GIS Cloud Visualize, analyze and share your geo data online. Fri, 18 Nov 2016 15:39:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Celebrating GIS Day Worldwide Thu, 17 Nov 2016 19:07:10 +0000 This year, we had many exciting events during the Geo Awareness Week and GIS Day.


These events were also an opportunity to launch another GIS Day Contest, awarding best mapping projects that use geo technology in an innovative way and make an impact on local communities all around the world. There is still time left to apply – just by filling in the simple form.

GIS Day on November 16th was also a great occasion to spend our time promoting GIS technologies to students, companies, and the public sector. GIS Cloud together with partners from Spatial Vision and Teramaps seized an opportunity to demonstrate how to use geo technology to improve both daily functioning in different organizations and society in general.



GIS Cloud presentation and Tree Inventory Workshop for students at the University of Zagreb


As the most important aspect of celebrating GIS Day and increasing geo awareness through the education process, GIS Cloud team held a presentation and the Tree Inventory Workshop for students of geography and natural sciences at the University of Zagreb. The presentation, held by Jaka Ćosić, our Junior Sales Manager, explored the possibilities that cloud based GIS offers, including case studies and insights into contemporary trends in geo technology.


Tree Inventory Workshop offered a unique opportunity for students to map trees around the faculty using Mobile Data Collection app and later analyzing the data back in the classroom using Map Editor. In just 2 hours, 4 groups of students managed to collect the data on trees surrounding the faculty, visualize it on a map and learn how to classify and filter the data. With the help of Doroteja Držaić from GIS Cloud Support and Quality Assurance team, they also learned other basic skills in Map Editor, for example how to perform the heatmap analysis on the data they collected. Students have shown a lot of interest for mobile and web apps as well as digital maps.


After giving a practical insight and case studies during the presentation and the workshop, students were encouraged to apply for the GIS Day Contest with their project ideas.

Visiting students at the University of Zagreb was a great success, and the faculty staff expressed interest in continuing with similar events in the future.



GIS Cloud solution for the Carabineros – Police of Chile was presented at the 3rd Summit of Police Chiefs, IBERPOL in Chile



On the same day, GIS Cloud solution for the Police of Chile was presented at the IBERPOL, 3rd Summit of Police Chiefs in front of the President of Chile – Michelle Bachelet, 13 Chiefs of Police from different countries and 40 majors of Chile municipalities. The meeting also included representatives of police forces from 22 countries: Andorra, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal , Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela, and Chile.


The presentation, which took place in the capital of Chile, Santiago, was held by the National Police of Chile (Carabineros) Director, Victor Herrera Pintor.


The technical team that implemented “Community Police Managment Analysis” system, built on the GIS Cloud customized API, Map Editor and Map Portal apps, consisted of 2 software developers, 4 cartographers and 2 members of the police.

Patricio Llanos from Teramaps, GIS Cloud partners for Chile, responsible for introducing the system to chilean police, stated that the system was implemented very successfully, with more than 1. 200 map views in the first day of use.


On the occasion of releasing the new GIS system for the police of Chile, the President of Chile Michelle Bachelet noted that “Public safety must be confronted with a global, transversal approach, involving our entire society, facing new criminal challenges with all our professional and technological skills.”



Spatial Vision presented GIS Cloud platform at their GIS Day event in Melbourne


GIS Cloud’s partners for Australia and New Zealand, Spatial Vision, organized the first GIS Day event that was held in their Melbourne headquarters. They decided to run their own event in the 2016 in order to engage with the wider population of people, including those who didn’t have any previous experience with geo technologies.

This was a great opportunity to show the benefits of GIS and geo technologies to different people. The event included two sessions that were held by Albert Matthews, Graeme Martin, Imran Quazi, and Geoff Williams, its topics including Mobile Data Collection and the new initiative SV prospector – a sales tool for finding new customers that is based on the GIS Cloud platform.


Albert Matthews from Spatial Vision noted that they were very happy with the turnout and that they expect to organize an even bigger event in the next year.


Celebrate Geo Awareness Week with us and join the GIS Day Contest.


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GIS Day Contest Project Challenge 2016 Thu, 10 Nov 2016 16:45:42 +0000 .wpcf7-text { width:420px; } .wpcf7-form p { color: #fff; } .wpcf7-submit { color: #000; }

Last year, during Geo Awareness Week, we launched the first GIS Day Contest project challenge, which resulted in awesome mapping projects, with applications from more than 20 different countries.

