Graciously provided by SRI International, Menlo Park, CA, USA
Submit feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
SRI International (SRI) proposes to ICANN a new top-level domain (TLD), .geo, which will
make the full power of geospatial knowledge available to all Internet users. Properly
implemented, .geo will make the Internet more efficient, both technically and as a tool for human
communication and commerce. It also will open new global and local opportunities for science,
commerce, education, and enterprises - even in the developing world, where such civic and
commercial activity has in the past been technologically or economically difficult or impossible.
This new TLD will provide a complete, virtually free, and open infrastructure for registering and
discovering georeferenced information on the Internet. Georeferenced information is
information that represents a geographically located place, object, or process with a geographic
location. (Additional italicized words are defined in the appended glossary.)
SRI's proposal stipulates that the basic service made possible by .geo, the registration and
discovery of georeferenced information, will be virtually free to Internet users and based on
internationally accepted open standards. SRI anticipates that access to this information via .geo
will vastly increase the Internet's usefulness and will have applications in diverse sectors
including education, science, commerce, and government.
Geodata, Data, and the Power of .geo
In the world of digital libraries, metadata is an abstraction, or summary of data.
we call it here, is a summary of georeferenced information. It may include the information's
author, owner, date, geographic location, keywords, and one or more mime-type/URL pairs
pointing to one or more attributes or digital representations of the georeferenced information.
Today's Internet contains a great deal of information that can be georeferenced - the National
Academy of Sciences estimates that 80 percent of the information on the Internet has a spatial
component - but it does not provide the geodata necessary for the prospective user to exploit
Online maps are a form of georeferenced information. These maps are inaccurate and often
incomplete. They are also expensive to maintain, proprietary, and difficult for the average
Internet user to use. Tellingly, more than 70 percent of adults cannot read maps. A new, more
ubiquitous way of accessing, displaying, and working with georeferenced information is needed.
.geo will provide an intelligent schema for rapidly collecting and registering geodata that can then
be used as a directory to georeferenced information. The geodata directs Internet users to the
information they are seeking, based on the geospatial region in which the information resides or
to which it relates. .geo-enabled searches will be much quicker, more focused, and more
accurate than searches based on existing technology.
With new, freely available, browser technology developed by SRI and others, .geo will be able
to present this information in two or three dimensions, time series, and other forms - including
traditional lists with links - that will be easy for the typical Internet user to locate and use. This
ubiquity of georeferenced information will provide a foundation for new Internet applications.
The New World of .geo-Enabled Applications
.geo will become the latitude and longitude of the Internet's virtual world. It will enable the
essentially free registration and discovery of standardized geodata.
Data Providers will
generate and own this geodata and the georeferenced information to which it refers. They will
be able to make this georeferenced information available to Internet users, either free or in
return for considerations including subscriptions and major purchases of products and services.
The types of georeferenced information to which .geo will direct users may include non-digital
legacy information, like maps archived in a library; digital maps, elevation data, and aerial and
satellite images; geographic locations of businesses, commercial and government services, and
natural resources; three-dimensional (3D) dynamic models of places including buildings, bridges,
roads, sea and air lanes, vegetation, croplands, and vehicles; scientific models of natural
phenomena; geoparsed textual information; and formats unknown to us today.
Data Providers will be able to geocode their information themselves or contract with others to
do it for them. Similarly, Data Providers will be able to format their information for different
types of access - for example, as 3D models or as lists with links - or contract with others to
do the formatting.
Georeferenced information, as SRI envisions it, might include nearly every type of information
currently available on the Internet and many types not yet available there. Similarly, many and
various services will be based on this information. These services fall into three broad
- Discovery and sharing of information, including:
Education (about people, places, things, and processes)
Travel and tourism
Electronic commerce: for example, locating vendors
- Analysis of information, including:
Economic development and health planning
Conservation and sustainable exploitation of resources
- Collaboration based on information, including:
More democratic, inclusive, informed governance
Regional and international scientific and economic cooperation
Flexible responses to health crises and natural disasters
Rationalization of markets and the means to serve them
A thorough discussion of applications, including depictive user scenarios, is contained in this
proposal's discussion of the Market, D13.2.3.
The .geo Hierarchy
.geo will organize the entire world of things and processes in geographical formats that are
compatible with Internet use. It will not be a mapping convention, although it will be used to
generate maps more complete than any on the Internet today. The .geo TLD, in combination
with the Internet, will organically generate a dynamic universal atlas of natural and human
phenomena - on land, beneath the waves, and in the skies (even in outer space).
The Schema. Everything in the world has one or more locations. .geo will categorize these
locations according to a Domain Name System (DNS) hierarchy of geographic domain
names. Unlike other proposed TLDs in which domain names are assigned arbitrarily, in .geo
the hierarchical domain name will have real meaning: it will represent a region bounded by
latitude and longitude. Such a region will be called a cell. Following are example applications
of this schema.
