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Open Geoportal

The Wisconsin Coastal Atlas Uses Open Geoportal. The Open Geoportal is a consortium comprised of contributions of several universities and organizations to help facilitate the discovery and acquisition of geospatial data across many organizations and platforms. The Open Geoportal provides organizations the opportunity to share thousands of geospatial data layers, maps, metadata, and development resources through a single common interface.

Wisconsin Coastal Atlas

The Wisconsin Coastal Atlas is an innovative web resource that helps people better understand coastal issues, share coastal data, and inform decision-making about sustainable use of the Great Lakes. It is intended for use by coastal resource managers, planners, researchers, educators, tourists, and citizen scientists. The atlas is organized into four sections: maps, catalog, tools, and learn. A gallery of interactive maps provides customized perspectives related to specific coastal issues in Wisconsin. Users can search for geospatial data through interfaces that connect to catalogs maintained by other coastal data custodians. The atlas serves as a gateway to spatial decision support tools relevant to Great Lakes management and provides access to educational resources about coastal issues in Wisconsin. The atlas is built with an open architecture that allows easy addition of new maps, data, and tools.

For questions, comments, or to report problems, please contact:

David Hart (

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

  2. Getting Started: Quick Start

  3. Search

    1. Working With The Map

      1. Find a Place

      2. Global Zoom

      3. Back

      4. Forward

      5. Zoom In

      6. Hand Control

      7. Slider Bar

      8. Clear Previews

    2. Two Types of Searches

      1. Using the Map to Search

      2. Text Search

        1. Basic Search

        2. Advanced Search

          1. Topic

          2. Keyword(s)

          3. Originator

          4. Year Range

          5. Data Type

          6. Repository

          7. Inclusion of Restricted Data

          8. Results limited to just the visible map area

    3. Search Tab Preferences

      1. Collapse/Expand

      2. Collapse Left

      3. Expand Right

      4. Save Image

      5. Print

      6. Basemap

      7. Types of Basemap

  4. Practice Search

  5. Search Results

    1. Show/Hide Preview Controls

    2. Add to Cart

    3. Type

    4. Name

    5. Originator

    6. i

    7. Preview

      1. Opacity

      2. Width

      3. Color

      4. Zoom to Geographic Extent of Layer

      5. Click a Previewed Feature on the Map to View its Attributes

    8. Sorting and Columns

    9. Clear Previews

  6. Cart

    1. Download

    2. Web Service

    3. Share

    4. Map it

  7. The OpenGeoportal Interface

    1. Reset

    2. User Guide

    3. Highlights

    4. Login

    5. About

    6. Contact

  1. Overview

    The OpenGeoportal was collaboratively developed as an open source, federated web application to discover, preview, and retrieve geospatial data from different repositories. Several of the country's leading universities and a state agency have formed a partnership to make thousands of geospatial data layers available through a single, open source interface. The application also incorporates some new innovative search techniques. Partners include Tufts, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, MassGIS, Stanford and UC Berkeley. The single interface is skinnable and may have slight differences in appearance based on the institution hosting the application.

  2. Quick Start: Getting Started

    By clicking the Getting Started tab, you can get some of the most important information quickly on how to interact with the map, search, preview, and download data.

  3. Search

    1. Working With The Map

      A set of buttons that display above the map allows you to switch or manipulate the current view.

      1. Find a Place is used for a geospatial search. When you use the Find Place field, the OpenGeoportal provides a view of the location you entered and restricts the returned data records to those intersecting the spatial search area. Returned results are ranked according to a unique set of spatial algorithms.

      2. Global Zoom Restores the highest level view available

      3. Back Backs you up to previously viewed map extents

      4. Forward Moves you through subsequent map extents

      5. Zoom In switches the cursor to a magnifying glass icon which, when clicked, zooms in to the identified point on the map. Hold down the left-click to drag and draw a box over the area to zoom to.