For the Geo Awareness Week in 2016 (November 13-19), GIS Cloud will introduce another GIS Day Contest and a few educational events by our team and GIS Cloud partners around the world.

GIS Day Contest 2016 GIS Cloud project competition

(Apply filling in the form at the end of this post)

Our main goal is to promote initiative in creating meaningful mapping projects that make a contribution to communities around the world, while showing how innovative geo technologies might benefit to people with different backgrounds. GIS Cloud team will select the best project ideas and help winners in the project’s realization.


What do we offer? Best project idea will be awarded with:

  • support in conducting the project idea (GIS Cloud Premium licenses for free, including storage and full user support)
  • project promotion
  • GIS Cloud acknowledgment and certification of participation


Who can apply? Citizens, non-profit organizations and companies all around the world. If you are a college/university student or attending elementary/high school, part of the academic staff, an activist, start-up company, an organization or a person who wants to make a valuable contribution to a local community, you can apply for the GIS Day Contest. The only requirement is that you create a project that has a community impact and that at least one member of your team has basic English language skills that are necessary for correspondence with GIS Cloud. Also, one of the main criteria for selecting the best project ideas is that it has a social relevance.


Examples of project ideas

Read more about last year’s GIS Day contest winners projects:


Mobile Data Collection GIS project



Other examples from GIS Cloud users:


Note: You don’t have to worry about detailed project plan. We are rewarding an idea, not the fully elaborated project. GIS Cloud will provide an assistance with project elaboration and technical support for setting up the project.


Deadline for applications: November 18th, 2016 (00:00 in your timezone)

Results: One week after the applications deadline.

If you have any questions about GIS Day contest, contact us here.


Selection Criteria:

  • Community impact
  • Realization potential (is it realistic that project will be accomplished)
  • Original and innovative application of geo technology

How to apply?
Just fill in the form below:



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GIS Cloud 3D Exclusive Demo – Webinar Recording Wed, 09 Nov 2016 15:34:20 +0000 .wpcf7-text { width:420px; }

On November 3rd, 2016, we held the webinar that was dedicated to exploring the 3D visualization support within GIS Cloud environment. Watch the exclusive preview and check out some of the questions listed below, that were answered after the presentation. Cover-3D-Web-s

The possibility to explore 3D integration with GIS Cloud will be available to users who fill in the form (below the summary) to view the recording. The recording includes a quick 3D Map visualization demo using the example of San Francisco area with approximately 85 000 buildings as vector objects with elevation data. Data about nearly 10 000 crime incidents for the area, derived from crime statistics is shown in an interactive map. You will get a chance to see how 2D preview translates to 3D visualization while preserving the excellent performance GIS Cloud already provides (fast processing and rendering). After observing the key features of GIS Cloud 3D in action, several use cases are presented in the recording:

  • using GIS Cloud 3D for mineral exploration (drill holes and structures)
  • smart cities (noise impact assessment project)
  • hydrology
  • business analytics (trade area analysis).

You will also get the info on how to apply to test GIS Cloud 3D using your own data.


To access the recording, fill in the form:



The recording includes a discussion, where you can find the answers to the following questions (among others):

  • Is it possible to create a 3D digital terrain models from raster images?
  • Is it possible to script the movement of points and dynamic textures?
  • Is the solution already tested with an orthophoto and DTM or other digital terrain model?
  • What are the plans for further development of what we saw today?
  • Can detailed architectural models be imported?
  • Can it work on mobile and tablet devices?
  • How do you stream data in 3D live?
  • Can you render point clouds?
  • Does the system work on mobile and tablet devices?
  • Is it possible to bring in 3D objects (DXF, or other format)?

Have questions or want to apply for trying it out? Contact us here.


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GIS Day Contest Reports: Using GIS Cloud for Disaster Management in Jakarta Tue, 08 Nov 2016 17:10:00 +0000 As we are approaching this year’s Geo Awareness week, our GIS Day project winners are releasing their mapping efforts for the public use.

We already covered a story about Malaria Risk Map project as well as Mapping Tribal Burial Grounds in New Zealand (Te Orewai Wahi Tapu), and now it is time to present the 3rd awarded project – Jakarta Flood Support for Better Preparedness.

