Open Source, Cloud Server Wildland
In recent years GIS
and web technologies have advanced to allow the sharing of geospatial
data on the web. Land management agencies sometimes have a need
to simply post GIS datasets on the web without requiring advanced
GIS modeling capabilities on the server. There are many products
available to serve geospatial datasets on the web, but many of
these have a complicated setup, costly license fees, and provide
more capabilities than are needed for some users. There is also
a need to simplify web server setup. The map we have built is
an example of an inexpensive and simple solution for agencies
to post and share GIS data on the web using open source map servers
and open source GIS clients deployed on a virtual cloud server.
The USDA Forest Service
and other public land management agencies often compile and generate
geospatial data as a result of their research and activities.
Making this data available to the public is often hindered by
a lack of web and map servers inside the agency. When the servers
are available, they often require GIS expertise to set up and
maintain. Some of the more popular map servers, while providing
advanced geoprocessing capabilities, have high annual license
fees. The need to post geospatial data continues to grow as Federal
land management agencies grapple with wide ranging social and
ecological issues with stakeholders and other interested external
One potential solution
to streamline the sharing of geospatial data under the current
information policy is through the use of cloud computing and open
source map servers. The federal government is encouraging the
use of cloud computing by its agencies by launching the General
Services Administration?s cloud storefront Apps.gov. This online
storefront enhances how the government leverages technology by
enabling federal agencies to acquire and purchase cloud computing
services in an efficient, effective manner.
We have built a cloud
server based map server solution for the USDA Forest Service Western
Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center (WWETAC). One
of our goals is to build a system for users to view existing geospatial
data layers of wildland threats to examine spatial intersections
of multiple threats with high value resources such as critical
wildlife habitat, wildland urban interfaces, and other human and
ecological values. Additionally, the system allows users to connect
to other internet map services available on the web.
The open source cloud
map displays in your web browser without software installation
required. This map uses the open source GeoServer application
for the map server. The web browser application is built using
open source software such as OpenLayers and GeoExt. The application
The map server is hosted in the Amazon cloud using an EC2 virtual
Mercator Map (non customizable)
This map requires no
login but does not allow you to create your own custom map by
adding or removing map layers. It contains all layers provided
by the GeoServer map server and also several Bing Map base layers.
This map uses the EPSG 900913 ('Spherical Mercator') spatial reference,
which is commonly used by commercial providers such as Google
Maps®, Microsoft Virtual Earth® (Bing Maps®), Yahoo
The customizable map
includes tools to add additional layers from other map servers
on the web. It requires a login in order to identify you for retrieving
and saving your own custom map. It uses the EPSG:4326 (latitude/longitude
based on the WGS84 datum) spatial reference. This is the most
widely supported spatial reference system for non commercial providers
and makes it possible to add layers from these providers to the
map. A sample customizable map is provided for users to try without
the need to login. The sample map is fully functional except changes
to the map cannot be saved.
Source Cloud Map User Guide
(pdf 507 kb) - A complete user guide for both maps.
Map Tutorial (pdf 1003 kb) - To help you get started, follow
this step by step tutorial for creating a custom map.
Description - A technical description of the system design.
System Setup Instructions - Documentation describing how
to set up a similar system.