Oskari is the open source platform bringing maps on your website - beside all the other important information. Oskari offers easy-to-use, browser-based tools to access and re-use spatial information from various data sources e.g. in eGovernment applications.
One of the main features of Oskari is the easy-to-use wizard for creating embedded maps. Embedded maps are fully functional map clients run as SAAS service from an Oskari installation. They can be used e.g. in context of eGovernment services where information from different registers needs to be displayed on the map along with map layers from a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) such as INSPIRE.
Oskari is based on open standards and many standard open source libraries like jQuery, OpenLayers, GeoServer, PostgreSQL etc. It is ready to connect to INSPIRE data services or other data sources with standard OGC APIs (WMS, WMTS, WFS). One can also easily add own data or a dataset to the service. The source code is available by the dual open licences (MIT and EUPL).
Oskari saves time and money. It supports the design and the publishing of embedded maps within a few minutes. A user can not only choose the map layers but also easily pick the necessary tools for the map user interface - all that without programming skills. Moreover, embedded maps work fluently in mobile devices. In addition, one can create thematic maps based on geospatial statistics and even run on-line analysis with spatial data.
The development of Oskari began in 2009 when the National Land Survey of Finland (NLS FI) started to build a national geoportal to support the implementation of the INSPIRE directive. Because a traditional geoportal cannot anymore fulfil user needs, NLS FI decided to create an open source service platform in order to support and encourage a wide use of the national spatial data infrastructure (SDI) as a part of e-Government services.
Oskari platform has been designed flexible: functionality can be added both to the user interface and the server, and the libraries used in the application can be changed. Moreover, an embedded map can be integrated easily into other websites and eGovernment services and interactively controlled using the remote procedure call (RPC) interface.
Embedded maps with strong integration capabilities make it possible for users to see the maps in context right beside the information about the service or phenomena. For example, it is much more illustrative to have a map beside the description of a public service point than having the public services as a map layer in a geoportal. Displaying a thematic map beside statistical figures will facilitate better understanding of the phenomena in question.
Oskari is already reused across borders. The national mapping agencies in Europe have launched together a showcase application as a part of the European Location Framework (ELF) project and the Arctic Council has published the Arctic SDI Geoportal in collaboration with the member countries. In 2016 Iceland released the national geoportal powered by Oskari.
In addition, Oskari is reused by administration at all levels in Finland. Some reuse cases have been listed under public administration references.
In 2014 the development of Oskari platform was organised as an open network consisting today of 32 organisations from the public and private sectors. NLS FI has been the network coordinator since the beginning of collaboration. Currently the network is preparing the incubation process to enter Oskari as an Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) Project. Until now the overall budget for the development has been about four million euros.
Benefits to public sector organizations
Oskari platform is easy to use tool for browsing, sharing and analysing of geographic information from distributed data sources, and it is a very efficient platform for publishing embedded maps without programming skills. Oskari supports the usage of the national and international standards-based spatial data infrastructures as a part of e-Government services.
Oskari platform saves time and money for organisations in public administration. The open source code is available free of charge and extendable in reusable manner. In many cases public sector organisations can use an existing Oskari service and simply publish embedded maps within a few minutes to their web pages without an own Oskari installation. Possibility to share development costs using collaborative development, lack of license costs and modular extendable architecture reduce the lifecycle costs of the software drastically.
Architecture of the platform
The key idea is to reuse existing open source components and technologies and package them in such a way, that the platform is extendable and configurable. This has made it possible to develop Oskari and add new features collaboratively together with multiple organizations: there are guidelines how to extend the functionality in a coordinated manner.
For example, a new type of data source for place name / address search can be added just by adding a plugin, not having to redevelop the whole search functionality.
User interface is implemented as a collection of reusable bundles. Bundles are used as uniform containers to ship and share new functionality to the application setups. Additions to existing functionality are implemented as plugins shipped within the bundles.
An embedded map can be controlled from the parent web page by using the remote procedure call (RPC) interface.
