The web application for MSP developed in the framework of the BaltSeaPlan project and based on Boundary-GIS Geoportal is a supporting tool which should facilitate stakeholder involvement. The application allows any kind of stakeholder to view the current planning status of an area and comment upon them. The user can do so without any specific computer knowledge.
The BaltSeaPlan Web tool was developed in the framework of the BaltSeaPlan project. It was applied in the Pärnu Bay pilot MSP process for integrating fisheries.
Aspects / Objectives
The BaltSeaPlan Web has been designed to
- Capture the knowledge for later (identifying and mapping spatial resources and competing human uses)
- To communicate the knowledge captured in an understandable manner
- To connect different social groups in the construction of new localised social arrangements while the negotiation of differences between different groups is fundamental to the construction of GIS technology based objects
The BoundaryGIS geoportal, which features the BaltSeaPlan web, is developed by the University of Tartu, Estonian Marine Institute with aim to facilitate the creation of various web applications in support of participatory processes. The BoundaryGIS is based on the template of Silverlight ESRI Showcase Map Application for Microsoft Visual Studio. Map layers are developed using ArcGIS Desktop and published on the ArcGIS Server. The Boundary-GIS geoportal as a complex system embraces GIS Server, Web Server(s) and the Client(s).
GIS Server is running the geo-database, which is supporting 1) feature classes (base layers, administrator’s layers, user’s layers and other graphics), 2) raster datasets (base layers, administrator’s layers, user’s layers and other graphics), 3) tables (attribute tables). GIS Server hosts Web Map Services (WMS) generated from the map documents (geo-database layers). Auxiliary database hosted on the Web Server is supporting 1) tables (authentication, users, groups, projects, scenarios etc), 2) stored procedures (managing the auxiliary tables). Web server gathers spatial information from the published WMS on the GIS servers (local/remote).
Client side of the geoportal is supporting administrator’s and the participant’s activities. Administrator is responsible for 1) user management (registering users and assigning users to the groups), 2) project creation and management (adding WMS and geo-processing services to the projects), 3) project customization (setting bookmarks, adjusting the visual state of the layers like visibility and transparency, creating map tips like comments and layer descriptions, adding and editing graphic objects, attaching documents to the layers/objects/comments), 4) creation profiles for the analytical tools (spatial queries for specific attributes of layers, tools for measurement and counting, search tools).
Important task of the BoundaryGIS geoportal is to support the creation of projects consisting of ordered list of different distributed services as well as the creation of scenarios of these projects. At a time the created projects are basically using the imported information from WMS.
It is assumed that the project’s resources are created and published by administrator as the WMS on the GIS server using a set of GIS Desktop programs and are added to the auxiliary database as Uniform Resource Locator (URL) addresses with additional necessary information. Different projects and communities of practice (groups) supported by the BoundaryGIS geoportal are visualized in a tree view. Assignment of users to projects and provision of services to them in general are done by the communities of practice themselves. Each community of practice has its own set of projects, members and map services assigned by the geoportal administrator or group administrator. The group members can open projects they are members of and to work with a set of map services assigned to the group concerned. Group members can also create their own scenarios of the project they are assigned to, edit the presentation of map services, add their own graphic layers with graphic objects, make comments, assign images and attach documents to the features/graphic objects/comments/.
The BoundaryGIS database is structured in such a way that the user with administrative role can separately create community of practice groups, projects, can register users and save URL addresses and layer information of map services. Using the assignment tool administrator can assign several users, projects and map services to the group. For example, if the user is assigned to a group it means that all projects and services which are assigned to that group become available to him.
Web services hosted on the Web Server enable the connection between Client and auxiliary database.
BoundaryGIS Geoportal supports all standard tools to work with map, such as: map navigation, scaling, and measurement. It provides the tools for displaying, hiding, and setting transparency of the map layers as well as for search, identification and spatial query.
Main Outputs / Results
The BaltSeaPlan Web application built on the framework of the BoundaryGIS geoportal proved to be an efficient tool in supporting the Maritime Spatial Planning related public participation events. University of Tartu, Estonian Marine Institute is planning to keep the BaltSeaPlan Web application running also after the BaltSeaPlan Project will come to an end. It is planned also that BaltSeaPlan Project Partners can freely use this web application under condition that the software source is duly acknowledged.
The BaltSeaPlan Web architecture and the functionalities reflect the modern concept of a web based distributed databases that are not stored at a single physical location but spread across a network of computers that are geographically dispersed and connected via communications links. Each “parent” node of the distributed database network can further be based on the “child” nodes of the distributed databases. The distributed system allows faster local queries and can reduce network traffic while it looks like a centralized system to the user.
The BaltSeaPlan Web as a toolbox is of universal use in respect of geographical region and the Maritime Spatial Planning problem concerned because all the work is based on imported Web Map Services (WMS). It means that each time the set of the imported WMS map layers is completely determined by the geographical region and the task in question. However, the quality of the information used is the full responsibility of the WMS publishers.
The BaltSeaPlan Web supports all standard tools like map navigation, scaling, and measurement. It provides the tools for displaying, hiding, and setting transparency of the map layers as well as for search, identification and spatial query. At the national level the WMS map layers have the Map Legends usually in corresponding national language (e.g. WMS map layers published by Estonian Land Board have the Map Legends in Estonian language). However, the English language is used when WMS are published at the international level (ICES, HELCOM).
The BaltSeaPlan Web architecture is following the social science concept of collaborative, participatory processes with objectives: (1) to capture the knowledge for later use (identifying and mapping spatial resources and competing human uses), (2) to communicate the knowledge captured so it is easy to understand for other stakeholders (sense-making/communication), and (3) to connect different social groups in the construction of new localized social arrangements while the negotiation of differences between different groups is fundamental to the construction of GIS technology based boundary objects. BaltSeaPlan Web serves as the ‘‘participatory GIS” platform using argumentation maps as an object based model for geographically referenced discussions that support the deliberative aspects in spatial decision-making.
Stakeholder discussions can be efficiently supported by the argumentation map layers’ visualization using the BaltSeaPlan Web. However, the final result of the Maritime Spatial Planning related public participation events is largely determined by the social science based methodology used (mutual learning, collaborative negotiations, learning-by-doing-and-seeing, design with nature and other similar methodologies).
The tool can be adapted for digitally visualising planning scenarios in other contexts.
University of Tartu
Email: robert.apsut.ee (robert[dot]aps[at]ut[dot]ee)
Phone: +37 26718942
University of Tartu
The development the BaltSeaPlan Web and its application in the Pärnu Bay pilot MSP process were financed by the Baltic Sea Region Programme.