UNEP/GRID-Geneva and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) have developed MapX, an online platform for managing and visualizing geospatial data on natural resources. Field applications of MapX are varied and include biodiversity planning, chemicals management, climate change, disaster risk reduction, environmental security, extractive industries, land use planning, and renewable energy, but they are not limited to these topics. MapX targets a wide community of users that are primarily UNEP, the Secretariats of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and other UN agencies mandated to collect and use geospatial data in environmental decision making. Civil society groups, non-governmental organizations, academia and citizens complement this set of users. MapX was designed in 2014 and since then continuously improved with wide international stakeholder consultations. MapX is fully integrated into the World Environment Situation Room, which is the UNEP data, information and knowledge platform.
The MapX philosophy is to help stakeholders access and use the best available data in dialogue and decision-making processes. It requires both a technical approach as well a political process and capacity building to ensure ownership, uptake and action. The MapX philosophy in developing a stakeholder solution is based on the practical experiences gained in deploying MapX in a range of different contexts. Core elements include:
Problem/solution orientation: start with the problem users wish to solve, not the available data. Ensure solutions are fit for purpose.
Build stakeholder capacity: local stakeholders need the capacity to support the solution in the longer term.
Measure incentives and impact: understand how improved access to data changes behavioral incentives and leads to improved impact. MapX works to improve transparency by integrating economic, social and environmental factors in the approach. MapX helps users contextualize data and understand the real development impact.
Address barriers to uptake: anticipate barriers to data use and work to remove or mitigate them from the outset of an engagement.
Process matters: a credible process to define a problem and explore solutions using geospatial information is a critical success factor.
Think beyond open data: an effective solution should harness a combination of open data as well as private data held by different stakeholders.
Be independent and impartial: MapX is underpinned by UN impartiality. It can act as a trusted data broker. It can also engage directly in sensitive political processes where data impartiality must be maintained.
MapX training material is available in English, French and Spanish. The material is composed of the following items: background ; platform overview ; MapX fundamentals ; how to create views ; system architecture ; understanding and using MapX key features ; developing and using dashboards ; developing story maps ; reporting a bug on GitHub.
MapX also offers a complete Wiki and a GitHub repository where anyone can report issues, bugs and propose ideas for new feature development.
MapX has collaborated with 30 scientific projects, covering all environmental topics, operating at 4 geographical scales (global, regional, national –73 countries are covered—and local) and supporting 6 International Conventions. MapX is interoperable with dozens of data repositories and platforms.
It offers a free access to 1’700 public datasets. 3’300 users have registered on the platform and can access more data and features than public users. MapX has a bug reporting platform with 750 issues (around 80-90% of them being fixed & closed).
Dissemination, in the form of geospatial datasets, of some outputs of the Swiss Data Cube initiative, which provides Earth Observation (EO) analysis ready data (ARD) for monitoring the environment of Switzerland in space and time.
Key geospatial datasets showcasing the hidden risk of countries, for seven perils (earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, riverine floods, hydrological droughts, and tropical cyclones - wind and storm surge), considering the effects of climate change.
Story map showcasing how remote sensing techniques can support artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) policy development, implementation and evaluation.
Dissemination, in the form of geospatial datasets, one story map and one scientific paper, of the outputs of the CopX project, piloted in Colombia, addressing the challenge of increasing transparency and equalization of information at mining sites using Copernicus satellite imagery.
In collaboration with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), MapX was piloted in DR Congo to help mainstream transparency in government systems and improve stakeholder access to financial information from EITI reports linked to the location of specific mining concessions. Where possible, financial information was also related to socio-economic and environmental performance indicators to support overall performance monitoring of the sector.
Regional environment monitoring platform facilitating the compilation of information from national monitoring and assessment programmes to make environmental information generated in the Wider Caribbean Region (WCR) more accessible to stakeholders for national and regional decision-making.
Story map explaining how digital tools such as MapX can help monitor progress towards sustainable development in the Mediterranean basin.
Geospatial datasets supporting country reporting to the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs), e.g., in Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Senegal, and Tanzania.
In August 2006, the ship Probo Koala dumped 528 cubic metres of toxic waste around the port of Abdijan, Côte d'Ivoire. MapX supported spatial data management for the independent environmental audit.
System of interactive and updatable environmental profiles for the analysis of environmental situations and performances of countries around the world. Covering eight environmental pillars, including Pollution, this online tool, building on MapX, aims to provide information on key national policies and actions, and offers a single-entry point to hundreds of geospatial and statistical datasets.
MapX has contributed to various research projects and publications in international peer-reviewed journals:
Lehmann A., Giuliani P., Jarvis I., Serral I., Maso J., Lacroix P., Gilliams S., Giuliani G. Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Essential Variables (EVs) report, 2023. GEO community activity report: Mainstreaming EVs across GEO. Geneva, 75 pp. WWW
Moomen A., Lacroix P., Benvenuti A., Planque M., Piller T., Davis K., Miranda M., Ibrahim E., Giuliani G. (2022). Assessing the Applications of Earth Observation data for Monitoring artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) in Developing Countries. Remote Sensing 14(3), 2971. WWW
Lehmann A., Mazzetti P., Santoro M., Nativi S., Maso J., Serral I., Spengler D., Niamir A., Lacroix P., Ambrosone M., McCallum I., Kussul N., Patias P., Rodila D., Ray N., Giuliani G. (2022). Essential earth observation variables for high-level multi-scale indicators and policies. Environmental Science and Policy 131:105-117. WWW
Poussin C., Massot A., Ginzler C., Weber D., Chatenoux B., Lacroix P., Piller T., Nguyen L., Giuliani G. (2021) Drying conditions in Switzerland - Indication from a 35-year Landsat time-series analysis of vegetation water content estimates to support SDGs. Big Earth Data X(X):XX. WWW
Ibrahim E., Jingyi J., Lema L., Barnabé P., Giuliani G., Lacroix P., Pirard E. (2021). Cloud and cloud-shadow detection for applications in mapping small-scale mining in Colombia using Sentinel-2 imagery. Remote Sensing 13(4):736. WWW
Ibrahim E., Lema L., Barnabé P., Lacroix P., Pirard E. (2020). Small-scale surface mining of gold placers: detection, mapping and temporal analysis through the use of free satellite imagery. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 93:102194. WWW
Giuliani G., Piller T., Chatenoux B., Moser F., Lacroix P. (2020). Data Cube on Demand (DCOD): Generating Earth Observation Data Cube Anywhere in the World. International Journal of Applied Earth Observations and Geoinformation 87:102035. WWW
Lacroix P., Moser F., Benvenuti A., Piller T., Jensen D., Petersen I., Planque M., Ray N. (2019). MapX: an open geospatial platform to manage, analyse and visualise data on natural resources and the environment, SoftwareX, 9:77-84. WWW
Atibu E., Lacroix P., Sivalingam P., Ray N., Giuliani G., Mulaji C., Otamonga J.P., Mpiana P., Slaveykova V., Poté J. (2018) High contamination in the areas surrounding abandoned mines and mining activities: an impact assessment of the Dilala, Luilu and Mpingiri rivers, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chemosphere,191: 1008-1020. WWW
Ray N., Lacroix P., Giuliani G., Upla P., Rajabifard A., Jensen D. (2016). Open Spatial Data Infrastructures for the Sustainable Development of the Extractives Sector: Promises and Challenges. Ed. Coleman D., Rajabifard A., Crompvoets J. Spatial Enablement in a Smart World. GSDI Association press, 53-69. WWW