Task force maps out a peer-to-peer plan

Task force maps out a peer-to-peer plan

By Susan M. Menke

GCN Staff

APRIL 17'Peer-to-peer networking is making its government debut at www.FedStats.gov and at www.MapStats.gov.

By extending the technology that popularized Napster.com for sharing music files, statisticians at more than 100 agencies are sharing their databases and maps on every subject from agriculture to transportation.

All the statistical information remains on the individual agencies' Web servers, which form a peer content network. The Extensible Indexing Language indexes the content through a gateway server, matches up queries and organizes a hit list, much like an Internet search engine.

A more sophisticated portal now under construction at www.FedStats.net will let users submit query forms to retrieve statistical data by ZIP code or map location. FedStats.net will incorporate additional peer sites known as Digital Government Consortium grantees.

Brand Niemann, an Environmental Protection Agency computer scientist and member of the FedStats Interagency Task Force, is advocating that FedStat.net queries be made via the low-cost FileMaker Pro relational database manager from FileMaker Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif.

A user's PC needs only FileMaker and a fixed IP address to join in the peer-to-peer sharing, he said. The participating government servers, which might be PCs themselves, can be set to share their data only with a stated range of IP addresses or with all addresses.

The PCs and servers that share their agencies' statistics through the FedStats.net portal must have special peer-to-peer software. NextPage NXT 3 software from NextPage Inc.of Lehi, Utah, is installed on each of the statistical systems at about 70 agencies, Niemann said.

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