National Mapping Agencies and the World Wide Web



Leaflet index :






The World Wide Web (WWW) is to play a prominent role in the National, if not Global Geodata Infrastructure, which aims at a networking of commonly used base data sets. Of all data supplied, geographic base data form the framework for most application-oriented data. This ITC research project investigates how well prepared the traditional providers of these framework data, the National Mapping Agencies (NMAs), are in their use of the WWW. This inventory is compared with todayís interactive and dynamic cartographic options the WWW has to offer.



Geodata Infrastructure on the web

Any organisation that uses geoinformation needs easy access to their own data as well as externally retrievable data by means of a solid Geodata Infrastructure, following standard documentation guidelines to describe the essential meta-information.

The World Wide Web is likely to become the backbone for most Geodata Infrastructures, since it already provides a network between organisations and allows transport of large quantities of data. On the WWW data producing organisations can:

At ITC the conditions of such a Geodata Infrastructure will be simulated in various case studies for educational, research and consulting purposes, in cooperation with various data producing and data using organisations in the Netherlands.



Publishing your maps on the web

How can maps be put on the WWW? An important distinction is made between static and dynamic maps. Examples are the static presentation with the map as index to other information or just as sample of paper map products. Dynamic options include different kinds of animations as well as VRML-solutions. Researchers at ITC have experience with developing this complete range of web map products, which has resulted in a short course in Web Cartography (next course: early in 2000). Examples of web maps can be found at:



NMA website considerations

Next to some basic contact information and an overview of the organisational structure of the NMA, the website should present the supply driven products that are on offer: covering both the analogue map series and the digital base data sets, next to the availability of, for instance, (online) gazetteers.

There could be an option for on line ordering of printed maps on demand for a user-specified map window, and which contains only those map features that the user requires.

The website can pay attention to the line of (consulting) services which the NMA is capable to deliver on demand or cross-refer to other institutes or companies that provide such services using NMA data sets.

The website could also pay attention to possible products based on NMA data that may be widely in use in the near future, in a way that attracts potential customers who are not yet fully aware what NMA data have on offer for them. A demonstration of such an advanced visualisation could be a flyby through a virtual reality environment providing user interaction with the underlying database. At this very moment such a sample will mostly likely perform an entertaining factor on the website for most visitors, but at the same time it is of special interest for researchers who are working on virtual 3D environments and who can use the digital topographic base data as the framework of their information systems.



Inventory of NMA websites

The project makes an inventory of existing NMA websites and, for instance, evaluates the use of web maps as interface to the organisationís products. Additionally, the potentials of the web for future applications are explored and illustrated by case studies on the projectís website. The progress of the project will be reported on this website: An extensive version of the paper on this project (Kraak & Hootsmans, 1999) can be downloaded from the website.

Kraak, M.J. & R.M. Hootsmans (1999). National Mapping Organisations and the World Wide Web, challenges and opportunities. In Proceedings ICA 1999 Conference, Ottawa, Canada.

Last changes: 2 August, 2000
Comments & questions: Rob Hootsmans (
ITC, Division Geoinformatics, Cartography and Visualisation
P.O. Box 6, 7500 AA Enschede, The Netherlands