The aim of webmapping or online mapping is to broadcast maps in a universal environment, your customary internet browser. It is a easy interactive tool, through which a map can be transmitted, with for example a few levels of zoom. You can go further by giving the user the possibility of creating thematic maps, modify the maps or else print the maps. The technology, in constant evolution, now also offers functionalities that were before only accessible through a desktop GIS.
Online-mapping simplifies the publishing of information, without having to download unformatted data. The proliferation of servers renders dissemination of geographic data easier. It is therefore possible to combine internal data and data offered by external services (such as Google, Bing, Open Street Map, etc…) in the mapping interface. When information is published, it becomes accessible to a large number of people, which males it even more useful to the users (managers, donors…). It in a way becomes more legitimate, and will be updated with efficiency than when it is kept safely in a desktop GIS or database.
The Open Source tools offer numerous webmapping solutions. There are quite a number of libraries, mapping servers and development environments that help build quality applications and cutting-edge technology. The GIS editors also offer webmapping solutions, that are often out-of-the-box and that can then be customised to obtain tailor-made products. It is often simpler to use these tools, especially when one already uses the same range of products.
CartONG has set up different webmapping solutions, such as for example an open source solution (Geoserver & open layers) for the HTNS or a Google maps & Earth solution for the Google REDD project.
You probably already know Google Maps or other such applications, but you can find out more about current webmapping possibilities on arcgisonline . The latter can be considered a real web-based GIS (webGIS), with a proper GIS environment and functionalities.
The growth and usefulness of your database is often linked to the implementation of a webmapping project. Once this first step attained, your data will also play its full role in the field on mobile devices such as IPhone and Android phones.