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Duncan Smith
University College London
Web 2.0
Many aspects and interpretations.
Partly about style, buzzwords…
Ideas and aspirations behind the style‐
• Creation of rich interactive web applications
• Building online communities, online social networking
• User contributed content
• Sharing data/ free open access
• Collective intelligence, ’crowd‐sourcing’
• ‘Long tail’ business model
• Technical standards and approaches‐ AJAX, SOAP etc, distributed web services Rapid development and integration of Web 2.0 and geographical technologies‐
webmapping, mash‐ups, LBS etc. Why is space important online?
Why ‘Where?’ matters on the web
The Geoweb
Space can be used as a fundamental approach to organising information. The Geoweb is a vision of all spatial data being integrated and accessible online. Some information services strongly spatial (mapping, business search etc.),
while many others can be augmented with spatial context (encyclopaedias, social networking, applications in academic research).
Internet companies competing to be the lead spatial web portal, and control growing market of spatial searching. Effectively ‘arms race’ between Google and Microsoft. Massive investment and innovation.
Google Maps‐ the de facto Geoweb?
Google Maps first released in 2005. Fantastic innovation including‐
• Global to local topographic and satellite mapping together online for first time.
• Free to access.
• Easy to use interface
• API released for user created mapping.
• Continually added to with more features‐ business searching, travel planning, ‘My Maps’, ‘Street View’…
Spatial ‘glue’ to stick together Location Based Services e.g. now key feature on mobiles such as iPhone. Does Google Maps match the Geoweb Vision?
• Issues concerning data ownership, open source standards, future advertising…
• Lacking tools to allow researchers to share and analyse more complex spatial data.
Academic Perspectives on the Geoweb
Lots of disciplines engage with geographic information, wealth of data‐
• geography, planning, demography, economics, statistics, ecology, geology, sociology, ethnography, criminology, archaeology…
Many datasets benefitting from online visualisation and access‐
• UK national datasets increasingly online
• Standardisation improving through OGC
Remains difficult for researchers to easily share their own spatial data.
• Often need your own web server and software.
• Specialist GIS and web programming knowledge required.
• Lack of tools with the intuitive ease of use of Web 2.0, public engagement, online communities.
• Google maps and similar don’t offer basic GIS functionality.
New tools needed to expand online spatial data capabilities for researchers
The GeoVUE Project
GeoVUE project part of NCeSS. Mission to develop free web‐based technologies and software for the social sciences.
At CASA new GIS applications developed for 2D and 3D web mapping
and urban visualisation.
Software tools
GMap Creator
Image Cutter
NCeSS, digitalurban, LondonProfiler, gisagents
Related Work
NCeSS Nodes‐ online modelling with MoSeS, GENeSIS
Spatial Literacy
GMapCreator creates thematic map websites from GIS data, overlayed on Google Maps.
Visualisation and data sharing tool for large datasets, with geographical context provided by the basemap.
Straightforward to use and does not require a server and web programming knowledge.
Making a Map with GMapCreator
Example Application‐ The London Profiler
Platform on which public sector data can be displayed and searched through a common interface. Includes demographic, health, ethnicity, transport and deprivation data. Used mainly by local government and the health sector.
Application by Maurizio Gibin, CASA and UCL Geography.
Applications: Spatial Literacy & Outreach
London Profiler
Applications: Spatial Literacy & Outreach
London Profiler – IMD
Applications: Spatial Literacy & Outreach
London Profiler – Multicultural Atlas
Applications: Spatial Literacy & Outreach
London Profiler – Multicultural Atlas
Applications: Spatial Literacy & Outreach
London Profiler –
Example Application‐ The London Profiler
MapTube website
MapTube is an easy to use website for sharing maps created with GMapCreator. Web 2.0 approach to building a spatial research community.
Maps can be overlayed and transparency altered to compare data visually. Existing maps can be searched and combined, and users can login to upload new maps.
Uploading to MapTube
The Image Cutter Tool
Also possible to share any image based data using similar approaches. Image Cutter tool takes any image or digital photo and cuts it into tiles displayed on a Google Map. Large images can be published on the web in a format that allows the user to pan and zoom using the standard Google Maps interface.
Wide variety of applications including urban panoramas, very high resolution microscopic imaging, art history visualisation. Example from the Homer Multitext Library
Beyond Google‐ OpenStreetMap and OpenLayers
Software tools based around Google Maps. Ideally should have greater flexibility, options of open source data.
Expanded flexibility of MapTube using OpenLayers
software. Can be used to integrate wide range of standards‐ GML, KML, WMS, WFS…
Great example of user generated content. Topographic mapping for much of the world created by mapping enthusiasts using GPS data. Less restrictive copyright than Google or Ordnance Survey. For UK comprehensive and sufficiently accurate for many applications.
Expanding the Maptube Concept
Crowd sourcing‐
– Potential to use online mapping for visualising spatial surveys.
Greater interactivity with clickable thematic maps
3D Mapping in Second Life and Google Earth
Mapping the Credit Crunch for BBC Radio 4 iPM
BBC Radio 4
Change over
Spatial Surveys Comments
Proof of concept. Great potential to expand ideas of interactive
spatial surveys. Temporal as well as spatial information provided.
Expanding use in other contexts e.g. getting feedback on geodemographic datasets. Best example OpenStreetMap
discussed earlier.
Issues with sampling‐ who are online users? Who most likely to contribute? And need more rigorous approach to format of survey.
Web GIS and Interactivity
Manchester Congestion Charge
Attribute Data
Display Tile
Feature Tile
(links every pixel to a unique feature ID code)
Feature XML File
(one for every feature)
3D Visualisation in Google Earth and Second Life
3D Urban Environments in Google Earth
Sharing urban panoramas
Second Life as an interface to Geographical Information
Many innovations allowing spatial research to be shared online, such as the tools developed for GeoVUE. Many applications, strong public interest when well implemented.
Not quite reached the fully integrated vision of the GeoWeb yet, but getting closer. Web 2.0 concepts and open source standards helping to achieve this goal. More effort needed to widen community beyond geographical experts.
Some GIS software currently still needed to produce maps. Next stage likely to be full creation of maps online without GIS software, further widening users. Blurring of amateur‐expert users creates opportunities and problems (‘lies, damn lies and statistics…’). Projects to address this such as
Ideas from GeoVUE being continued into GENeSIS project, expanding web visualisation to incorporate modelling and simulation.
Where to find out more…
Thank you for listening! Welcome comments and questions.
To find out more and try out the tools for yourself‐
Software tools programmed by Richard Milton at CASA. Can be downloaded at:
GeoVUE at CASA led by Prof Mike Batty and Dr Andrew Hudson‐Smith. Andy’s work viewable at: