Map Whiteboard Cloud Solution for Collaborative Editing of Geographic Information
For the purpose of exploiting the potential of cloud connectivity in geographical information systems, the Map Whiteboard technology introduced in this article does for web mapping what Google Docs does for word processing; create a shared user interface where multiple parties collaboratively can develop maps and map data while seeing each other work in realtime. To develop the Map Whiteboard concept, we have applied a methodology whereby we have collected technical and functional requirements through a series of hackathons, implemented a prototype in several stages, and subjected this to rigorous testing in a lab environment and with selected users from relevant environments at intermediate scale. The work has resulted in a fully functional prototype that exploits WebSockets via a cloud service to reflect map and data changes between multiple connected clients. The technology has a demonstrated potential for use in a wide range of web GIS applications, something that is facilitated by the interfaces already implemented towards mainstream mapping frameworks like OpenLayers and QGIS-two of the most popular frameworks for Web GIS solutions. Further development and testing are required before operationalization in mission-critical environments. In conclusion, the Map Whiteboard concept offers a starting point for exploiting cloud connectivity within GIS to facilitate the digitalization of common processes within the government and private sector. The technology is ready for early adopters and welcomes the contribution of interested parties.