• ABOUT WEB MAPS •
"Web map" is a generic term for geographic information systems that run on the Internet. Web maps do not depend on locally-installed GIS software. Instead, the user accesses the hosts spatial databases through a web browser (Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, etc.). In terms of power and complexity, web maps range from simple data viewers to applications that have serious analytical capability.
Web mapping application whose primary function is data distribution are discussed in the download portals section of the website.
Data viewers allow users to link to the host organization's spatial databases, manipulate layers to compose an informative display and print simple maps. Data download capability, if present, is limited to small excerpts from the host organizations databases. Here are some examples:
- Brown County Land Information site allows viewing of a variety of basemaps and includes a nice selection of data layers. Beginners can learn a lot about the basics of geographic information systems by becoming thoroughly familiar with the site.
- RR SITES MAP (Wisconsin DNR) provides information about contaminated properties and other activities related to the investigation and cleanup of contaminated soil or groundwater. It's an example of a viewer with some limited data download capability.
Web Mapping Applications With Analytical Capability
Some applications are not limited to displaying spatial data. High-end applications can accept instructions from the user, perform mathematical and/or spatial analysis and return results. Here are some examples:
- MapQuest and Google Maps are familiar web maps that produce customized route information and printable maps.
- Natural Resources Conservation Service Web Soil Survey allows users to define a modest-sized Area of Interest and retrieve soil data from NRCS databases.
- Esri Community Analyst is a "Software as a Service" (SaaS) product that allows subscribers to define a location of interest and generate demographic and economic data from a large selection of data reporting services. Subscriptions to Community Analyst are quite expensive as you might expect for a high-end business and marketing tool. At UW-Green Bay, we have access to Community Analyst via our Educational Site License.