- The geographic domain name 20e30n.geo identifies the 10-degree x 10-degree cell
whose southwest corner is located at 20 degrees east, 30 degrees north.
- The geographic domain name 2e4n.10e50n.geo identifies the 1-degree x
1-degree cell whose southwest corner is located at 12 degrees east, 54 degrees north.
- The geographic domain name 11e21n.3e7n.30e10n.geo identifies the 1-minute x
1-minute cell whose southwest corner is located at 33 degrees, 11 minutes east and 17
degrees, 21 minutes north.
An XML name schema file downloadable from the URL nameschema.geo
will specify the exact form of the hierarchy, the naming convention for cells.
GeoRegistries and Cell Servers. Each geographic cell in .geo will be assigned at least one
server, called a cell server. Cell servers will be maintained by organizations called
GeoRegistries, who will be contractually obliged to provide services for the registration and
discovery of geodata according to protocols and minimum service criteria defined by the
Sponsor. Briefly, a cell server assigned to a given cell will be responsible for storing and
responding to queries for geodata that lie within its cell boundary.
GeoRegistries may charge a fee for registration of geodata, but this fee will not exceed a value
specified by the Sponsor. GeoRegistries will not charge a fee for the discovery of geodata,
unless they are doing so on behalf of Data Providers. GeoRegistries may offer other services to
Data Providers, such as data hosting.
GeoRegistries will be identified by their brand name. For example, a GeoRegistry named
"acme" may have a server (say server1.acme.com) that is assigned to cells 10e20n.geo,
10e30n.geo, and 2e5n.10e30n.geo. This means that the cell server domain names
acme.10e20n.geo, acme.10e30n.geo, and acme.2e5n.10e30n.geo are all registered in the .geo
gTLD registry, and are all delegated to server1.acme.com.
Note that several GeoRegistries may have cell servers assigned to the same cell. For example
GeoRegistries "acme," "best," and "first" could all have servers assigned to the 20e30n.geo cell,
designated acme.20e30n.geo, best.20e30n.geo, and first.20e30n.geo. Competition among
GeoRegistries is ensured, since many GeoRegistries can assume stewardship for the same cell,
competing on quality of service and other terms.
One special GeoRegistry must have a server assigned to every cell on the planet. This
GeoRegistry will be called the default GeoRegistry named "earth." (The names of the other
planets will be reserved for interplanetary geodata.) The default GeoRegistry will be used when
client queries do not specify a GeoRegistry name, or when the specified GeoRegistry does not
have an assigned cell server.
Since only one cell server can carry the default name, the default GeoRegistry will be maintained
by one or more entities (corporations, not for profit organizations, government agencies, etc.) on
a regional basis. For example, organization A may be assigned cells covering parts of North
America, while organization B may be assigned cells covering parts of Europe. Organizations
will be required to meet stringent performance and service standards and will be allowed to
compete on a regular basis for the assignment of default cell server domain names.
GeoRegistrars. A Data Provider who wishes to make its georeferenced information available
via .geo must use the services of an accredited GeoRegistrar (accreditation criteria will be
defined by the Sponsor and implemented by an accreditation authority designated by the
Sponsor, called the Accreditor). A GeoRegistrar will be analogous to a traditional Domain
Name Registrar; but instead of registering a domain name in a Domain Name Registry, a
GeoRegistrar will register a geodata record in a GeoRegistry. Specifically, the GeoRegistrar
will (1) determine the cell(s) corresponding to the geographic location or area specified in the
geodata according to the name schema, (2) choose a GeoRegistry, and (3) transmit the geodata
record to the corresponding cell server(s) defined by the GeoRegistry name and geographic
For example, consider the simple case of a restaurant with an established Web presence (such
In this case, a GeoRegistrar may offer a simple browser interface
that would allow the restaurant owner to enter the street address of the restaurant, the
restaurant's name, various keywords, and the URL of the restaurant web site. To register this
geodata record, the street address will first be geoparsed and
geocoded to provide the
geographic coordinates of the restaurant (geoparsing and geocoding services are available
today). Then, the geodata record will be registered as described above.
But consider a case in which the Web site describes several restaurants, each with its own home
page (such as www.familyrestaurant.com/moms.html). Even though there will be only one web
site for all of the restaurants, it will be possible to register a distinct geodata record for each
home page because each geodata record contains one or more complete URLs for the
Home pages and domains are not the only kind of georeferenced information that a business
may register. For example, a specialty firm may create and register a 3D graphics model of
each restaurant's locale, with a hyperlink to the restaurant's home page. Many other classes of
georeferenced information, such as digital maps, aerial images, or weather data, could be
registered in this fashion.
