Photography by:
  • Amanda van der Walt & Gareth Pon

GCRO GIS website (2010)

  • Complete

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.

In 2013/2014 there was an urgent need to upgrade the website, for a number of reasons. 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 was a serious concern in terms of online access to GCRO’s data, as the shift from PCs/laptops to mobile computing devices gained 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 original (Flex) GIS website was updated in August 2014 to remove the Google maps API. 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.


Current GCRO GIS website (not accessible on Chrome browsers)

First generation GIS website

Data is key to understanding and visualising trends in the Gauteng City-Region (GCR). A significant spatial and non-spatial database was in the first phase of GCRO’s establishment and initial 3-year strategic plan, through the negotiation of access to, and acquiring of GIS data from, a variety of public and private sector sources. The data formed the basis of number of research projects, such as the urban space economy, OECD Territorial Review of the GCR, intersection between sustainability and disaster vulnerability, green assets and infrastructures, understanding spatial change in the GCR and the peripheries and rural/urban transitions project.

The GCRO GIS website was developed as an interactive tool to assist both local and provincial governments, to better understand the Gauteng City-Region and make informed decisions about development in the GCR. The GCRO GIS website provided public access to the data where the spatial data remains available to be viewed and overlaid on all the other GIS layers within the website. The first generation website was officially launched on 1 September 2010.

The development of the GCRO GIS website included data and data themes that animate spatial change across Gauteng from 1991 to 2009 (using land cover data derived from Brian Mubiwa's PhD work at the University of Johannesburg) and an environmental data theme hosted on behalf of the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD). The 50 priority wards theme contained the results of the 50 priority wards project in the form of an interactive table and dynamic maps, as a unique theme in the GCRO GIS viewer.

In response to user requests, the website was upgraded to incorporate new functionality. A few of the key enhancements included: a blank base layer; an OpenStreetMap base layer; a screen print option; an option to download graph data into an .csv file and Google Street view tool.


Wray, C., & Van Olst, R. (2012) ‘Enabling g-government in the Gauteng City-Region’, African Journal of Information and Communication. 12.

Wray, C. (2011) ‘Promoting g-government in the Gauteng City-Region’, PositionIT. September 2012.

Wray, C. (2011) ‘Developing a Web 2.0 GIS website for the Gauteng City-Region’, Zawww: Annual Conference on WWW Applications. September 2011.

Van Olst, R & Wray, C. (2011) ‘Maximising User Acceptance as the underlying strategy for the development of an Interactive Website for South Africa’s Citizens’, IEEE Africon 2011 Conference Proceedings, Zambia. September 2011.

Last updated: 13 October 2017.


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