Spatial data can now tell its story on new ‘canvas’

Maps are usually associated with people who like studying or teaching geography. But the reality is that maps are used by a wide array of professions 


Maps are usually associated with people who like studying or teaching geography. But the reality is that maps are used by a wide array of professions – military personnel, emergency services, delivery services, architects, tourist guides and many more.

With the way digital technology has evolved maps have also become an integral part of our daily lives.   

Maps are not there to only provide us with information but also help us interpret it. Maps are there to tell powerful and engaging stories. When maps tell stories, they turn information into knowledge and understanding.

But for such stories to be communicated effectively there needs to be what is termed as a base map. Put simply a base map is a layer with geographic information that serves as a foundation and provide a context for different maps to tell their story.

The Planning Authority has launched a new basemap for the Maltese Islands. Produced from high-resolution orthographic imagery with an impeccable precision and ability to collect detailed information, the new basemap reflects the realities of today and will serve as a ‘canvas’ for volumes of data to tell their story.

The basemap is one of the key deliverables of the €7 million SIntegraM project which was partially financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Ing. Stephen Ferrito, the PA’s Director for Mapping, Information Technology and Digital Services, said “The launch of this new basemap is another important piece of the bigger picture which heralds a new exciting era for spatial data in Malta.

Over these past few years, the Planning Authority together with our strategic partner, have worked on the mammoth task in developing Malta’s first National Spatial Data Infrastructure, the GI Strategy and infrastructure development.

The new basemap, 30 years after the initial basemap creation, serves as the keystone and will provide the canvas for how the spatial data we collect, manage, analyse and make available can tell its story.”

The basemap offers key information on the terrain of the Maltese Islands such as buildings, open spaces, and the road network.  It is composed of 18 layers and contains over 50 different classifications.

The new Basemap is subdivided into a bottom to top approach where the surface layers act as a base layer and additional environmental features are superimposed, providing the possibility to identify ruins, cliffs, rubble walls, the characteristics of terrain and assist in the taking of informed decisions.

The Maltese basemap is widely used for environmental analysis, development planning, laying of new roads, ambulance detours, bus routes and a thousand other applications.

This basemap may be accessed from on the Planning Authority’s website through the geoportal link.

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