Adityo Dwijananto, Elida Nurrohmah, and Ranie Dwi Anugrah wanted to help the local community in Jakarta by creating flood maps for the more efficient disaster management. Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia is being crossed by 13 rivers, and this means it is prone to severe flooding. The main challenge for the local and regional disaster management agencies was in setting up an effective and efficient reporting system.


GIS Day Contest participants from the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) Indonesia collaborated with the City of West Jakarta, BPBD DKI Jakarta Province, and Wahana Visi Indonesia organization in order to develop a disaster reporting system.

They decided to use the Geo Data Collect (GDC) app developed by HOT Indonesia, combined with GIS Cloud platform.


The Project Workflow

The disaster reporting system works on a volunteer basis. People who participate in the project first need to download GDC in order to collect the current status of the disaster in the location for which they are responsible, on the sub-district level. For now, the system allows them to report events such as flood, fire, fallen trees and social conflict.

In addition to the location and type of disaster, volunteers also have to provide info about their identities, causes of the disaster, and the responses given from other institutions. Other options for the volunteers are to report the location and current status of a shelter/IDP camp together with the info about victims and help/aid needed in a specific shelter/IDP camp. The report submitted by volunteers is then stored in server.

With this system, data is available only for specific people who have the permission to log in the system. So, their main challenge was to find the way to open this data for the public use.

This is where GIS Cloud steps in to solve this gap. The team decided to use GIS Cloud platform to publish the map The data stored in downloaded in CSV format, converted into SHP format in QGIS, and finally, upload the SHP into GIS Cloud using Map Editor.

The map was opened to the public using GIS Cloud Map Portal solution, and embedded in  KPBK Jakarta Barat website. The map can be accessed by anyone interested in having real time information in cases of disaster, from any device, complete with the attribute data.



Adityo, Elida and Rainie reported that, by integrating GDC and GIS Cloud, disaster reporting in Jakarta became faster and more precise than before.

Efficient, fast and precise disaster response translates to better decision making and prioritizing, which means that more people are being saved during natural disasters such as floods. This also means that the awareness of the local community can be significantly improved by providing the access to important facts in real time such as when, where and what disaster events occur in their area.

The figure below shows how this system works:

Disaster Management Mapping

Stay tuned up for more GIS Cloud news for the incoming Geo Awareness Week!

Follow GIS Cloud on Twitter.


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GIS Cloud 3D Early Preview Thu, 20 Oct 2016 15:48:50 +0000 Dear GIS Cloud Community,

Our team is currently exploring the possibility of enabling 3D map visualization in the cloud. That’s why we are very excited to announce GIS Cloud 3D webinar, scheduled for November 3rd, 2016. The exclusive preview will give you a chance to explore the 3D functionality in an early preview and to share your feedback.

Early Preview 3D mapping visualization

Webinar Time And Date:
Tuesday, November 3rd at 8:00 am PDT    11:00 am EDT    15:00 GMT



Following Topics Will be Covered:

  • GIS Cloud in 3D Demo
  • Key information on how to apply
  • Q&A

Who Should Attend:

  • GIS Cloud users interested in 3D capabilities
  • Anyone who need fast, responsive and intuitive cloud-based 3D GIS Solution


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Introducing Australian Based Servers for Storing GIS Cloud Data Wed, 19 Oct 2016 14:32:41 +0000 Web Servers GIS in Australia

Regulations in Australia and New Zealand – such as The Australian National Privacy Act of 1988, which regulates how organizations collect, use, keep, secure, and disclose personal information – can make it difficult for organizations to move sensitive information to cloud-providers that store data outside of Australia and New Zealand.

Responding to these requirements of a growing base of our Australian and New Zealand customers, we are now offering the option to store GIS Cloud data on Amazon Web Servers in Australia.

This is a result of collaboration with Spatial Vision, GIS Cloud partner for Australia and New Zealand.


First GIS Cloud customers in the region already benefit from new options for storing data. One of the largest clients migrated GIS Cloud data to Australian servers, thus complying with the onshore data security requirements prescribed by law.

Need more info? Contact us here.