Server-side functionality of the platform is implemented as a Java servlet, which can also be extended to handle new functionality.
The platform is flexible: functionality can be added both to the user interface and the server, and the application libraries can be changed as new versions or more advanced implementations become available.
The platform is designed to run under a servlet container such as Jetty or Tomcat, so it should run in environments for which all the dependencies are available.
Scaling and Extending Oskari
The software is both scalable and extendable. High volume services can be provided by ensuring there is proper hardware and software configuration, including load balancing if necessary. It is possible to utilize replication capabilities provided by the backend software (GeoServer and Postgresql).
Extendability has been a key design concept in development of Oskari.
The UI consists of a selection of modules, which can be configured to be used in an Oskari instance to provide the needed functionality.
The software can be customized to a specific purpose by creating a server extension. This technology makes it possible to add custom functionality or customize the UI of an Oskari instance without changing the core Oskari code. The customization process can be made fully automatic, so that it is simply run everytime the core software version is updated.
Open Standards and other Open Source software reused
Globally used stable open source software, such as OpenLayers, GeoServer and Postgresql are key components in Oskari.
Oskari is intended specifically for utilizing distributed spatial data infrastructures, such as the INSPIRE infrastructure. Compliance to standard OGC/ISO data APIs is therefore an extremely important feature of Oskari.
Currently, the software supports utilization of OGC CSW, WMS, WMS-T, WMTS, WFS and WFS-T. More standards support is in the roadmap. Further, there is support for ArcGIS rest API even though that is not an open standard, as many data providers use ESRI software.
Oskari has a dual license model, featuring both MIT and EUPL licenses. It is up to the stakeholder to select which license suits better for their needs.
Stakeholders within the Oskari community
Coordinator of the project is National Land Survey of Finland.
Members in the project steering group are the following:
City of Helsinki
City of Tampere
City of Turku
Finnish Transport Agency (Chair of steering group)
Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority
National Board of Antiquities
National Land Survey of Finland
Population Registrer Centre
Regional Council of Southwest Finland
In addition to the above, members of the project are the following:
Finnish Centre for Open Systems and Solutions
Finnish Transport Safety Agency
CGI Finland Ltd
Geological Survey of Finland
Lappeenranta University of Technology
Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences
Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Ministry of Environment
Nitor Creations Ltd
Open Knowledge Finland Association
Regional State Administrative Agencies
SC5 Online Ltd
The governance model will be adapted during 2017 to ensure compliance with OSGeo Project governance principles. The National Land Survey of Iceland has committed to join the governing body as the first non-Finnish organization. Other international members are expected to join later on.
Sustainability of the project
The National Land Survey of Finland has chosen Oskari platform as a strategic service component for e-services and NLS FI is mandated by law to offer the Embedded Map Services for Public Administration.
Oskari Network has 32 members and the number of organisations reusing Oskari platform is increasing. The Network has a governance document, which describes the collaborative development model. In a few months, the Network will initiate the incubation phase to become an official Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) Project.
Thanks to the number of existing implementations the software is under constant maintenance and development by not only the National Land Survey of Finland, but also a number of other organizations.
The National Land Survey of Finland has chosen Oskari platform as a strategic service component for e-services.
The Oskari Network has a governance document, which describes the current collaborative development model. As the coordinator of Oskari Network the National Land Survey of Finland is responsible for core software architecture and roadmap, integration of new features into trunk, publishing new releases, maintaining documentation and code repositories and some communications activities. The governance model is currently under revision due to the OSGeo process and will become even more community oriented and collaborative during 2017.
It is possible to create issues in the public GitHub repository of the project, where the whole community can see them. As part of OSGeo incubation process, an email list will be launched. A twitter feed provides updates on the progress of Oskari development as well as news about new implementations.
The source code is available on GitHub and the documentation in English is at www.oskari.org. A prebuilt and preconfigured Jetty package can be downloaded at oskari.org for experimenting with the software. Several software companies are members of Oskari Network and they are ready to support configuring and extending the Oskari platform with new customers.