Overview of GIS at NACSE

Many of the databases we work with contain biological or environmental data, including a geographic location. The availability of this "spatial component" means that in addition to queries and results that use text, we can also create map-based interfaces.

This type of software is referred to generically as Geospatial Information Systems - GIS for short. We use a variety of open-source and commercial products to implement our mapping tools. Most importantly, we integrate mapping capabilities with more traditional types of research databases, making the data more accessible and more useful.

Web-based mapping tools make it possible not just to view data in the context of its geographic location, but also to use the map to query the database for other information from that location. NACSE staff develop the mapping interfaces amd also perform a variety of data cleaning, processing, manipulation, and analysis tasks.

Examples of Our Work

MapServer Interfaces - Our MapServer interfaces run on a Linux server and are created completely with Open Source Software, including MapServer, PHP Mapscript, PHP, GDAL, PROJ.4, and a host of useful libraries.

ArcIMS Interfaces - Our ArcIMS interfaces currently run on an older Solaris server. We have developed sites around both the HTML and Java-based viewer templates, using primarily JavaScript for customizing functionality and appearance.


NACSE's computing facilities support multiple operating platforms (Solaris, Linux, HP-UX, AIX, Win32, Mac OS/X). Our GIS and database servers are powered primarily by Solaris and Linux (RHEL). The full ESRI ArcGIS suite is installed on several Win32 workstations, and use QGIS and JUMP GIS on our Linux desktop workstations. We maintain non-spatial production databases in Oracle, Sybase, PostgreSQL, and MySQL, and spatial databases in PostgreSQL/PostGIS.