GeGIS (managing Geo Data by using a standard web browser) (GeGIS)

Published on: 25/03/2008
In Flanders (Belgium) there is a great need for reliable GIS layers with recent GIS and other data. In many cases these GIS data layers have several authors. The condition for a guarantee of reliability is a structured and streamlined exchange of data between various governments with regard to GIS data. Every owner of data remains responsible for the management of these data. The aim of the “Generic GIS for e-Government” project is twofold. On the hand, geGIS aims to provide an e-office generator, based on open and generic components which make it possible to generate and make available interactive e-offices. These e-offices can be used without any specific software (a web browser is sufficient), both for consultation and management tasks. On the other hand, the aim of the project is to make authentic data sources adaptable and exchangeable, independently of the GIS package or environment that is used. GeGIS aims also to establish a fully open source Geo Data Infrastructure (GDI) in which data levels can be exchanged between various GIS systems. In addition, all government actors should be able to look at (GIS) data in a simple way and carry out calculations. GeGIS makes this possible at reasonable investment costs. GeGIS also allows services to exchange GIS data between different GeGIS servers. Therefore GeGIS works with a peer to peer concept to exchange and change GIS information on the fly. The first projects which will work on the GeGIS platform are 'the inventory of unbuilt-up plots' (Register of Unbuilt-up Plots – ROP), the one-off plot registration for farmers and the e-office right to advance purchase of properties.

Description of target users and groups

- Government agencies without a GIS system; - Government agencies who will spread out GIS in the entire organisatation at low cost; - Government agencies who will build an GIS extranet; - The GIS software developer community.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

The idea of GeGIS originated in the demand for a low cost solution for the inventory of unbuilt-up plots, which would allow local administrations without GIS infrastructure or GIS experience to transmit this inventory to the Flemish authorities in a simple way and in the required data format. In order to obtain the necessary buy-in, data suppliers, the Agency for Geographical Information, the Flemish e-Government Coordination Unit, but also representatives of provinces and municipalities, were directly involved in the project. The project itself consisted of two components: developing the generic GeGIS functionalities and creating the inventory of unbuilt-up plots counter. The various organizations guiding GeGIS subsequently set up a user group in order to further monitor the development of GeGIS. This user group meets 4 times a year and acts as a forum between developers and users. The GeGIS source code was published and a special GeGIS website was created. A seperate website was set up for the GeGIS core technology (MAJAS - Mapping with Asynchronous JavaScript and SVG). The Flemish authorities take the initiative to obtain a EUPL licence for GeGIS. GeGIS is also made available in the framework of the EU OSOR project.

Technology solution

GeGIS is integrally based on open source components: - Postgis (GPL); - Hibernate (LGPL); - Geotools (LGPL); - GeoServer (GPL); - DOJO (LGPL). GeGIS is also based on open web/data standards: - WMS, WFS (data exchange); - AJAX, (GML or SVG); - JSON, SOAP-XML (communication). Technology choice: Open source software

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Lessons learnt

1. geGIS does not aim to replace existing so-called Fat-Client GIS applications. geGIS does aim to make simple GIS operations possible as a rich internet application (RIA). It’s important to make this goal very clear from the beginning of the project to manage the different expextations. 2. Don’t sell open source on the basis of price saving advantages only (as a bargain), but focus also on the broader advantages like integration and access to data. For geGIS the underlying idea was that geGIS should give organizations with limited budgets (including the majority of the Flemish local governments) the opportunity to carry out simple GIS tasks (to frequently visit data levels and simply edit them). Another very important aim was that geGIS should contribute to the dissemination of geographical information throughout the organization. This means that GIS data can be used on a much broader scale (far beyond the boundary of one single organization). In the long term, this sort of approach can only lead to a higher quality of data. 3. Try to set up a network of users who can learn from each other. Otherwise geGIS proves that the development of open source systems can be very complex and have to carry out by professionals. Scope: International, Local (city or municipality), National, Regional (sub-national)