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MetaSUB Use Case: Building Healthier and Smarter Cities with the Help of GIS Thu, 06 Oct 2016 14:28:15 +0000 One of the cloud-based GIS applications in creating a smart city and a more responsive and sustainable environment is in public health. Increasing urbanization and a significant growth of international transport of people and goods creates unique challenges for the disease control and prevention in urban areas.

GIS Cloud worldwide research Mobile Data Collection

These challenges are not new, nor are the means to solve them – as you probably know, we can trace the first successful attempts at mapping the disease back in the 19th century. It was when the British doctor John Snow prevented the further spread of the cholera outbreak in London by mapping its incidences. Those incidences were traced back to a single source of contaminated water – a water pump at the Broad Street.

Today we have much more advanced technologies for disease control and prevention as well as the other aspects of public health than ever before. GIS Cloud technologies are just beginning to show their potential applications in various projects driven by the incentive to create more sustainable future for the urban population all around the world. One such example is the MetaSUB (The Metagenomics and Metadesign of the Subways and Urban Biomes) project.


The project

MetaSUB was launched by Mason Lab at Weill Cornell Medicine, as an interdisciplinary initiative whose goal is to integrate microbial ecosystems into the design of cities. Their goal is to find out more about the complex microbiome lying on the surface of public transit systems all around the world. The researchers want to use this knowledge to improve city design, planning, and public health and contribute in building more responsive and smarter cities.

The initiative started with the pilot project called PathoMap, launched in 2013 in the New York City subway system. In 2016, this pilot has expanded into the global MetaSUB project.

On June 21st, 2016, researchers from more than 58 cities all around the globe were swabbing public transit surfaces such as emergency exits, ticket kiosks, benches, stairwell handrails, garbage cans and elevators, as well as inside of trains, buses, and mass-transit hubs.

GIS Cloud data collection

Zagreb, Croatia

The geospatial component is an important part of the research – its results will be displayed in metagenetic and forensic maps that will help in discovering new species and biosynthetic gene clusters. Also, they will map pathogens such as viruses and bacteria together with Anti-Microbial Resistance Markers in public transits in different parts of the world.



Of course, undertaking the simultaneous mapping project in more than 58 cities around the world brings its challenges. In the data collection phase of the project, it was important to ensure a strict methodology that would guarantee good data quality. Using old data collection methods, like doing paperwork and adding data manually to a map (especially multimedia), for more than 100 locations across each city, would be an impractical solution that would also take too much time.

Moreover, paper-based forms bring unpredictable results because it is not easy to control if all the necessary data is there. At the same time, written form also isn’t precise enough for capturing the exact GPS location and time when data was collected. Of course, paper data could be lost and isn’t the most convenient way of adding an extensive amount of information to a map.

Rio de Janeiro Mobile Data Collection

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Except the methodology, one other common problem occurring in mapping projects operating on a global scale is coordination with and between the field crews. To get a complete picture of different transit spots in the cities, it is important to have a good overview of transit routes and to be able to make on-site decisions if something unpredictable happens.

Having this in mind, an alternative approach to data collection consists of using mobile applications that could help in doing all the work. This brings different kind of challenges such as no internet connectivity in some areas and training data collectors who do not have previous mapping experience to use new methods.



As we stated in previous paragraphs, the geospatial dimension of the MetaSUB project relies on precise field data. For practical reasons, researchers working on the project decided to collect necessary sample data with mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). As it was important to have an ability to coordinate activities in different places, they choose GIS Cloud mapping system that will allow them to observe and collect data in real time. Also, choosing cloud-based platform solved the problem of having to add all data and multimedia manually, which would require a significant amount of time. These challenges are not uncommon when we talk about fast-paced urban environments that require a high level of responsiveness. Uploading data directly to a cloud saves a lot of time while ensuring better decision-making based on accurate real-time data.

Zagreb Trams GIS Cloud

Zagreb, Croatia

The first event of the worldwide swabbing action on June 21, 2016 was a great success, using GIS Cloud Mobile Data Collection application. Cloud-based GIS platform enabled the researchers to capture data in real-time and have it instantly visible on a map in a web browser. This means that real-time data could be accessed by different people from any location in the world. The web map data was accessible through any device (mobile, tablet, laptop), which is practical when you need to monitor a project taking place in different time zones.