Dynamic GeoRegistrars. A special class of GeoRegistrars called Dynamic GeoRegistrars will
handle dynamic data, such as the real-time position of aircraft or weather systems. We envision
a Dynamic GeoRegistrar as a trusted agent that will maintain the real-time location (and other
attributes) of the object. Each object in the Dynamic Registrar will have a unique ID such as
aircraft-xxx, where xxx will be an encryption of the aircraft's identification number. The
purpose of encrypting this information will be to create a unique ID for each aircraft without
publicly specifying the aircraft to which it corresponds (for security reasons). This unique ID
could be represented as a domain name, such as aircraft-xxx.id.geo, though this is not
For example, an aircraft equipped with GPS receivers and secure wireless Internet access could
periodically contact the Dynamic GeoRegistrar (or the server delegated to its unique domain
name) to update its current location, velocity, and other attributes. This information could then
be used to update the geographic coordinates (and other attributes) in the corresponding
geodata record in the .geo hierarchy, and, when necessary, transfer the geodata record to a
new cell. This dynamic geodata can then be used for many purposes, including air traffic
analysis and providing global near-real-time maps of air traffic. Of course, the aircraft could in
turn use .geo to download or access localized flight/airspace support information.
In the case of weather data, the Dynamic GeoRegistrar might be the National Weather Service,
which maintains real-time weather maps or storm locations. As in the example above, the
Dynamic GeoRegistrar would periodically update the corresponding geodata record and, when
necessary, transfer it to a new cell.
Note that, in general, the attributes publicly available in the geodata record (such as the location
of the aircraft) may not be as accurate as the information in the Dynamic GeoRegistrar, for
security reasons. Other information that is available in the Dynamic GeoRegistrar (such as the
owner of the aircraft) may not be placed in the geodata record at all, or may be specified via a
Validation of Data. To ensure the accuracy and validity of certain classes of data for certain
purposes (such as elevation data used for city planning purposes), the geodata record will have
a field for one or more optional validation certificates issued by validation organizations.
The digitally signed certificate will certify that one or more elements of the geodata/data meet
certain qualifications, such as accuracy or completeness, or compliance with local, national, or
international standards or conventions. An organization authorized by the Data Provider to
provide validations will be able to issue a validation certificate for geodata offered by the Data
Data Discovery. Users who wish to discover data for a given area will use either a .geo search
engine Web site within a standard Web browser, a plugin, or a specialized application. In any
case, the user will specify a query (e.g., all train stations within walking distance of a given
location); the system will then compute the cell(s) that cover the query, choose a GeoRegistry,
and transmit the search query to the corresponding cell servers. The cell server(s) will respond
with a list of all geodata records that satisfy the search query. Where appropriate, the system
will download the data referenced by the URLs in the geodata records and integrate these data
into a view. This view could be a list of URLs ordered by distance from a point, or as a set of
icons on a map, or as a set of 3D models with hyperlinks integrated into a 3D scene.
.geo will be an Ever-Expanding, Dynamic, Universal Atlas of Georeferenced
Information. Unlike proprietary mapping systems, the .geo schema will distribute the
responsibility for locating georeferenced information, putting its control squarely in the hands of
Data Providers rather than self-appointed second and third party intermediaries. Because .geo
will be able to demarcate very small as well as very large geographical regions, Data Providers
will be able to offer information that meets the needs of highly focused searches as well as more
general explorations. (For example, a Data Provider may want to provide information about a
single location - even a single building - in which it does business, rather than count on its being
included on some other entity's map or list.)
With .geo, individuals and organizations that cannot now afford to have their information made
searchable by location (especially with search engine providers now charging extravagantly for
the privilege) will be able to do so. .geo will greatly increase the population of Data Providers
- and thus the cumulative value of the Internet - by enabling virtually any individual or
organization to offer georeferenced information in a way that will make it discoverable by and
useful to every user of the Internet.
Competitive Services. Because more than one GeoRegistry server will exist for every cell,
competition at the cell level will be inherent to .geo. GeoRegistries that are locally based will be
able to run each server, in competition with each other and with national and international
organizations that have in the past dominated the provision of Internet search and directional
services. Local GeoRegistries may be able to give better services to local Data Providers and
thus encourage more regional commercial activity on the Internet.
Network Advantages. Since end users' client software will be directed to the cells for given
geographic areas, single points of failure or congestion will be eliminated. Additionally, cell
servers will be less likely to fail because, unlike conventional network servers, they will have
reduced storage and throughput requirements: the information they contain will be
Moreover, because each server can physically be located near or within the defined limits of its
cell, overall load distribution for the global .geo network will be exceptionally balanced and
even. In the early stages of .geo, many domain names initially can be assigned to single servers.
