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NMO Module 9 - UMN Mapserver, Sandia National Lab, PHAIRS, NEON, Connexions, NASA Mars Rover, Eden and Oxfam

by Rose Hessmiller last modified Jan 10, 2013 11:47 AM
An Example of future collaboration and application connectivity that can be brought into the portal including: geographic image maps, GIS, e-learning, live web video conferencing, ecological surveillance at multiple scales, public health medical alerts and early warning systems.

Review of projects using Plone applications

UMN MapServer

MapServer an Open Source development environment for building spatially-enabled internet applications. MapServer is not a full-featured GIS system, nor does it aspire to be. Instead, MapServer excels at rendering spatial data (maps, images, and vector data) for the web.

Beyond browsing GIS data, MapServer allows you create "geographic image maps", that is, maps that can direct users to content. For example, the Minnesota DNR Recreation Compass provides users with more than 10,000 web pages, reports and maps via a single application. The same application serves as a "map engine" for other portions of the site, providing spatial context where needed.

MapServer was originally developed by the University of Minnesota (UMN) ForNet project in cooperation with NASA and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR). Presently, the MapServer project is hosted by the TerraSIP project, a NASA sponsored project between the UMN and consortium of land management interests.
The software is maintained by a growing number of developers (nearing 20) from around the world and is supported

Sandia National Laboratory (international Programs)


A Collaborative Water Monitoring, Modeling and Management Environment

The purpose of this portal is to provide a web-based, interactive environment for collaborative regional and international water monitoring, modeling and management. This venue allows multiple scientists, policy makers, water managers and stakeholders at multiple institutions around the globe to work together on water issues in real time. It also provides public access highlighting different regional and international projects.

Sandia National Laboratories' Water Portal is designed to be a ground-breaking collaborative environment to enhance the way the Labs and it's partners work together. By combining the WebEx remote desktop software for realtime online meetings with a Web portal, a new level of integrated long distance interaction becomes possible. Partners may work together irrespective of distance on shared data sets and models, generating truly collaborative works. Both draft and completed models, analyses, and reports may then be uploaded to shared workspaces in the portal.

Note: There is public and restricted information on this site.



PHAIRS Project,

Converging NASA Mission Measurements and Products with the RSVP Decision Support System to Validate and Benchmark Public Health Medical Alerts and Early Warning Systems

Converging NASA Mission Measurements and Products with the RSVP Decision Support System to Validate and Benchmark Public Health Medical Alerts and Early Warning SystemsState and local health officials face a wide range of challenges from DUI and tobacco-related illnesses to environmental and infectious diseases. To meet these challenges, officials require dynamic information on the illnesses and conditions within their jurisdiction. NASA Mission assets offer a significant contribution to meeting these challenges by measuring and monitoring environmental and atmospheric conditions that relate directly and indirectly to public health.


NEON, the National Ecological Observatory Network: Building an ecological observatory network for regional- to continental-scale research and COREO.

The Consortium of Regional Ecological Observatories (COREO) was created in October 2004 by representatives from regions self-organized to support the creation of a National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). In January 2005 COREO received funding from NSF to support regional meetings of scientists to contribute local expertise and perspectives to national observatory discussions.

At present some 19 regions of the U.S. are represented in COREO. Participation is open to all scientists and educators interested in the potential for observatories to advance ecological knowledge at multiple scales.

Rice University: Connexions


Presentation at Google Tech Talks, April 11 2006

Project started at Rice University 1999

With less fanfare than MIT, Rice University has also been promoting a model for free, shared information that could be used by faculty members and students anywhere in the world. But the Rice program — Connexions— is different in key respects. It is assembling material from professors (and high school teachers) from anywhere, it is offering free software tools in addition to course materials, and it is trying to reshape the way academe uses both peer review and publishing. The project also has hopes of becoming a major curricular tool at community colleges.

“I was just frustrated with the status quo,” says Richard G. Baraniuk, in explaining how he started Connexions in 1999. “Peer review is severely broken. Publishing takes too long and then books are too expensive,” he says. “This is about cutting out the middlemen and truly making information free.”

Baraniuk is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rice, so many of the initial modules (which can either be materials for a course, a lecture or any other organizational unit) were in engineering and were submitted by Rice professors. But as Connexions has grown (from 200 modules in its second year to 2,300), it has attracted content in many disciplines and from many scholars.

There are materials for courses on art history, birds, business and graphic design. Offerings are particularly strong in music. And participating professors come from institutions including Cornell, Indiana State and Ohio State Universities, and the Universities of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Wisconsin at Madison. Professors from outside the United States have also started to use the site — it offers materials from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and the University of Cambridge.

NASA Mars Rover


Plone is currently serving up the content and forums for NASA's Mars Rover website - and is a good example of a site that manages its content with Plone.

On the site, you can also download the software that NASA runs to control the rover itself, and play around with it. The rover does not run Plone, unfortunately. ;)

The project was put together by some members of the Plone community together with people from NASA, and the site was so popular that Sun had to provide the server on a network with more bandwidth. More details are also found in an article on CNET which discusses some of the software details on the rover.

Eden Project and Oxfam

Eden Project

'To promote the understanding and responsible management of the vital relationship between plants, people and resources leading to a sustainable future for all'.

The Eden Project was established as one of the landmark Millennium projects in the UK to mark the year 2000 and is structured as an educational charitable trust


Oxfam International is a confederation of 12 organizations working together with over 3,000 partners in more than 100 countries to find lasting solutions to poverty, suffering and injustice. Worldmap

What is needed for Continued Growth of these portal projects? Leadership

Executive Leadership is one of the four pillars of E-business transformation.

At Oxfam International, the chief executive sidestepped the main Oxfam website and traditional communication systems and began using the small Oxfam side project a Plone-based collaboration site (which was primarily for disaster response) to correspond with his staff, all the executive directors of the 12 international Oxfam affiliates. All the senior executives started to use the portal! Once more than a 1/4 of all staff had logins globally, senior managers like the CEO of Oxfam UK, would upload content, and then link to it in their broadcast emails to the whole of Oxfam UK.

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