your end users will want to do with the data but they will curse you if you introduce a new (but oh so slightly cooler) format that their GIS can't understand.

  • "human should be reading this anyway" - in practice, open data tends to be seen by a lot of people when they're exploring datasets, assessing how easy it is to integrate the data etc. Developers seem to be much more enthusiastic about JSON based data than XML. – Steve Bennett May 4 '15 at 1:11
  • Also - thanks, I didn't know about simple. It doesn't seem to be totally complete though - which fields are required? Seems moderately weird that GeoRSS simple isn't necessarily RSS or GML. – Steve Bennett May 4 '15 at 1:16

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