The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Web Coverage Service (WCS) supports electronic retrieval of geospatial data as "coverages" – i.e. digital geospatial information representing space-varying phenomena.

A WCS provides access to potentially detailed and rich sets of geospatial information, in forms that are useful for client-side rendering, multi-valued coverages and input into scientific models and other clients.

The WCS may be compared to the OGC Web Map Service (WMS) and the Web Feature Service (WFS); like these it allows clients to choose portions of a server's information holdings based on spatial constraints and other criteria.

Unlike the WMS, which portrays spatial data to return static maps (rendered as pictures by the server), the Web Coverage Service provides available data together with their detailed descriptions; defines a rich syntax for requests against these data; and returns data with its original semantics (instead of pictures) which may be interpreted, extrapolated, etc. – and not just portrayed.

Unlike WFS, which returns discrete geospatial features, the Web Coverage Service returns coverages representing space-varying phenomena that relate a spatio-temporal domain to a (possibly multi-dimensional) range of properties.

Note: See also: www.opengeospatial.org


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