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GR-Atlas 2.0 – a new mapping for the atlas of the Greater Region

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Published on Wednesday, 28 November 2018

The renewed atlas of the Greater Region (GR-Atlas) is a collection of interactive thematic maps for the SaarLorLux Greater Region and a web geographic information system (WebGIS), which benefits researchers, but also schools, residents and tourists.

The first GR-Atlas was put online in 2009, as a research project led by Prof. Michel Pauly and project partners. The website is available in German or French. It consists of an interactive map section with currently close to 50 thematic maps and text units linked with the maps.

The interdisciplinary atlas covers a broad spectrum of topics, including natural environment, history, economy, society, transport and religion. It also contains unique topics like fuel tourism or the perception of the Greater Region in the media. Users can choose subcategories, whose locations are displayed on the map and icons indicate relevant information, historical data and website links.

Notable highlights include time-controlled maps which display the chronological development of a phenomenon: for example how the borders have shifted between 1815 and today, or the development of the railway network in the Greater Region. In addition, the ability to combine maps allows one to recognise connections that would hardly have been noticed in the past.

A new look through new technologies

“Big changes have occurred in the field of interactive cartography in the last years. These were largely pushed by the constant advancements of Google Maps,” explains Dr Malte Helfer, the project coordinator at the University. “That is why the map portion of the GR-Atlas was given a whole new technical foundation in 2017.”

The use of the altasFX technology from Trier-based GIS (Geographic Information System)  company alta4 accommodates the user’s habits with an intuitive user interface, oriented around a Google Maps standard. An equally important aspect is the security gained from the change, which ensures that the interactive cartographic data on the internet can be used long-term.

What’s new?

The key new elements of the GR-Atlas 2.0 are:

  • an intuitive user interface that already shows initial information when you hover over areas;
  • separation of the maps by topics in order to speed up the loading time of atlas;
  • integration of numerous base maps, from the physical map to the satellite image;
  • a newly developed tool for time-controlled interactive maps; with a slider the user can either choose a time, or let the time run out;
  • adjustable transparency of different map layers. This allows the comparison of historical maps with the contemporary map or the satellite image;
  • targeted links to individual maps or map sections from the text section.

The next goal for the GR-Atlas is the modernisation of the text section.

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