GeoGratis Portal Architecture

Natural Resources Canada - Mapping Information Branch

Natural Resources Canada’s Mapping Information Branch (MIB) maintains Canada’s topographic basemap information, which includes a digital elevation model, cultural content such as built-up areas, roads, rail, and structures, physical geographic information such as shorelines, lakes, rivers, mountain ranges, and named places, and scientific maps and publications from the Geological Survey of Canada. MIB operates a data center in Sherbrooke, Quebec for the collection, production, and distribution of this information through the freely-accessible Geogratis portal. Geogratis provides access to information through a searchable catalog, with download provided through an FTP service, or web map integration through a series of image and vector mapping services exposing the Web Map Server (WMS) interface specified by the Open Geospatial Consortium (www.opengeospatial.org).

Issue

MIB needed to reduce costs in operating their data center, including off-loading or reducing the bandwidth costs related to data download services. Spatial DNA was asked to develop an overall solution and system design that aligned MIB for future capabilities and needs. MIB had several development languages, a number of open-source and proprietary tools for delivering their services, and were also moving towards virtualized infrastructure for managing the data center operations.

Solution

Spatial DNA worked with the MIB team in Sherbrooke through several workshops to develop the system requirements, segregate system users into classes, and determine the overall architectural direction of the service. Spatial DNA performed an environment scan of similar organizations in Canada and the United States and developed the overall solution design. The solution design incorporated open-source tools from the OpenGeo Suite, while integrating proprietary tools from ESRI to support the government operations mandate. We worked with the data management team to develop user interface support for standard and mobile browsers, identify scalability issues, and create virtual profiles of systems to deploy in both virtual machine and virtual cloud environments.

Relationship

Spatial DNA maintains a close relationship with DM Solutions, the developer of several open source tools, MapSherpa, and On-Demand Map Printing. Spatial DNA worked jointly with DM Solutions in delivering the project to Natural Resources Canada MIB. DM Solutions has a long-standing relationship with MIB and has supported their system development efforts for a number of years.

Result

MIB has released Geogratis based upon the solution design provided by Spatial DNA and DM Solutions. The solution enables for the search, review, and download of raster and vector spatial information from the MIB data holdings. The work that Spatial DNA did is embedded behind the scenes of the site, simplifying the maintenance, development, and support for both internal government operations, and external users.