      6. Pan Control switches the cursor to a hand icon which, when the left click is held down, allows you to drag and pan the map

      7. Zoom Slider Bar displays for each map, allowing you to zoom in or zoom out by clicking the ends of the slider bar, or by dragging the slider up or down on the bar.

      8. Clear PreviewsUsed to deselect any results checked to preview and remove them from the map

    2. Two Types of Searches

      In order to search for data, click on the Search tab.

      There are two ways to locate, explore and download data. These two types of searches are 1) Using the Map to Search and 2) Text Search. The two methods can be used individually or combined (default) for more effective searching. A change in the map extent will initiate a search for data.

      1. Using the Map to Search can be done in several ways:

        (a)The Find Place field is used for a geospatial search. When you use the Find Place field, the OpenGeoportal zooms to the location you entered and restricts the returned data records to those intersecting the resulting map extent.

        For example, to search for data in the Boston area: 1. In the Find Place field, type Boston, MA and click "go". 2. In Search Results, you see all the data layers that are within or partially within the Boston area. By default they are ordered by a unique spatial relevance algorithm.

        If you hover your mouse pointer over a data layer in the Results list, you can see its extent previewed in blue on the map.

        (b) Drag and Draw a Box to perform a search similar to "Find Place". Using the Zoom In tool while clicking and dragging draws a box that zooms to the extent of the area of interest. By default the OpenGeoportal returns relevant results each time the displayed map extent changes.

        For example, to search for data for the Boston area: 1. Drag and draw a box over Boston, MA. 2. In Search Results, you will see all the data layers that are within or partially within Boston.

        Also, panning or zooming in to a different area imresources/mediately initiates another search for the new area.

        Try combining your spatial search with a text search to further refine your results.

      2. Text Search allows you to type in search terms. There are Basic and Advanced Search options.

        1. Basic Search

          For a Basic search, you can type in a search term, such as buildings, in the search field. You can also put a place name in the Search Text Key field, such as buildings Boston. This search goes through the metadata to find these key terms. Remember, the search will consider an and to exist between the two words.

          For example, you want to find buildings in Boston. 1. Make sure the Search tab is selected. 2. Type buildings Boston in the search text field and click on Search. 3. You see that the Search Results change to include those data layers with rivers of Boston.

        2. Advanced Search

          If the Basic Search options are too general, use the Advanced Search options to further refine your search. To use the Advanced Search:

          With the Search tab selected, click Advanced Options. The options for search are expanded.

          The additional options (defined below) allow you to further define your search criteria. You can specify any of the following:

          1. Topic allows you to search for data that includes information related to a particular subject or data theme. Left click on the arrow in the Topic field to show the list of topics.

            • Agriculture and Farming
              The rearing of animals or cultivation of plants. For example, resources describing irrigation, aquaculture, herding, and pests and diseases affecting crops and livestock.

            • Biology and Ecology
              Naturally occurring flora and fauna. For example, resources describing wildlife, biological sciences, ecology, wilderness, sea life, wetlands, and habitats.

            • Administrative and Political Boundaries
              Administrative units within countries and borders between countries.

            • Atmospheric and Climatic
              Atmospheric processes and phenomena. For example, resources describing cloud cover, weather, atmospheric conditions, climate change, and precipitation.

            • Business and Economic
              Economic activities or employment. For example, resources describing labor, revenue, commerce, industry, tourism and ecotourism, forestry, fisheries, commercial or subsistence hunting, and exploration and exploitation of resources such as minerals, oil, and gas.

            • Elevation and Derived Products
              Height above or below sea level. For example, resources describing altitude, bathymetry, digital elevation models, slope, and products derived from this information.

            • Environment and Conservation
              Environmental resources, protection, and conservation. For example, resources describing pollution, waste storage and treatment, environmental impact assessments, environmental risks, and nature reserves.

            • Geological and Geophysical
              Earth sciences. For example, resources describing geophysical features and processes, minerals, the composition, structure and origin of the earth's rocks, earthquakes, volcanic activity, landslides, gravity information, soils, permafrost, hydrogeology, and erosion.

