Geospatial information of many kinds, from topographic maps to scientific data, is increasingly being made available through web mapping services. These allow georeferenced map images to be served from data stores and displayed in websites and geographic information systems, where they can be integrated with other geographic information. The Open Geospatial Consortium’s Web Map Service (WMS) standard has been widely adopted in diverse communities for sharing data in this way. However, current services typically provide little or no information about the quality or accuracy of the data they serve. In this paper we will describe the design and implementation of a new “quality-enabled” profile of WMS, which we call “WMS-Q”. This describes how information about data quality can be transmitted to the user through WMS. Such information can exist at many levels, from entire datasets to individual measurements, and includes the many different ways in which data uncertainty can be expressed. We also describe proposed extensions to the Symbology Encoding specification, which include provision for visualizing uncertainty in raster data in a number of different ways, including contours, shading and bivariate colour maps. We shall also describe new open-source implementations of the new specifications, which include both clients and servers.
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