UD Map: New online UD map unveiled


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10:33 a.m., Feb. 9, 2011----The University of Delaware online map, UD Map, has a new look, the result of an extensive collaboration between Information Technologies and the Office of Communications and Marketing.

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The updated map provides an integrated user-friendly interface, more map “layers” and information, collaborative features for keeping information up-to-date and systems that allow for external customization.

“UD Map is now more accurate, data-rich and easier to use. We also hope that it will be a catalyst for open-source web mapping on campus,” said Ben Mearns, lead GIS consultant in IT Client Support & Services.

The new map completely integrates and replaces two closely-related websites -- UD Buildings and Maps and the previous version of the campus map. It also offers new ways to find information.

Users can now search by name, browse by category or click directly on the feature of interest and get information on it, all in one window. Travel directions are available through a link to Google Maps.

University units can now contribute thematic map layers. For example, Facilities has produced a “Featured Projects” layer. UD staff can create and maintain these layers using simple tools, such as Google's My Maps, that require no special training.

Beyond thematic layers, the base layer itself -- which includes buildings, roads, etc. -- can be updated through OpenStreetMap (OSM), the open-data repository that the UD Map harnesses.

OSM is similar to other web maps of the world, like Google Maps; however, the data is created, maintained and owned entirely by the community at large. OSM is often referred to as the Wikipedia of web maps.

By popular request, map creators have added new information, for example, the address and coordinates of buildings and lots; coordinates can be used with a GPS device to easily locate a building.

UD Map can be deployed in a variety of ways on other websites. Arguments within links to the map can provide a desired initial view, zoomed and centered on a particular building or parking lot or with a thematic layer turned on.

Departments can use this feature to provide the location of a special speaker event, for instance. Users can also add a smaller version, or widget, of the map to web pages. Capabilities for adding additional user-created layers will be available in the future.

One of the most time-consuming tasks involved in creating the campus map was updating old geometries (e.g., adding new building footprints) and information on buildings and lots. In fact, more updates need to be made and will continue to be made.

“This year, OCM and IT hope to engage various departments in keeping the data current using simple, web-based data-maintenance tools. Everyone can help us improve the map by checking the accuracy of information with which they're familiar. Click the 'Report an Error' link at the upper-right of the map if you find incorrect information,” said Dick Sacher, associate director of IT-CS&S.

Some departments that oversee mappable campus events and features will actually create and maintain their own map layer -- as in the example of Facilities, above.

UD Map is a novel integration of open-source software, crowd-sourced and locally developed map layers, and UD databases. IT-CS&S's Research & Data Management Services' GIS staff designed and programmed the service and will support the tools that allow others to incorporate and modify the map. For further details, go to the UDMap wiki by clicking the “About” link at the upper-right corner of map.

The map was recognized in a recent OpenStreetMap wiki entry, where it was the image of the week and received international attention.