            • Human Health and Disease
              Health services, human ecology, and safety. For example, resources describing human disease and illness, factors affecting health, hygiene, mental and physical health, substance abuse, and health services.

            • Imagery and Base Maps
              Base maps. For example, resources describing land cover, topographic maps, and classified and unclassified images.

            • Military
              Military bases, structures, and activities. For example, resources describing barracks, training grounds, military transportation, etc.

            • Inland Water Resources
              Inland water features, drainage systems, and their characteristics. For example, resources describing rivers and glaciers, lakes, water use plans, dams, currents, floods, water quality, and hydrographic charts.

            • Locations and Geodetic Networks
              Positional information and services. For example, resources describing addresses, geodetic networks, postal zones and services, control points, and place names.

            • Oceans and Estuaries
              Features and characteristics of salt water bodies excluding inland waters. For example, resources describing tides, tidal waves, coastal information, and reefs.

            • Cadastral
              Property maps. A cadastre commonly includes details of the ownership, the tenure, the precise location (some include GPS coordinates), the dimensions (and area), the cultivations if rural, and the value of individual parcels of land.

            • Cultural, Society, and Demographics
              Characteristics of societies and cultures. For example, resources describing natural settlements, anthropology, archaeology, education, traditional beliefs, manners and customs, demographic data, crime and justice, recreational areas and activities, social impact assessments, and census information.

            • Facilities and Structure
              Man-made construction. For example, resources describing buildings, museums, churches, factories, housing, monuments, and towers.

            • Transportation Networks
              Means and aids for conveying people and goods. For example, resources describing roads, airports and airstrips, shipping routes, tunnels, nautical charts, vehicle or vessel location, aeronautical charts, and railways.

            • Utilities and Communication
              Energy, water and waste systems, and communications infrastructure and services. For example, resources describing hydroelectricity, geothermal, solar, and nuclear sources of energy, water purification and distribution, sewage collection and disposal, electricity and gas distribution, data communication, telecommunication, radio, and communication networks.

          2. Keyword(s) - Keywords are words that serve as criteria, identifying relevant search results based on document metadata.

          3. Originator - The originator is the office or agency providing the source data for the search result.

          4. Year Range - The Year Range option allows you to specify a particular date range to search. Years should be entered in the YYYY format.

          5. Data Type - Data Type allows you to define the type of data you want to find, such as raster data, vector data, or scanned maps.

            • Raster - Raster data represents a generally rectangular grid of pixels or points of color, viewable via a monitor, paper, or other display medium.

            • Vector - Vector graphic formats points, lines, and polygons (shapes), which are all based on mathematical equations, to represent images in computer graphics.

            • Scanned Maps - Scanned maps have coordinate system information in the margins that can be used to geo-reference the image without reference to any other data.

          6. Repository - Click the Select Repositories dropdown. Use the checkboxes to include all or a select set of the data available from the contributing data repositories.

          7. Inclusion of Restricted Data - A portion of the data provided by the data sources is protected from public view, and requires the user to login to view or download the restricted data. Generally speaking, individuals from each of the data repositories will have privileges to log in to data from their own institution. By checking this, results might be returned that you would be unable to preview or download through the portal.

          8. Results limited to just the visible map area You can elect to have the OpenGeoportal restrict the search results to correspond to the map in one of two ways.

            • If you keep the Limit the Visible Map Area checked, the search results layers correspond only to features that intersect with the visible map extent.

            • If you uncheck Limit the Visible Map Area, the spatial component of the search will be removed. The search results will include layers from different parts of the world. Only the text search will be in effect.

      Helpful Hints for Finding Data

      • Combine spatial and text searches - For example, zoom in to Boston, MA and type "buildings" in the search box for an effective way to search for Boston buildings. An advantage to this type of search is that buildings layers for towns in the Boston area, but not a part of Boston proper will appear. Use the "Find a Place" search box for a quick way to zoom in to a location.