Data Collection process

To begin with, surfaces inside of the vehicles and on train stations of the each transit system were swabbed. After swabbing, relevant data, such as location and time stamps (collected automatically), sample ID, surface, traffic level, notes, and pictures were added through the forms in the Mobile Data Collection app. This information was visible on a dedicated point layer of web map showing the swabbing process in real time.

GIS Cloud MetaSUB France

Marseille, France

Different form sets are also available for other public surfaces such as buses, taxis, parks, and airports. Each collector opened data collection form and added the required info. To avoid missing data, all required fields had to be filled before sending information on a map. This was an important step in ensuring good data quality. Also, GPS and time stamps were added automatically for the maximal precision. Another important aspect was that collectors anywhere in the world used the same collection forms to get a complete picture of the environmental factors relevant for understanding sample results.

Taking samples in public transportation GIS Cloud

The forms were easy to use for anybody who knows how to operate a smartphone or a tablet. Ease of use meant that there was no need for additional staff training thus saving time and money, and this was especially important on a project of such a large scale.

Having all this data available in the cloud solved the challenge of coordination and decision-making. For example, In Zagreb (Croatia), routes were planned considering the local temperatures on particular train stations.

The additional benefit of cloud-based GIS system was that all this data could be published on the web for anyone who wants to see how the project is progressing.

So, after sample data is collected, it is instantly visualised on a map and can be published to a Map Portal for public viewing with the help of the Map Editor app.

GIS Cloud web map sample collection

We can conclude that spatial visualisation and map-based data collection can bring together various aspects of elements vital for cities around the world: transport and traffic, emergency response, disease control and prevention, smart architecture, and design. The responsiveness of cities and local communities can be significantly increased through cloud mapping collaboration system that works in real-time and is accessible through all devices. Mobile Data Collection combined with web mapping and collaboration apps can play an essential role in building smarter cities.


Applications used:

Interested in GIS Cloud solutions for Smart Cities? Contact us at:


Links to other Smart City resources:


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FIDA &CO. Studios presenting GIS Cloud at the Intelligent Cities Exhibition & Conference Wed, 28 Sep 2016 15:27:31 +0000 GIS Cloud’s partners, FIDA & CO. Studios (F&CS) are exhibiting and promoting GIS Cloud solutions at the leading smart and sustainable cities event in Egypt – Intelligent Cities Exhibition and Conference (ICEC 2016).

ICEC 2016 GIS Cloud Egypt

The event is taking place at Fairmont Heliopolis Hotel in Cairo, Egypt, 28 – 29 of September, 2016. The two day exhibition and conference brings together over 1,000 senior level decision makers and over 3,000 participants to discuss and showcase latest technologies, sustainable solutions and products as well as best practices on managing and building the cities of tomorrow.

FIDA & Co. Studios will present GIS Cloud solutions at the Booth number EX.5 .

ICEC 2016 GIS Cloud Egypt Ahmed Amin F&CS


Smart cities are one of the biggest growth areas and trends impacting the ICT and real estate sectors today. Driven by the demand for advanced and ‘always on’ solutions and services, the Middle East region is expected to play a leading role. The need to improve existing infrastructure and intelligently maximize current resources is further fuelling the need to develop smart cities. Smart cities bring value added benefits to governments and developers by increasing investment returns, while new services built on cutting edge technologies enrich citizens’ quality of life.

(Quote from the official conference page)

The conference is underway, so hurry up and catch up with our partners from FIDA & Co. Studios to learn all about GIS Cloud cutting edge technology for smart cities in person!
Follow updates from the conference on F&CS Official Facebook page.


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Geospatial Technology for Building Smarter Cities Thu, 08 Sep 2016 16:20:45 +0000 What is the role of geospatial technologies in building smarter cities?

Smart City GIS Cloud technology

The concept of smart cities became one of the most frequently mentioned buzzwords in the terms of building and designing sustainable urban environments in the 21st century. But, this does not necessarily mean that we all understand what exactly a smart city is, and more importantly – how to build one?

For this purpose, we have chosen one of the many definitions of a smart city, that captures this conditional uncertainty:

The concept is not static, there is no absolute definition of a smart city, no end point, but rather a process, or series of steps, by which cities become more ‘livable’ and resilient and, hence, able to respond quicker to new challenges.

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, UK 2013

Although there is no absolute definition of a smart city, we can easily pinpoint the key areas crucial for building more sustainable, resilient and responsive cities – those are smart transportation, public administration, governance and public services including utilities as well as the health system and education.


