Fisheries and Oceans Canada

MNP enhances data management to bolster efficiency within Geographic Information System.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has a large portfolio of properties, including: light houses, Coast Guard bases, aids to navigation (lights, ranges), docks and wharfs and harbours. Some of them are contaminated with pollutants. DFO has a contaminated site program to remediate these sites. To improve delivery of the contaminated site program, the agency needed to provide staff — many of them without GIS (geographic information system) experience — with a spatial view of DFO properties and sites.

In addition, this spatial capability needed to be delivered over the DFO Intranet, needed to be bilingual and needed to include the ability to:

  • Locate and zoom to sites
  • Display internal (published by DFO) and external (from other sources) web map services
  • Access business data, site photos, documentation through the map interface

Finally, DFO has a vast amount of aerial imagery of sites going back to the 1940’s. The agency needs the ability to use this imagery to view changes over time. DFO also has access to all the marine charts in Canada and needs to provide access to them in an organized way.

A goal of the project was also to make use of as many external GIS web services as possible from provincial, federal and local governments, as well as private sources such as BING Imagery; Bing Address Search; ESRI Base maps; NOAA and Environment Canada Weather data.

The Challenge

The key challenges were to organize all the data, provide easy-to-use, seamless access to non-GIS users and distribute the imagery data so users could realize the benefits of the data without the burden of managing myriad data layers or engaging in complex navigation through the system.

The Approach

The solution is based on MNP’s highly configurable viewer/data manager tool. The tool doesn’t need any coding to add in new data sources. It includes a management tool that allows administrators to control access to map services and to organize map galleries. The solution provides access to a large, multi-year imagery database, provides “change-over-time” image viewing capability and includes a configurable sophisticated query tool with free text search.

The solution is essentially a “small footprint” infrastructural component for enterprise spatial data management which can provide a curated and managed user experience with managed access to external data sources and configurable layer management. Any tabular data that has a geo-referenced link can easily be plugged in. DFO is considering this application to be the front end to several internal systems. The solution also allows for image data to be downloaded from within application workflow.

The solution architecture includes ESRI ArcGIS Server and ESRI Image Server Extension (used to serve mosaic imagery – built with Python scripts – and to allow for change over time analysis). The application was developed using the ESRI JavaScript API. It is a HTML 5 / JavaScript Compatible, ASP.NET MVC 4 browser-based application. The system was developed using Visual Studio 2012.

The Result

To provide a more organized and effective user experience, it was important to simplify navigation and data discovery and provide powerful query capability in a familiar format. Users were enthusiastic about:

  • Pre-configured map galleries
  • Pre-configured layer categories
  • Dynamic “change-over-time” tool
  • Google-like free text search and spatial filters