GIS Blog

Our (Web) Maps

The Lincoln GIS Server allows us to make GIS data and maps available to anyone with a web browser.  In this post, several of the web maps we’ve developed are presented.

In a previous post we covered the idea of web services, which allow data layers to be served up to web browsers without needing GIS software.  In this post, I’ll introduce you to some of the maps we’re already using for teaching, research, and outreach and will end with an invitation.

When we talked about web services previously, sitting underneath that whole idea was the need for GIS servers – computers that can talk to the web and provide a channel from the outside world through to maps and data held on that server.  We’ve had our own GIS server for about two years now (with great thanks to Ayingaran Sundaralingam, Paul Helleur, Marcus Holland and Royston Boot at ITS for all their help in setting it up.)  It’s been a bit of a steep learning curve to get all the cables and plugs connected (not really – it’s a virtual machine) but we’re finally at a point where staff and students should be getting to know the potential uses of the server.  There’s an interesting (to use an industry buzzword) workflow from the ArcGIS Desktop to a web map.  The data side is relatively straightforward – you create a map with all the symbology you want, and then create a web service that runs on the server.  The hard part is then creating a web application (a webpage written using JavaScript or something similar) and “consuming” (another buzzword) that service in a webpage.  An application can consume multiple services, as some of the ones below do.  The application then sits on the server and anyone from anywhere can use it as long as they know the URL.  Here are some examples of the maps we have up and running now.  They’re not quite as shiny as I’d like them to be just yet, but that’s slowly changing.

LII River map for ERST311 – Ronlyn Duncan and I developed this map for her ERST311 course.  The purpose was to allow students to view different layers within the LII river catchment that flows through Lincoln.  Layers can be turned on and off and there are options to use either a topographic map or a satellite image as a background.  You can zoom in by holding down the shift key and drawing a box .  Or use the zoom in/zoom out arrows at upper left (that’s something that needs tweaking).  This map uses two web services – two coming of our server: one for the points, lines, polygons, and another for the satellite image.  A third web service comes from off campus that brings in the topographic map.  A work in progress…click on the map below to go to the application:

Map of Odonata (dragonfly) habitat – a masters student a few years back wanted the dragonfly community to have access to the habitat maps he created for his thesis.  An on-line map seemed like a really good way to do this.  This application uses Flex for a viewer and won’t run on iOS devices.  Only one web service running on this one.

September 2010 Earthquake Affected Sites Register (for lack of a better title) – I’ve been working with Roy Montgomery on this one to record the status of buildings and sites affected by the 2010 earthquake – still a work in progress I must say (as they all are).  With this one you can click on a site (the green stars – refresh you’re browser if they don’t appear at first) and a pop-up window will allow you to see some details as well as click a link to see some larger site photos.  Two web services; a local one for the points and the topo map service used in the ERST311 map above.

LU Staff/Student Addresses – in the early days of the master planning, Greg Ryan asked me to put together a map of staff/student addresses for planning purposes (no names or addresses can be accessed).  One nice aspect of this on is that it’s scale sensitive, so as you zoom in, other layers get turned on.  Again two services, local for points and off campus for the topo map.

WET Planting Sites – Hamish Rennie needed a map of all the Waihora/Ellesmere Trust’s planting sites.  So with data with GPS locations from a spreadsheet, I was able to map them and serve them up on the web (two web services again):

So that’s a brief overview of some (but not all) of the maps currently coming out of gis.lincoln.ac.nz, your friendly, neighbourhood GIS server.  There are a few with editing capabilities that are a bit broken right now – on my list of to-dos to fix up.

By the way, if you’d like to see the services currently available, have a look here.  The various folders hold different kinds of services.  “Dragonfly” holds the services for the Odonata web map above.  “Imagery” holds several image services, such as the satellite image used in the ERST311 map.  “Maps” holds the bulk of our map services – many of which are experimental.  “Utilities” hasn’t got anything in it just now.  Have a play – you can’t break anything and any of these can be added to an ArcMap map.  Refer back to this post and connect to gis.lincoln.ac.nz/arcgis/rest/services as a GIS Server.  And no, I’m not speaking Arabic.

And now for the invitation – see something here you’d like to do for your course?  Or data you want shared with colleagues in the form of a map?  I see the GIS Server as a resource for all to use (though I do need to keep an eye on my workload) so contact me if you’d like to get your own maps out there (for next semester, I hasten to add.)  They are Our Maps after all.

C

• 08/09/2013


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