For example, domain names acme.10e30n.geo, acme.10e40n.geo,
can initially all be delegated to a single server. As demand increases, the load can be
transparently distributed by redelegating the names to distinct servers. The .geo network of cell
servers will be dynamic and scalable, always on and always available to a great number of
The .geo-enabled Internet will be more robust than the current Internet. .geo will enhance the
Internet's overall performance and will help allocate its resources more intelligently. By enabling
end users to search for and discover information more efficiently - in the way users prefer,
rather than the way current search engines require - .geo will eliminate redundant searching on
the Internet, reducing the burden searching imposes.
Enforcing Standards, Protocols, and Performance Criteria
The distributed nature of the infrastructure will demand that all GeoRegistries within the
hierarchy adhere to well-defined standards and protocols for the publication and discovery of
geodata. In an open forum that includes GeoRegistries, GeoRegistrars, Data Providers,
international standards organizations, and, most important, end users, the Sponsor will define the
standards, protocols, and minimum performance criteria for GeoRegistries. These standards
and services will evolve over time as new services emerge that fit naturally into this new
The gTLD Registry (in close cooperation with ICANN) will be responsible for accrediting both
the GeoRegistries and GeoRegistrars, ensuring that they correctly use the Sponsor-defined
standards and protocols, and meet the Sponsor-defined performance criteria.
As a new top-level domain, .geo will provide a unique paradigm for harnessing the power of the
Internet. .geo will be based on the way human beings perceive and comprehend their world:
geospatially, in three dimensions, and over time. .geo will enable Internet users to navigate,
access, and visualize georeferenced data as they would in a physical world, but without the
barriers imposed by space and time in the physical world. It makes the world knowable as
- Accreditor (short for GeoRegistry/GeoRegistrar accreditation agency):
- an agency designated
by the Sponsor to apply the accreditation criteria defined by the Sponsor to GeoRegistries
- Brand Name (short for "cell server brand name"):
- the component of a domain name in the .geo
hierarchy that represents the name of a GeoRegistry, such as the "X" in X.30e40n.geo.
- an area, bounded by latitude and longitude lines on four sides, defined by a geographic
domain name in the .geo hierarchy, such as 3e4n.10e50n.geo.
- Cell Server:
- a server assigned to a cell, identified by a cell server domain name such as
X.3e4n.10e50n.geo. Note that there must be one or more cell servers per cell. If only one
cell server exists for a given cell, it must have the default brand name "earth."
- Data Provider:
- any individual or organization with georeferenced information, who wishes to
register the corresponding geodata in a GeoRegistry.
- Default Brand Name (short for "default cell server brand name"):
- the special brand name,
such as "mercury," "venus," "earth," "moon," "mars," that denotes the default GeoRegistry
for a planet. Other cell server brand names always refer to the planet Earth.
- Default Cell Server:
- a cell server with a default brand name. Other cell server brand names
always refer to the planet Earth. If there is only one cell server for a given cell, that server
must have the default brand name "earth."
- Dynamic GeoRegistrar:
- a GeoRegistrar that maintains dynamic georeferenced information
and periodically updates the corresponding geodata in a GeoRegistry.
- the process of translating a description of a location (such as a geoparsed street
address) to a geographical coordinate, such as longitude and latitude.
- the specialized form of metadata for georeferenced data used in the .geo hierarchy
and stored in GeoRegistries.
- Geographic Domain Name:
- the component of a domain name in the .geo hierarchy that
specifies a cell, such as 3e7n.10e20n.geo.
- the process of parsing a string, such as a street address, into its components in
preparation for geocoding.
- a distributed set of cell servers, maintained by a single organization, in which
geodata is stored and retrieved. A GeoRegistry is identified by its brand name in the .geo
hierarchy, such as the "acme" in acme.3e4n.10e50n.geo.
- an organization that registers (and often creates or validates) geodata in a
GeoRegistry on behalf of data providers. GeoRegistrars may offer their services via a Web
interface, bulk geoparsing and geocoding of specialized databases, or other means.
- Georeferenced Information:
- any information, digital or otherwise, about an object or process
with a corresponding geographic location or area.
- an abstraction, or summary, of data.
- Name Schema:
- an XML file that specifies the structure and naming convention for cells and
brand names in the .geo hierarchy.
- Validation Certificate:
- an optional, digitally signed certificate issued by a validation
organization. It certifies that one or more elements of the geodata/data meet certain
qualifications, such as accuracy or completeness.
- Validation Organization (validator):
- an organization that issues validation certificates. Any
organization authorized by the data provider can issue a validation certificate against
geodata/data owned by the data provider.
Send comments, queries, or communications to:
Copyright © 2000 - SRI International. All rights reserved.