Enhancing local and virtual geocollaboration.
Virtual collaboration is an important theme of this project and ties together the implementation of the visualization infrastructure. At WVU specific attention will be paid to virtual geo-collaboration: the real-time sharing of geovisualizations in multiple locations to support research and decision making. Currently this is possible through a loose coupling of technologies such as sharing KML files between institutions and viewing them in Google Earth and communicating via peer to peer communication services such as Google Talk [d6]. This approach, however, does not allow for real-time updates, or editing information or shared navigation. A step toward a tightly coupled geocollaboration system has been developed at WVU based on ESRI's ArcScene and enterprise geodatabase technologies that allows for participant-driven navigation and near real-time interaction with data. (The local system syncs the current state of the database at chosen time increments, generally set from 45 to 60 seconds.) With the development of the new XNA Game Studio based Spatial Experience Engine at WVU, geocollaboration is being constructed on networked video game technologies that allow for real-time interaction, 3D immersive environments, and real-time communication. In addition to being available in the MechDyne FLEX systems in West Virginia and on the visualization platforms acquired as part of this proposal, each of these technologies is available for use on desktop computers, increasing access, though decreasing the level of experience and local collaboration. These efforts parallel the work being done at UAF using the Unity game engine and MU with the Havoc system, and all three groups will be able to use the CI-TRAIN setting to leverage their prior work.