Category Archives: geonode

Wilderness 3d: The Canary Islands wilderness

Wilderness on Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain.

Wilderness on Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain.

Like many other Europeans I have had my share of visits to the Canary Islands (three and counting). The climate is decent from February until November. Some even like it in December and January. Most of us go to the Canary Islands for sunbathing, for long walks, to swim, spend time with friends or just get away from it all.

Few, if any, go to the Canary Islands for the wilderness. In this article I will be looking at your options if you were interested in getting away from people in the Canary Islands. It is not easy, but it is possible. If you are looking for wilderness in the Canary Islands I would suggest going to Lanzarote. Parque National de Timanfaya is the easiest accessible wilderness area.

The above map is based on publicly available vector data from the OpenStreetMap-project covering the Canary Islands. A wilderness analysis based on insufficient data will only represent a map of more or less mapped areas. In this case the basis for the analysis is decent. There will still be many errors.

The analysis has not in any way been sanctioned by Spanish authorities. It will not be used by the authorities and the audience (GIS geeks) of this posting is anyway quite limited.

The criterias used to map the wilderness areas based on OpenStreetMap in the Canary Islands are as follows:

  • Roads: primary, secondary, tertiary, unclassified, motorway, trunk
  • Land use: industrial, reservoir, military, farmland, residential, orchard, commercial, quarry, farmland and salt_pond
  • Railways
  • Waterways: canal

Like it or not – the presented map is what you get.

Uganda QGIS and remote sensing workshop

qgisThis week I had the privilege of coordinating a workshop on QGIS and remote sensing in Kampala, Uganda. Our trainers were Thomas Ballatore and Shane Bradt. We were very pleased with their walkthroughs and presentations of crucial software and plugins. The training is part of the Norwegian Oil for Development Program.

The focus was of course QGIS. But to be hones BEAM Visat was a real eye-opener. Yes, I have been introduced to the software while working in an expert group on satellite imagery. We earlier this year concluded a report for the Norwegian Space Centre where BEAM Visat was mentioned as one of several crucial components for handling remote sensing data. But – the workshop provided an applied context which gave me a whole new perspective to both software and methods.

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Skandinavias midtpunkt – et sted i Norge

skandinavias midtpunktHvor er midtpunktet i Skandinavia? Dette er et spørsmål som dukket opp i familien for et par år siden. Min bror har en hytte i Rendalen og mente at hytta måtte ligge ganske nær Skandinavias midtpunkt? Rett eller galt? Familiens geograf tok saken.

Siden jeg kan litt om kart og geografiske informasjonssystemer (GIS) var det ikke så vanskelig å finne ut av det. Den metoden jeg valgte er bare en av mange mulige. Denne posten forteller litt om hvordan jeg løste oppgaven.

For de som ser etter et turmål kan Skandinavias midtpunkt være et fint et. Jeg kan allerede nå røpe at Skandinavias midtpunkt ligger i Trysil kommune. Det ligger ca 1080 meter fra nærmeste veg. Nærmeste hus ligger noen få meter nærmere.

Når det gjelder min brors hytte er det litt for langt unna til at man kan ta spasertur til midtpunktet fra hytta.

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Clearinghouse for the environment – the girders (II)

In February 2012 I wrote about “Environmental Spatial Data Infrastructure” on this blog. Later that year the case complex matured somewhat and in August I wrote the posting “Clearinghouse for the environment – the scaffolding (I)“.

Since then I have together with my colleagues had the opportunity to test systems in full scale by contributing to the implementation of clearinghouses in partner countries.

Last time I showed how a stack consisting a hardware layer with vmWare as one of the basic modules could form the basis of an environmental spatial data infrastructure. In some ways this was a rather optimistic setup.

A stack of hardware and software which could become very usefull...

Some of our main challenges with the above set up was maintenance of physical equipment. So we removed that layer. Maintaining a complex setup with a virtual machine environment, or getting access to local environments proved in general to be difficult. So we ditched it.

To get the systems running we needed:

  • Shared access to the systems for administrative purposes
  • A flexible backup-system
  • An option to duplicate successful setups
  • Scalability
  • High availability
  • Flexible security system

Other things we considered important

  • The system should not tie our partners up in future licensing costs
  • Compliance to central standards
  • An option for partners to move the systems to physical infrastructure if necessary
  • Option to keep traffick outside our own company networks – since they are de-facto external systems paid for by external partners

As you all can see in all a lot of considerations which we had to relate to.

AWS_LOGO_CMYK-588x214Since internet access across borders in any case would be relevant for retrieving external map layers we started looking at how we could use Amazon services. I already had experience in running virtual macines using Amazon EC2. Amazon helped us out with many of the issues mentioned above. So in short we moved the whole setup to Amazon. The following figure illustrates the setup.


In addition to the components relying on EC2 we have also found that using Amazon Simple Storage (S3) for storing survey data of some size could be a good ide. S3 allows the user to distribute files using “secure” links and even using the bit-torrent protocol for files up to 5 Gb.

We now have one such system built up and under testing. It looks good but as always the technology is but a small part of the equation. Establishing information flows, using standards etc represents the major parts of a national envoronmental spatial data infrastructure.

Should the need arise to develop custom made solutions it should be possible to add more virtual machines in the setup.


Given that our partners find this setup trustworthy we will probably suggest this as an entry level spatial data infrastructure for environmental data.

WordPress directly, and through countless plugins, supports many standards for embedding information. How information should flow between the different systems in this setup has been given some thought. I will try to elaborate on this in a later posting – hopefully in less than two years time.

Integrating the OGC WMS getcapabilities information in WordPress (iframe)

wms_tools_codeOver the last two years I have worked with WordPress as a content management system for several projects. WordPress has proved to be a flexible platform for publishing documents, files in general, imagery and maps. There was one thing missing though. I wanted to be able to list map layers available on a given wms-server.

To solve this I have now made a small php-script which allows the user to integrate server capabilities information from a geoserver based WMS-server. The code is a work in progress and does admittedly have some shortcomings.

The feature would not be possible without wms-parser.php and Openlayers. Continue reading

Timor Leste – environmental data review workshop

The 6th of March as part of the Norwegian Petroleum Assistance Program together with DNMA I contributed to a workshop to be held at the Arbiru Hotel in Dili, Timor Leste. The intended outcome was to contribute to a process for establishing better handling of environmental data. The workshop was opened by his Excellency Sr. Abilio de Deus de Jesus Lima, State Secretary for the Environment. Continue reading

Environmental Spatial Data Infrastructure – technology

Maubissie in Timor-LesteEstablishing the basics for handling environmental spatial data relies on proper organization of the data into repositories where it is stored and prepared for dissemination. This article points to how such a structure could be made using geoserver, geonetwork, WordPress, Geonode, Postgis and Linux. All modules has been chosen because of being open source. As a consequence this constellation is an excellent starting point for establishing thematic data infrastructures in developing countries. As it is, the infrastructure below would not be possible without the support of contributors like the WorldBank and OpenGeo.

Will the suggested infrastructure can do the job. And if it does, how is it used by the human/organisational part of the equation? The answers to latter are beyond the scope of this article. This time I will try to answer the first question – and thus look at the technical sides of it. Continue reading