Oskari, the online geographic map-building tool that was originally developed by the National Land Survey of Finland, is joining the OSGeo foundation, hoping to become one of the world’s standard open source Geographic Information Solutions. “The Oskari network now includes 33 members, mostly public administrations but also 13 companies, and the software is translated into 14 languages”, said Jani Kylmäaho, head of development at the land survey.
The OSGeo foundation accepted Oskari as an incubating project in April. Oskari aims to become a full OSGeo project in 2018.
Oskari is already used for international projects, including Arctic SDI, involving Canada, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, USA and Denmark. Arctic SDI provides politicians, governments, policy makers, scientists, private enterprises and citizens in the Arctic with access to geographically related Arctic data, digital maps and tools to facilitate monitoring and decision making.
A second example of an international project is the European Location Framework (ELF). In this EU-financed research project, which ended in 2016, all of Europe’s national mapping agencies provided up-to-date, authoritative, interoperable, cross-border, reference geo-information to be used by the public and private sector.
Oskari makes it easy to build multi-purpose map applications or geoportals, said Kylmäaho. “You can also use Oskari to embed maps in websites, and for this no programming is required.” In addition, the software excels in combining maps with statistical data. “In Finland we use this to map real estate prices. The website visualises the changes of real estate prices, and the map part was added without any further programming.” Another example is the Finnish Geoportal, which fetches data from several statistics providers in Finland, visualising for example health and population related statistics on a map of Finland.
The National Land Survey of Finland started development of Oskari in 2010, said Kylmäaho. There were not many open source GIS solutions available, but public administrations increasingly required GIS tools. The project quickly attracted many other Finish government agencies and public administrations. “Public administrations are the target audience. However, since we use the MIT licence, companies are free to use Oskari for commercial projects.”
In Finland, Oskari is used intensively, Kylmäaho said. Since it is easy to re-use existing Oskari maps, many eGovernment services borrow maps built by the land survey to enrich their own portals. Examples include the city of Tampere, which uses Oskari to update citizens about planned railways and tram lines, and ask citizens for feedback. The services are used to show where you may fish and where there are fishing restrictions.