Photography by:
  • Gareth Pon

GIS website 2nd generation

Since its launch in 2010, the interactive GIS website has become a key feature of GCRO’s data systems; ensuring that together with the map of month outputs, spatial information on the Gauteng City-Region is publically accessible online. The GIS website has consistently received the most hits on the GCRO website and is utilised by government, NGOs, students and the general public.

For a number of reasons detailed below, there was an urgent need to upgrade the website. Firstly, the GIS website was developed using the open source Adobe Flex application framework and Google Maps Flash API (Application Programming Interface) – cutting edge technology at the time providing a dynamic, interactive Web 2.0 experience for the user. Since the original development there has however been a shift away from Adobe Flex/Flash, as a Flash plugin has to be installed to access the website and does not run on Apple iOS mobile devices, preventing access to the GIS website on iPads and iPhones. This is a serious concern in terms of online access to GCRO’s data, as the shift from PCs/laptops to mobile computing devices gathers momentum. Secondly, Google discontinued any further development or support of the Google Maps Flash API, with the API discontinued from 1 September 2014.

In the light of these concerns, an investigation was undertaken during the 2013/2014 financial year by GCRO in partnership with Esri South Africa and the Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) based at Wits, to determine the best development solution for the upgrade. The investigation revealed there is an international shift towards HTML 5/JavaScript (JS) and it was agreed to upgrade GCRO’s GIS website to an HTML 5/JavaScript application using the latest Esri WebApp Builder application.

The project will benefit GCRO and its stakeholders by expanding access to GCRO’s spatial data across the main browsers and devices (such as mobile phones and tablets) using the latest internet technology.

UPDATES

The original (Flex) GIS website was updated in August 2014 to remove the Google maps API.

In July 2014, the JCSE was appointed to develop the second generation HTML5/JS GIS website, with new GIS website launched at the end of June 2015. The new website can be now accessed from the main internet browsers across a range of devices and provides updated data and themes. The original flex website will still be available in parallel for a few months, before being discontinued.

OUTPUTS

New GCRO GIS website

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