A GIS web server is only as good as the software used. There are many excellent packages, many of them open source. One of the more common is MapServer. This is an open source development environment that is used to build spatially enabled Internet applications.
Most GIs web servers run on several software programs, each one integrating into a platform that excels at producing maps, images and vector data for government and economic use.
MapServer creates geographic image maps that provides users with maps, reports, and spatial data. This software also works as a map engine that provide location context when needed.
GIS web servers need a skilled web/server apps packager who is experience in server setup and knows the best way to install the packages into the file system. Improper server set up can degrade the system's effectiveness. This is why more organizations are moving their software platforms to web based hosts and servers.
The applications work across a wide range of industries and an almost unlimited uses. A GIS web server can help a lost tourist find the nearest highway, or assist government agencies and private organizations collaborate to speed response to imminent disasters.
The methodology behind GIS is sound. GIS data has evolved beyond generating maps to analyzing socioeconomic variables that can be pin pointed to a map. This may be as simple as highlighting the demographic variables that best describe the market around an existing business.
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A GIS web server must allow for the collection of data from all sources. It must be strong enough to let websites collect and process data without putting undue strain on the CPU or bandwidth. The precision of the data can be affected by the quality of the interface units, and how well they can communicate with the system. The server must also be powerful enough to handle extra scripts that permit for random error, or keep the maps simple in the case of 'cluster density' in urban areas, or satisfy a variety of client's information needs.
Effective GIS web server management depends on a variety of elements. Skilled employees, who are committed to using technology creatively, and collaborate using shared data and open source information, and use innovation to improve service to improve the process.
Maintenance must extend beyond the computer systems to include telephone and local area networks. They must train continually to improve their problem solving techniques and be willing to upgrade continually to keep abreast of the technology.
A GIS Web Server department is responsible for the system. They must monitor, manage, and maintain all information and communication systems, both hardware and software. They must also be willing to provide customer support to non-technical personnel.
Corporately the server company maintains software, support, and applicable license maintenance fees. Geographic Information Systems are becoming so commonplace that people are becoming blind to them. A technology that was awe inspiring less than five years ago is now commonplace thanks, in part, to the power behind the GIS Web Server systems that are powerful enough to shrink the globe into a network of databases.
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GeoNode is a complete spatial data infrastructure solution that extends the OpenGeo Architecture with catalog functionality and a sophisticated user experience