      • Use Multiple Terms to Refine Searches - For example, search for land cover to find documents with both the words 'land' and 'cover' somewhere in the metadata, but not necessarily together.

      • Capitalization - Searches on OpenGeoportal are not case sensitive; e.g. "roads" returns the same results as "Roads".

    3. Search Tab Preferences

      Elements on the Search tab can be adjusted to suit your preferences. Three buttons appear in the header of the Search tab have the following functions:

      1. Collapse/Expand collapses or expands the portion of the Search tab where criteria are entered. Having this portion of the tab collapsed allows more search results to appear on the screen.

      2. Collapse Left collapses the tabbed area of the interface completely, maximizing the map view. When the left side of the screen is collapsed, the button to expand right displays at the left edge of the screen. Using the expand right button will restore the interface to the default view.

      3. Expand Right collapses the map area of the interface completely, maximizing the tabbed potion of the interface. When the right side of the screen is collapsed, using the expand left button will restore the interface to the default view.

      4. Above the map on the right, three buttons are displayed:

        Save Image The Search Results allow you to save data sets only, so if you want to save a map to view or download, you must click Save Image. The map will be added to your Cart.

      5. Print The Print button allows you to print the current map.
        Tip - Consider using a PDF printer to avoid having to download a map, saving the map with a name and location of your choosing.

      6. Basemap There are five options for the basemap you can use in the OpenGeoportal.

      7. Basemap types when you hover your cursor over Basemap, your options for the basemap appear. The one selected is in blue.

        • Google Hybrid - The Hybrid view shows a map depicting roads, parks, borders, and more, overlayed on satellite imagery.

        • Google Satellite - The Satellite view shows aerial imagery of roads, parks, borders, and more.

        • Google Streets - The Map view shows a map with a traditional depiction of roads, parks, borders, and more.

        • Google Physical - This shows the topography and physical features of the land along with major roads.

        • Open Street Map - This option is a free, editable source of geographic data, which is built similar to Wikipedia. OSM has mapped some parts of the world not easily available from other sources.

  4. Practice Search

    When you are finished defining your search criteria, click the Search button.
    Results corresponding to the criteria you've entered display under Search Results.

    Try a search. Let's get recent roads data for Boston. In 1) Topics choose Transportation Networks, 2) in Keywords type roads, 3) in Year(s) type 2000 and then 4) click Search.

  5. Search Results

    Default columns that display for returned Search results are as follows:

    1. Show/Hide Preview Controls Expands the result to provide options to customize opacity, font size and color, adjusting how the data will preview on the map. Click on the arrow by the data layer to show controls.

    2. Add to Cart - A checkbox used to save a result to the Cart. Simply check the box and the data layer will be placed in the cart. The cart is a temporary holding place to preview or download chosen results, which can be accessed by clicking the Cart tab.

    3. Data Type

      Raster - a generally rectangular grid of pixels

      Point - a vector graphic format using points

      Line - a vector graphic format using lines

      Polygon - a vector graphic format using polygons

      Scanned Map - a digital image of a physical map

    4. Name - The document or data set name

    5. Originator - The office or agency providing the source data for the search result

    6. i - Used to display metadata for the returned result. 1) Click on the i and 2) the metadata appears.

    7. Preview

      Checkbox - If the data is public, simply click the checkbox beside the result to preview the data on the map. The layer goes to the top of the list.

      Login If the data is protected, click the login button to provide your credentials to access the data and preview it on the map.

      Within Preview, there are several options for controlling how your features look and exploring their attribute data. They are a. Opacity, b. Width, c. Color, d. Zoom to Geographic Extent of Layer, and e. Click a Previewed Feature on the Map to View its Attributes.

      1. Opacity - controls the transparency of the data layer in the view. Hover your cursor over the control and a scale bar appears. Move the arrow up and down the scale to adjust the opacity of the layer.