In almost all of these areas, a geospatial component together with new technologies has an important role. Relevant data about traffic (roadworks, traffic jams, optimal routes…), road infrastructure  (signs, potholes, road damages), public health (hospital infrastructure, spreading of the diseases) or important community practices (citizen initiatives, projects and cultural heritage) can be easily visualized, organized and interpreted using interactive web maps.


The best way to interpret and understand data is through the means of collaboration between different city departments, field crews, citizens, and businesses – all of which becomes possible in the cloud-based mapping system. Interactive maps on different devices become a smart workboard where different stakeholders such as city officials, citizens, and local businesses discuss, interact and make decisions based on a real-time insight.


So, having in mind that building smarter cities is a process and not a point in time, using geospatial technologies is an important, if not the first, step in making use of all the ‘big data’ we already have and are receiving daily – traffic routes, disease emergencies, fire hazards, water infrastructure, tourism, telecommunications and many others.

Data is usually locked in endless spreadsheets and various documents on workstations and servers. Placing all that data on a collaborative map means that we can make informed decisions instantly, using any device and from anywhere in the world.

How can it be done?

Let’s move on to concrete and practical examples:

1. GIS Technologies can increase efficiency in public services and utilities by increasing collaboration between departments, crews, and different stakeholders

2. Public maps are a great way to inform and engage citizens, therefore improving governance and city administration

3. Geospatial component can assist emergency response and help saving lives

4. Digital maps can be a great way to bring communities together and preserve cultural heritage

5. GIS applications are an essential part in improving daily commute and city transportation systems

6. Geospatial awareness plays an important role in controlling diseases and improving public health

7. Cloud-based collaboration on a map improves communication, decision-making, and efficiency in conducting different projects such as watershed cleanup events and landfill remediation


And these are only some of the examples of utilizing mapping technologies in order to build more sustainable future and smarter cities.


Interested in GIS Solutions for Smart Cities?

Contact us at:


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Mapping Tribal Burial Grounds in New Zealand Tue, 06 Sep 2016 16:17:54 +0000 Mobile Data Collection in New Zealand

In the digital age, many cultural practices important for local communities are facing the threat of being forgotten. One of our most inspiring user stories, demonstrating the great potential of GIS Cloud mapping technologies, comes from Pipiwai, Northland (New Zealand).

Delaraine Armstrong, Betty Cherrington, and  Margaret Tipene, who won the 2nd prize in the GIS Day Contest, are currently mapping 4 tribal burial grounds with a goal to permanently digitally record each grave marker, location, and name for safe keeping of their ancestor’s places of burial.

This project is designed to preserve important cultural practices and knowledge for the Te Orewai, Maori subtribe located at the foot of the Motatau mountain.

We bring you their story, together with a follow-up on the project’s development.


The Importance of Humility


Delaraine Armstrong begins with a story about Maori culture and the heritage that is shaped around  deeply rooted awareness of the land and location. The burial practices play an important role in uniting their local community:


Mapping Burial Grounds in New Zealand

An example of the traditional Te Orewai burial ground (wahi tapu)


In our Maori culture, we are very connected to the land. The mountains and rivers are personified ancestors for Maori. The picture shows the Hoterene whanau (Shortland family) cemetery of small white crosses, which has been the burial place of the Hoterene whanau for the last 150 years, and the mountain behind is our ancestral mountain, Motatau.

There is a story told amongst our large whanau (family) about why there are only small white wooden crosses in this wahi tapu (cemetery). We are told that our key progenitor, Ganny Heeni, decided that after her parents were buried there, everyone who was buried afterwards would only have small white wooden crosses on their graves. Humility was an important value to this great dowager ancestor.

For the members of Te Orewai, this meant that all grave markers in their burial grounds should stay the same, so that everyone would be equal. This also applies to flowers that are left on the graves. If somebody places a flower on a grave of his/hers ancestor, they should also place a flower on all other graves in the wahi tapu. According to Delaraine, this very tradition is what binds them together as one large whanau (extended family).


