BitTorrent for geodata was big in 2005

Big in 2005...

Today I'm trying to find out whether BitTorrent + geodata is a "thing". I have found out that it WAS a thing... in 2005! Just like Coldplay, Gorillaz, Eminem, 50 cents, James Blunt, Green Day... but it never really took off.

  • In 2006 Chris Holmes had a blog post titled Distribution of Geodata, where he said stuff like «What is needed is a standard, so that clients tile up the earth in the same way and make the same requests.» and «instead of asking the server to return a set of tiles that represents an area, it could ask a p2p network»
  • In 2005 Ed Parsons has a blog post titled Peer to Peer Geodata anyone ?, where he said stuff like «The idea of distributing large geodata datasets as small chucks is quite appealing and I have no doubt that when open geodata becomes more mature – this will be the obvious mechanism of supply» and «peer to peer means piracy in many minds, an unfortunate perception».
  • He and others mention, a site offering geographical datasets via bittorrent.
  • In 2008 people ask: What happened to
  • In 2011, I'm asking the same thing: What is going on with P2P and geodata? Either I'm hopelessly old school, or a good idea simply went missing without a trace...

Ok, so people are still talking about P2P+geodata in 2006, 2007 and 2008, but the fact is that it has not seen a wide breakthrough in 2011. Or am I missing something? no longer answers HTTP requests, but it is still registered. was run by ERMapper, who was bought by Leica Geosystems, who merged with Erdas, according to some person in 2008. It was a site devoted to offering geodata via bittorrent. Richard Orchard was one of the people behind Maybe he knows what happened to

Using the keywords "P2P" and "geodata" I went looking on I did not find that much, and nothing that has been generally adopted (see some of the hits in the Links section below).

What am I looking for in 2011?

What I'm looking for is something like a plugin for GeoServer, or a web-gis framework that fetches tiles via P2P, or something like GeoNode with a P2P twist. Actually GeoNode could be it... is GeoNode it?

Conclusion: Some pros and cons of P2P geodata

  • In 2009 a guy on a mailing list said: «Pure P2P solutions are great for exchanging large files, but typically have too much latency to be practical»
  • In 2010 some chinese guys said: «P2P technology offered a novel solution to spatial information online service and a good platform for sharing mass spatial data, it can avoid "single point of failure"and "hot spots bottleneck" problem»
  • In 2007 some austrians said: «As disaster management inherently happens in highly dynamic environments, these applications suffer from deficiencies with respect to maintaining connections to the server representing their sole source of information. We propose to exploit peer-to-peer networks to interconnect field workers.»
  • They also said: «P2P oriented raster geo-data online services have been widely applied, whereas vector geo-data online services still have many issues that can′t be handled, such as vector geo-data organization pattern, segmentation, lossless reconstruction etc»
  • In 2006 Chris Holmes said: «The damn brilliant thing about using an architecture of participation for geospatial data information is that as a layer gets more popular it scales perfectly, since more people downloading and checking out the layer means that more people are serving it up to others.»

If «P2P oriented raster geo-data online services have been widely applied», then where has it gone now? I'd like to find out...


1 thought on “BitTorrent for geodata was big in 2005”

  1. Pingback: Open Data sharing for free – myprivate42's ramblings

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