Our GIS consultants develop EMODnet Human Activities web portal

By July 2nd 2014

We are part of a consortium of companies (with Cogea, AND International, AZTI Tecnalia, CETMAR and Eurofish International Organisation) developing and mantaining a GIS-based web portal for European Commission Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE). The aim of the contract is to assemble fragmented marine and maritime mapping data on the extent and intensity of human activities, and make them available through a single web portal.

Through the release of the EU Green Paper on a Future Maritime Policy for the European Union in 2006, poor access to marine and maritime data was confirmed to be a barrier to scientific understanding, a brake on the economy and a handicap to government decision-making. In 2008 the European Commission proposed to take steps towards a European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet). “Human Activities” is the latest of the EMODnet lots.

The EMODnet Human activities web portal, presents marine and maritime mapping data of a series of activities related to the sea. The initial website,  launched in April 2014, has been extensively developed over recent years  as more data is added. The mapping data is collated and harmonised by other consortium members from across the EU. GIS layers such as aggregate extraction, dredging, commercial shipping, pipelines and wind farms can be viewed and interrogated using the web portal.

The web portal makes use of responsive design, allowing the information pages to resize and adapt the layout according to the screen space available on the viewing device.

Mapping Portal with responsive design

Mapping Portal with responsive design

The main data viewing page, allowing users to view and interrogate marine and maritime mapping data, makes use of open source mapping technology. Lovell Johns use open source technology wherever suitable as this approach offers software developments that use up-to-date and relevant open standards at a sustainable cost.

The open source technology utilised to display marine and maritime mapping on the EMODnet Human activities web portal data includes MapServer and Open Layers. MapServer is an open source development environment for building spatially enabled internet applications. Open Layers is an open source JavaScript library used to load, display and render maps from multiple sources. Google Map layers (map, satellite or hybrid) are used as the underlying reference mapping.

Marine and maritime mapping using Google Map layers, MapServer and Open Layers

Marine and maritime mapping using Google Map layers, MapServer and Open Layers

Users are able to navigate around the mapping, toggle on and off various marine and maritime mapping layers and interrogate features to see a wealth of valuable attributes. The web portal also utilises dynamic, database driven news articles, document stores and contact forms.

We use Google Analytics to report user statistics on a bi-monthly basis allowing analysis of site traffic in terms of user location (country), popular pages, how users have found the portal and on which pages users exit the site. The user statistics will allow improvements to be made to the site, and to how the user-base is expanded though the use of social media.

Further developments of the web portal will allow data to be downloaded and even streamed direct to GIS desktop software via OGC compliant Web Feature Services (WFS). Metadata will be made available based on the appropriate INSPIRE standards.

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