"White papers" are widely used in the geospatial world by tool and service developers to showcase new systems and to highlight new features that have been added to existing software. While there's no single agreed-upon format for white papers, they frequently weave in bits of relevant science & technology advances among bigger bits of marketing copy. Companies also use white papers to highlight case study applications of their tools, for example, describing the use of a network analysis tool to route cargo during a crisis situation. The focus on marketing that often appears in white papers does not render them useless, however, as white papers are frequently one of the best ways to quickly find out about new spatial data science technology and make a judgment before you pursue further contact with a particular company. The impossible-to-kill Esri shapefile format owes much of its popularity to the fact that it is completely described in this 1998 white paper. An alternative to white papers usually involves seeing a demonstration in person or via the web. It may be more practical to share a short write-up than to schedule a demo, and from the customer perspective, you may not want to engage with a sales team right away, either.
For the purposes of designing a GISystem, it's important to be able to find white papers, critique them, and then make a decision regarding whether or not you will adopt a solution for your system.
Discovering White Papers
Finding appropriate white papers can be difficult so I am including a few places where you can start. You may consider spending some time reviewing the sites listed below for white papers that are of interest to you and/or that are relevant to your term project. Try to find 1-3 white papers that are directly relevant to your term project. While you're reading the white papers, consider how different features are outlined and how you can incorporate those features into your own geospatial design. Also, consider incorporating similar language about geospatial features into your paper. In these papers, the authors describe the new features, the specifications, and justify the use/addition of the feature into the geospatial platform. You will also want to justify the use and addition of different features into your designs.
- Hexagon Geospatial ERDAS White Papers
- Open Geospatial Consortium White Papers
- Descartes Labs White Papers
This is by no means an exhaustive set - this is just to get you started, and I strongly encourage you to branch out into the specialty areas that you are familiar with or interested in