Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has won the Ireland eGovernment API & Open Source Award for its extensive use of open source in its on-line geographic information services (GIS).
The EPA maps combine GeoServer, OpenLayers and other open source GIS solutions to offer online access to environmental data. Using the agency’s online map, site visitors can easily select datasets they are interested in.
“We are users, we are not actively contributing to the development community,” an EPA spokesperson told the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory.
In 2016 the EPA decided to leverage a switch to open source to unify its 25 mapping applications, which were built on a range of technologies and each had custom-built features. “We now have a base application – open source – that can be easily configured to suit the specific needs of each individual application,” the spokesperson explained. This will allow the EPA to migrate all 25 applications to the new platform: “The emphasis is on re-use of all of our analytical tools and functions. This will streamline the codebase, and reduce the maintenance overhead.”
The approach also helps the EPA ensure that its data catalogue complies with the technological principles of INSPIRE, a European Union spatial data infrastructure. Lastly, with the overhaul EPA is also able to share its data catalogue as open data.
The Ireland eGovernment Award ceremony took place in Dublin on 11 September. The ‘API and Open Source’ award, one of 13 award categories, recognises projects with real and practical participation in an open integrated project or community, according to the award website.
In a pre-recorded video on the API and Open Source award category, one of the jury members, Joseph Nugent, chief administrative officer at Ireland’s police service (An Garda Síochána or Gardaí) explained that he was inspired to see public services share their solutions without hesitation. He encouraged other public services to do the same. “The public sector holds quantums of data. I can’t even perceive how that might be reused,” Nugent said.