Web-Based Open Source GIS Decision Support Tools: Explaining the Software Stack
Author: Aaron Racicot
As the analytical processing capabilities of software systems grow, so do the expectations of end users of those software systems. An ever increasing trend has emerged in the software domain to provide more functionality over the World Wide Web through web services. Web-based decision support tools are emerging as a viable solution to fulfill environmental management decision support needs, while addressing the desire for platform independent web-based interfaces. Managers of environmental systems are often held hostage to the lack of information about the very system they manage. While modeling techniques and capabilities continue to grow, the need for real-time decision support based on those models is no longer a wish, but instead a necessity. All of this has led to the confluence of web-based GIS technology with real-time modeling techniques.
This paper focuses on the creation of web-based decision support tools which utilize real-time GIS modeling and analysis to provide an enhanced capability to environmental managers. Specifically, we will focus on the use of a pilot software platform developed completely with Open Source tools, including many state-of-the-art Open Source GIS tools currently available. From the Linux kernel driving hardware support to server side GIS providing real-time analysis, we look at the tools needed to create a seamless experience for the end user in an interactive web-based decision support tool.
Finally, we present a case study of a new set of marine management tools called the OCEANSystem developed by Ecotrust, an environmental non-profit located in Portland, Oregon. The OCEANSystem integrates Open Source data management systems, server side GIS, custom models and scripts, and a web-based GIS front end. Through the integration of these disparate tools we have taken the first step toward supplying a new level of capability to marine environmental managers at very low cost. We will uncover the architecture and software stack of this pilot system as well as talk about the tangible benefits seen by end users of the system. We will also show that while this pilot has shown promise, there are very specific areas of work that still need to be completed to create a truly integrated Open Source GIS development environment capable of supplying decision support tools.
Racicot, A. (2006). Web-based Open Source GIS Decision Support Tools: Explaining the Software Stack. Proceedings of the iEMSs Third Biennial Meeting: "Summit on Environmental Modelling and Software". International Environmental Modelling and Software Society, Burlington, USA, July 2006. CD ROM. Internet: http://www.iemss.org/iemss2006/sessions/all.html