Free and Open Source Software for Geomatics Conference FOSS4G 2010 Barcelona

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The European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) of the European Commission provides since the year 2000 support to forest fire prevention and fighting in Europe. The system is built using open source geospatial software such as OpenLayers, TileCache, MapServer, GeoServer and GDAL/OGR. The decision to use open source software came from the need for a flexible and reliable system, which could quickly and easily be extended to accommodate for changes in end user requirements. Recent developments in geospatial open source software projects showed these characteristics in addition to the availability of resourceful user communities and extensive code documentation. This solid framework allows EFFIS to provide Web access to continuously updated geo-spatial information during crisis situations, enhancing international cooperation (e.g., by aerial fire fighting) and supporting decision making. Large raster datasets which traditionally implied long response time when displayed in a map viewer are now pre-processed daily with a multithread tiling system and made available as pre-generated caches for the EFFIS Web interface. These layers are enhanced by overlaying additional up-to-date vector layers such as burnt area perimeters and hot spots (active fires), which provide near-real time information on forest fire activity in Europe. All the datasets available in the map viewer are also published through interoperable Web services and supplied with an open data license. The use of the open source Joomla content management system has allowed quick development of custom components, enhancing usability and information management and allowing statistical data, forest fire related documentation, and GIS applications all to be accessed from one entry point. EFFIS has shown how open source software can make a difference in rapid provision and visualization of large and frequently updated datasets and how this solution can effectively support decision making for fire prevention and fire fighting across Europe.


Cristiano Giovando - Joint Research Centre of the European Commission
Ceri Whitmore - Joint Research Centre of the European Commission
Andrea Camia - Joint Research Centre of the European Commission
Jesus San Miguel - Joint Research Centre of the European Commission


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