Open source based online map sharing to support real-time collaboration

Muhammad Atif Butt, Songnian Li


Collaboration is an important part of many tasks involving people from different organizations, in which maps often play a central role in informing and improving debates and facilitating decision making. Allowing groups to share and view maps and spatial images interactively over the Web in real-time not only provides an effective solution to decision makers, but also facilitates scientific and public debates with real-time geospatial information. A few tools have been developed using proprietary software approaches, e.g., PCI Geoconference. More recently, some efforts have been made using open map services to develop simple map sharing applications. However, little has been done on designing and developing such online tools based on open source. Further, a literature search indicates the lack of scientific publications on empirical studies of their practical applications.
This paper describes a study on using Open Source Geographical Information System (OSGIS) and mapping solutions to design and develop real-time map sharing applications, which rely on the data served through open map/data services with the option of integrating local data. The study focuses on not only real-time map (or geospatial information) sharing, but also the integration of other open source based groupware solutions. Existing open source solutions are evaluated for the design and development of various prototype collaborative map sharing tools. The prototype is applied in an online virtual public meeting space for initial usability studies. The paper also discusses the issues related to the design, data required to support better map sharing, and adoption of related standards.



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