      2. Size/Ln Width- This controls the size of points or the width of the lines (or borders for polygons) in the data layers. Move the arrow on the scale to adjust. Note this option is not available for raster data.

      3. Color - Click on the color icon to bring up the color palette. Note this option is not available for raster data.

      4. Zoom to Geographic Extent of Layer By clicking on the magnifying glass, the map pans and zooms to the full extent of the layer.

      5. Click a Previewed Feature on the Map to View its Attributes By clicking on this, the cursor turns into a crosshairs. Then, click on any feature to bring up the attribute information about it.

    8. Sorting and Columns - Used to include or exclude data being displayed in the set of Search Results and to sort the results. Clicking the sort dropdown (default is Relevancy) will show a list of criteria to sort by. Only one option may be selected to sort the results. You can also sort by clicking on the column title. Clicking the column title a second time sorts by the column in reverse order.

      Click on the Columns dropdown. Check and uncheck checkboxes to choose which columns are displayed in the search results.

      The available columns and sort orders are:

      • Relevancy - ranked by relevance.

      • Data Type - grouped in this order: Line, Point, Polygon, and Raster

      • Name - alphabetically, by the name of the document or data set

      • Originator - alphabetically, by the name of the office or agency providing the source data

      • Publisher - alphabetically, by the name of the agency that published the source data

      • Date - chronologically, by publication date, with data having the most recent metadata first

      • Rep (Repository) - grouped by the university or state agency that contributed the data

      • Access - whether or not the data layer is Public or Restricted.

    9. Clear Previews - Used to deselect any results checked to preview and remove them from the map

  6. Cart

    The Cart tab provides temporary storage for data sets and map images you have selected. From the cart, several actions are possible; downloading layers, creating web services, sharing the contents of your cart, and opening layers in GeoCommons (coming soon). Hovering on each button will highlight which layers are available for that particular action. Additionally, you can preview the data in the cart the same way you preview data on the Search tab.

    While in the Search tab, check the layer you want to download. The number of layers selected appears in the Cart tab. 2) Select the Cart tab.

    Once in the Cart tab, 1) you see the layers selected and 2) four buttons let you manage the contents of your cart: Download, Web Service, Share and Map it.

    The four buttons are:

    1. Download - Used to save selected data and maps to the location of your choice. When you choose to download items in your cart, you are given options on the format and map extent to include.

      1. File Format - The file format dropdown defines how your selected items will be saved.

      a. Shapefile - A shapefile is a geospatial vector data format for geographic information systems. A table of records stores attributes for each feature in the shapefile.

      b. KML - Keyhole Markup Language (KML) is an XML schema for expressing geographic annotation and visualization within Internet-based, two-dimensional maps and three-dimensional Earth browsers, for example Google Earth, or any other 3D Earth browser.

      2. Clip to map extent - Clip to map extent limits the properties/attributes to only those shapes visible in the shapefile. This is an advised option for raster layers and large data sets.

    2. Web Service- Create a WFS or WMS to stream layers into an application like ArcMap.

    3. Share - 1 Click on the Share button. 2) You are provided with a URL link for your current map which you can copy and paste to share the map and associated data set with others.

    4. Map it - opens the layer in GeoCommons to create maps.

  7. The OpenGeoportal Interface
    Several links are always visible on the Open Geoportal interface. They include four links on a menu bar on the upper right of the site:

    1. Reset - restores the OpenGeoportal to its default state, erasing any previously entered search criteria and emptying your Cart

    2. User Guide - launches this guide

    3. Highlights - shows the latest features added to the OpenGeoportal

    4. Login - allows you to log into your institution's portal and access restricted data.

      Also always visible are two links at the lower left of the window:
    5. About - provides version and release information for OpenGeoportal

    6. Contact - provides information for support and assistance

For questions, comments, or to report problems, please contact:

David Hart (

Project Management:

Patrick Florance, Manager of Geospatial Technology Services, UIT, Tufts University