Maps

Overview of our visualization goals and how we will accomplish them.

The results of our biodiversity data gathering, modeling, and analyses will be visualized in online maps. These maps and their development will focus on:

Project results are driven by team priorities.

Stay tuned (coming soon).

This section will highlight our biodiversity web mapping priorities. For now, please take a look at our first:

Demonstration Earth map

I have created a prototype web mapping page to demonstrate the cool features of OpenLayers 3.0 alpha.

Check it out!

Our website will feature a library of paleo-biodiversity maps to provide historical context to our findings, highlighting the current degree of biodiversity losses. For now, I describe my past endeavors in creating this website.

As has been the case for centuries, one of the most effective tools for communicating geographic information is a beautiful and informative map. Over the last several decades, cartographic publishing has been moving from the printing press to the Internet.

In order to learn the art and science of web mapping, I have had to climb many mountains, not knowing in advance which of them would lead to an optimal set of elements from which I could compose the framework for our biodiversity data sharing and mapping site.

Open source software technologies and examples that I have explored for creating our software system include:

  • GIS programs — Quantum GIS, uDig
  • Web programming — HTML, CSS, JavaScript
  • Key programming languages — Objective-C, Python, Java, R
  • Raster data formats — NetCDF, HDF5
  • Database management systems — PostGIS, PostgreSQL, SciDB, rasdaman, SpatiaLite
  • Database GUIs — pgAdmin3
  • Map servers — GeoServer, MapServer
  • Client-side web mapping frameworks — OpenLayers, Heron, TileMill
  • Mobile (iOS) application development tools — Xcode
  • Code development editors — Komodo, KompoZer, BlueGriffon, Coda, Aptana Studio
  • Integrated stacks — OpenGeo Suite, BitNami Stacks, MAMP
  • Statistical packages — R, RStudio
  • Server software — OS X Server, Apache
  • Content management systems and frameworks — Django, Drupal, Joomla

A clear visual presentation of the current state of our planet's biodiversity will be front-and-center on this website. For now, I describe the current state of affairs in the creation of this website.

I now have enough knowledge to articulate a viable vision for crafting the underlying technology for our Global Biodiversity Visualization Project.

I crafted this website almost entirely using hand-coding in order to:

  • Learn the essential software technologies
  • Create a design and a framework for the project website
  • Demonstrate a state-of-the-art geographic visualization

Developing this site by hand required learning website and web mapping programming. I chose this route as a better investment of time than pre-packaged solutions or even drag-and-drop editing in order to create a more precise and custom product and for the long-term integral of productivity. This required a great deal of initial start-up time investment, but, unlike alternative approaches, will result in a smoothly accelerating development growth curve.

As we clarify our picture of the past and the present, we will increasingly focus on producing maps showing our best projections for the future of the Earth's biodiversity. For now, I outline steps for the future development of this biodiversity visualization website.

Now that a design outline the foundational website code are both in place, I can start balancing my time between software infrastructure development and actually doing collaborative science. The science will also involve some significant start-up time investments in order to design and code the necessary algorithms.

The next steps for creating our website, visualization, and data-handling software systems include:

  • Create a data pipeline connecting Excel spreadsheets to a database such as PostGIS
  • Set up a server that can publish gridded data from NetCDF files and site data from the database
  • Connect both sets of data to our web mapping system
  • Create a database for the biodiversity community to support logging into the website and uploading data
  • Launch the website
  • Write an iOS app for mobile data entry, editing, and viewing
  • Do some science

One of the best ways to communicate our findings will be to create online animations that graphically show humanity's impacts on the Earth's living species.

One of the primary objectives of the Global Biodiversity Visualization Project is to create online animations of the historical and future trajectories of the Earth's threatened plant and animal species. This will be an early developmental target.

We expect these biodiversity animations to play an important role in furthering basic research while providing an essential bridge to communicate state-of-the-art biodiversity science to students, the public, and policymakers.

Ecological sensitivity map