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WorldMap – a geospatial framework for collaborative research
WorldMap is a web-based, map-centric data exploration system built on open-source geospatial technology at Harvard University. It is designed to serve collaborative research and teaching, but is also accessible to the general public. This article explains WorldMap’s basic functions through several historical research projects, demonstrating its ﬂexible scale (from neighborhood to continent) and diverse research themes (social, political, economic, cultural, infrastructural, etc.).
Also shared in this article are our experiences in handling technical and institutional challenges during system development, such as synchronization of software components being developed by multiple organizations; juggling competing priorities for serving individual requests and developing a system that will enable users to support themselves; balancing promotion of the system usage with constraints on infrastructure investment; harnessing volunteered geographic information while managing data quality; as well as protecting copyrights, preserving permanent links and citations, and providing long-term archiving.