Collecting wahi tapu records

Collecting records in the field


The Role of Burial Practices in Maori Culture


Delaraine describes the cultural meaning of the burial practices in the historical context:

Until Europeans came to Aotearoa in the mid-1800’s, we had different cultural burial practices. While the bodies are now interred differently than in the past, we retain our tangihanga (the unique practice of mourning and receiving mourners who come to pay respects over the 3 days after death, to acknowledge the deceased and the whanau pani– grieving family of the deceased in our marae).

She describes marae as the “long house” equivalent for Wahi Tapu – the central place where clans and tribes gather for a different family, community and tribal events and practices. They serve as the physical manifestation of their cultural identity and connections to their ancestral lands. Delaraine states that the Maori language is spoken during these practices, following specific cultural protocols. Those protocols anchor the community to their culture. At the same time, they also serve as a way to distinguish their community in its uniqueness.

Wahi Tapu Mapping Project

An example of the Te Orewai burial service and marae (‘long house’)

For all of these reasons, burial practices play an important role in preserving the Maori culture and language. Apart from the events following the burial of the deceased, memory of the past ancestors is an important identifier bearing a deep meaning in relation to different Maori subtribes.

For Delaraine, cultural connections and future identity as a hapu (subtribe) and tribe are the reasons why she thinks it is critical preserving the names and grave markers of their ancestors. Over the years, she was in contact with many different people who wanted to find out more about their ancestors. What she and her team hope for the future is to enable all who are seeking their tupuna (ancestors) to easily locate them on an interactive map. They also hope that in the future, other tribes and subtribes may follow their footsteps and do the same.


The Project: Mapping the Ancestral History


The Wahi Tapu (burial places) data collection project began last year (in 2015), after Delaraine, Betty and Margaret won the second prize in GIS Cloud competition.

A small team of data collectors gathered to record the names on all graves in the wahi tapu of Te Orewai (subtribe) using Mobile Data Collection. There are about 900 names recorded from the 1800’s to the present that they know of in their wahi tapu. Delaraine, Betty, and Margaret think of his project as a great chance to do a community service for the community of Te Orewai.

Te Orewai have 3 main and several smaller wahi tapu locations in their valley. Largest wahi tapu, Nga Tairua, has over 500 names recorded by data collectors. Other burial grounds are smaller, and mapping them has its own challenges. A lot of graves are left unmarked so some of the records are lost forever. One small wahi tapu beside the Mormon chapel next to the Marae has very old graves so it is not that easy to collect names and dates, although Delaraine and her team hope to map them. Huanui is another small wahi tapu where the grave markers no longer show who is buried there, so collectors depend on those who hold the records of the graves.

In the past, there have been records for all wahi tapu, but they have gotten lost with the successive passing of people who have held those records. This task was considered as a very important one. Nowadays, as more people and families are leaving the small rural settlements of the country regions, they are bringing these records with them. This way the records are slowly being lost.

That is why it is important to digitalize this huge part of the Maori culture. For Delaraine, it is an imperative to keep these records for the future and to be able to reclaim one’s past.

Mobile Data Collection project

Recording grave marks directly in the field using Mobile Data Collection

GIS Cloud enabled us to create a project that will collate all names and grave markers of Te Orewai to the present. We wanted to provide access to an online database of names and burial grounds, to families and extended family looking for their ancestors,  no matter where they live. GIS Cloud provided the software licences for our team to gather the information and set up a form to collect the data. This includes names, date of birth and death, location and the photo of the grave marker, because many of the grave markers deteriorate over time.

Delaraine and her team have almost finished data collection and are now “cleaning up” the data, to ensure all details are as accurate as they can be. They are in the process of creating the online database that whanau can access in the future to know exactly where their family member or ancestor is buried, with the exact GPS location and other relevant data such as dates and photos.

The support from GIS Cloud has been great. Even though we have different time zones, GIS Cloud has been quick to respond to any queries, providing advice to make the process easier. None of us had experience in using GIS mapping tools, but there was no hardship with the support of the GIS Cloud team. We are very grateful for the opportunity to create a permanent record for the future, that our whanau can access anywhere, at any time.

Te Orewai Wahi Tapu project demonstrates an incredible application of GIS Cloud and Mobile Data Collection for the purpose of preserving an important part of heritage for Maori in New Zealand. We hope to see more from Delaraine and her team in the next two months when they will release their Wahi Tapu records for the public.


In the meantime, you can show them support by liking their project page on Facebook.



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