About the HELCOM Map and data Service
The main objective of the HELCOM map and data service is to make environmental information accesible for interested users and the general public. The map and data service aims to be easy to use, intuitive and attractive, with a similar look and feel as Google Maps, Bing Maps, etc.
The new map and data service in based on ESRI's ArcGIS Server and Flex development platform. Through the HELCOM map and data service, users are able to:
- Visualize, analyze and search Baltic Sea environmental data.
- Draw and save or print your own maps.
- Download ESRI shape files
- Access layers in OGC WMS standard protocol
What's new in the map service
The main change compared to previous map and data services provided via the HELCOM website is in the visualization. There is a brand new way for navigating and accessing information from the map. All icons are placed at the top of the site and you can see all the sub-menus just by placing your mouse on the icons. This icons open the so called widgets on the right side of the map which contain all the information.
Another significant change is that we have joined all former GIS maps service (MARIS, Nutrient GIS, marine spatial planning GIS, coastal fish monitoring metadatabase GIS, COMBINE monitoring GIS and Data delivery service) into one single service. This solution makes it easier to combine and analyze data. Note that most of the data previously displayed in the MARIS service is now included in a folder called 'Shipping'. Similarly, thematic data from other earlier map services are now located in thematic folders in the map and data service. Background datasets with interesting marine and terrestrial information that have previously be displayed in almost all the thematic maps, are now included in under the folder 'Background'.
As concerns the previously know service 'Maritime Spatial Planning', the information is now divided in different thematic folders.
Downloading of GIS shape files is considerably easier via the new map and data service. The new HELCOM map and data service also provides OGC compliant Web Map Services (WMS) so that you can access available layers from your own GIS software.
The new map service has been built on ESRI's ArcGIS Server and Flex, an Adobe development platform based on Adobe Flash Player client. Building a map service with Flex has several advantages as:
- the development process is relatively straight forward
- it is easy to deploy applications
- it is well integrated with ArcGIS Server
End users of the HELCOM map and data service need to have Adobe Flash Player installed. According to Adobe, Flash player is installed in 99% of computers. Note, however, that if you need to install Flash Player on your computer you need administrator rights. Ask your IT Administrator for more details. The latest version of flash is needed if you want to take advantage of all the functionalities of the service, such as saving drawings or downloading layers.
The service is designed as a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), i.e., ArcGIS Server must be running and exposing services. All transactions between Flash Player client and ArcGIS Server happens via a REST based service endpoint. Since Flash is a client platform only the requests to ArcGIS Server leave the client.
The HELCOM map and data service is the result of numerous activities and projects that have compiled data and supported with the technical developments at the HELCOM Secretariat.
The use of web-based GIS map services in HELCOM began in 2004 with the publication of the Maritime Accident Response Information System (MARIS). The development of the MARIS system was funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers and carried out by the Finnish Environment institute, SYKE. Since the coming about of MARIS, several other interactive web-based map services have been developed and published on the HELCOM website, including thematic map services covering nutrient pollution, coastal fish monitoring, HELCOM COMBINE marine monitoring and more recently, in 2009, marine spatial planning (developed with the financial assistance of the European Union (HELCOM SCALE, Project 21.0401/2007/485831/SUB/D2)).
As technology has advanced and the needs of HELCOM have evolved, the need to migrate from an ArcIMS based system to an ArcGIS server platform became evident. The limitations of have numerous different thematic maps was recognized, as the well the need for a more flexible map service, allowing users to more freely select map layers of interest, draw maps and even download datasets.
The development of the new HELCOM map and data service has been made possible by the work of the HELCOM project Development of HELCOM Data and Geographic Information System which is funded by the Nordic Council of Minsters during 2009-2010.
About the data
The data that is available through the HELCOM map and data service has been compiled through various different sources. A large amount of work carried out by different HELCOM groups, experts, projects as well as HELCOM Secretariat staff has contributed to the broad selection of data now available. Also data produced by other organizations and projects are displayed via the map service.
Some data layers can be viewed but not downloaded. This is the case for datasets developed and regularly updated by organizations other than the HELCOM. In some cases data can also not be made available for download due to copyright restrictions.
Because some of the datasets are regularly updated and to avoid the spreading of old versions of datasets, it is adviseable for users to not forward data they have downloaded from the HELCOM service to a third party, but to rather refer other interested users to the HELCOM website. Note that you can accessing HELCOM GIS datasets in your desktop software via a web map service (WMS) connection, ensuring you always have the latest data versions.
The development of the HELCOM map and data service has been supported by:
EU funded HELCOM SCALE project (Project 21.0401/2007/485831/SUB/D2).
Last updated: 1 February 2011