Great Lakes Mapping Mashups:
How to Develop Your Own Great Lakes Web Mapping Applications

An education/outreach project of the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network funded by and in support of the Great Lakes Observing System.

The Great Lakes Observing System website has reached a level of maturity where it now includes some useful mapping products and more are planned. The Great Lakes Mapping Workshops have been an experiment on outreach using a different approach to developing mapping products – one where those working to protect and manage the Great Lakes are taught how to integrate maps and data “on-the-fly” and develop their own decision-making tools. Projects such as “Apps for Democracy” in Washington DC, “NYC Big Apps” in New York City, and the “DataSF App Showcase” in San Francisco provide rich examples of what can happen when organizations make their data available and provide incentives for citizens to develop their own innovative web or mobile applications. The first Apps for Democracy contest generated 47 applications and resulted in a payback of 46:1 on the $50,000 invested in prizes.

With a little training to provide knowledge about software tools and access to map and data services, we believe it is possible to extend the use of innovative web mapping applications to multiple Great Lakes constituencies, providing them with the resources and knowledge to better utilize these new tools for sustainable management of the Great Lakes. The result will be an increase in both the use of existing decision support tools and the development of new innovative web mapping applications providing information about the Great Lakes.

[Workshops] [Project Resources] [Web 2.0 Technologies] [Links] [Contacts]


GLOS Mapping Workshop were held on each of the Great Lakes to discuss needs for Great Lakes decision support tools, promote data-driven decision-making for the Great Lakes, discuss how social networking can allow people to share discovery of interesting tools, and provide hands-on training on how to develop their own web mapping application. A total of 60 people attended the six sessions held in Kingston, ON; Chicago, IL; Duluth, MN; Alpena, MI; Traverse City, MI; and Buffalo, NY and 24 teachers attended separate evening sessions in Alpena, Traverse City, and Buffalo. In addition, 24 people participated in a webinar series for local conservation authorities coordinated by Conservation Ontario and 8 teachers enrolled in a week-long course on virtual globes and environmental education at Ohio State University's Stone Lab.

The pre- and post-workshop evaluations for the mapping workshops show the training has an impact. When asked if the workshop met expectations, attendees at the Traverse City workshop answered with an average rating of 4.3 out of 5. Significant advancements were made in understanding the concepts behind interactive web mapping sites, virtual globes, and on-line Great Lakes data and resources, as well as developing web mapping sites and mapping mashups from the beginning to the end of the workshop. A summary report of the evaluations for all of the workshops will be prepared and follow-up interviews will be conducted with workshop attendees to see if they have made use of the knowledge gained during the workshops.

Conservation Ontario Webinars
Webinar #1: January 10, 2011 - 10:00 to 11:30am EST
Attendance: 22 attendees
Webinar #2: January 21, 2011 - 2:00 to 3:30pm EST
Attendance: 17 attendees
Instructors: David Hart and Cindy Hagley
Coordinator: Chris Wilkinson, Conservation Ontario

Teaching with Google Earth and Google Ocean
Location: Put-in-Bay, OH
Facility: Stone Lab, Ohio State University
Date: August 15-21, 2010
Instructors: Rosanne Fortner and David Hart
Attendance: 8 teachers

Lake Erie
Location: Buffalo, New York
Facility: University at Buffalo
Date: April 8, 2010
Instructors: David Hart, Cindy Hagley, and AJ Wortley
Local Coordinator: Helen Domske, New York Sea Grant
Attendance: 14 + 14 teachers

Lake Michigan (east)
Location: Traverse City, Michigan
Facility: Northwestern Michigan College
Date: November 11, 2009
Instructors: David Hart and Cindy Hagley
Local Coordinator: Mark Breederland, Michigan Sea Grant
Attendance: 11 + 8 teachers

Lake Huron
Location: Alpena, Michigan
Facility: Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Date: November 9, 2009
Instructors: David Hart and Cindy Hagley
Local Coordinator: Brandon Schroeder, Michigan Sea Grant
Attendance: 7 + 2 teachers

Lake Superior
Location: Duluth, Minnesota
Venue: Minnesota GIS/LIS Conference
Date: October 21, 2009
Instructors: AJ Wortley and David Hart
Attendance: 15

Lake Michigan (west)
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Facility: Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5
Date: October 7, 2009
Instructors: David Hart and AJ Wortley
Local Coordinator: Elizabeth Hinchey Malloy, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant
Attendance: 10

Lake Ontario
Location: Kingston, Ontario
Facility: Queen’s University, Department of Geography
Date: June 18, 2009
Instructors: David Hart and Cindy Hagley
Local Coordinator: Gerry Barber, Queen’s University, Department of Geography
Attendance: 3

Project Resources

Several handouts were developed to support the Great Lakes Mapping workshops. They include development resources for mapping mashups/data integration; an inventory of distributed Great Lakes data sources; training exercises utilizing web mapping technologies; and teacher resources for Google Earth.

Data Integration Technologies

Data Sources Tutorials/Examples

Web 2.0 Technologies for Great Lakes Maps, Data, and Decision-Support Tools

The term Web 2.0 is commonly associated with web applications that facilitate interoperability and user-centered design. Examples of Web 2.0 technologies include social networking sites, blogs, wikis, video sharing sites, hosted services, web applications, mashups, and folksonomies.

Information Dashboards. Stephen Few, author of "Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Design" defines an information dashboard as a "single screen display of the most important information people need to do a job, presented in a way that allows them to monitor what's going on in an instant." Personal web page creators such as Protopage and Netvibes allow quick creation of dashboard interfaces. These examples provide a gallery of Great Lakes decision support tools organized by geograrphy or topic.

Social Bookmarking. Much like bookmarking favorite websites in a browser, social bookmarking allows people to organize and present the interesting web resources they discover, only through an online system that can be shared with others. Bookmarks are described with metadata and classified with tags. There is some overlap between social bookmarking and information dashboards, with bookmarking systems having the advantage of supporting connection with others to discover what they have found and dashboard systems having the advantage of graphical organization and presentation of information resources. Collaborative Weblogs. A collaborative weblog allows multiple authors to post entries, typically related to a single topic or unifying theme. Social Networking. Social networking sites allow users to share ideas, activities, events, and interests within their individual networks.



David Hart
GIS Specialist
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
Goodnight Hall, Room 201
1975 Willow Drive
Madison, WI 53706

Voice: (608) 262-6515
Email: dhart *at*
Cynthia Hagley
Environmental Quality Extension Educator
Minnesota Sea Grant
137 Chester Park
31 West College Street
Duluth, MN 55812

Voice: (218) 726-8713
Email: chagley *at*
A.J. Wortley
Senior Outreach Specialist
Wisconsin State Cartographer's Office
384 Science Hall
550 N. Park Street
Madison, WI 53706-1491

Voice: (608) 265-8106
Email: lwortley *at*

Last updated: May 8, 2013