Understanding MapIT Greater Sudbury

A getting started guide.

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Greater Sudbury’s IT department has modernized and continues to evolve corporate geocentric information, systems and processes to help serve you better. A core component is an ecosystem of technologies including the collaborative Web GIS portal that we’ve named MapIT Greater Sudbury . This portal provides a mechanism for non-traditional GIS people (people like you) to create and share web maps, data, interactive stories and applications. For city employees, this sharing can take place both inside and outside of the Organization. Also, MapIT Greater Sudbury gives you avenues to extend our maps or create your own.

ArcGIS connects maps, apps, data, and people so you can make smarter, faster decisions. It gives everyone … the ability to discover, use, make, and share maps from any device, anywhere, anytime. — Esri Inc.

- See http://www.arcgis.com/features/ and http://doc.arcgis.com/en/arcgis-online/index.html for more information.

MapIT vs. opendata.greatersudbury.ca

The MapIT and the Greater Sudbury open data site employ the same portal technology called ArcGIS Online. Data is posted to MapIT and then shared to the open data portal if it participates in the Open Data initiative.

Getting Started

What’s in a thumbnail?

MapIT allows us to build an intricate web of data layers, maps and responsive web apps using data hosted on MapIT itself or on City or partner’s geodata servers. To help point out what you’re looking at, we’ve standardized our thumbnails — here are some examples:

The following is the anatomy of the thumbnail format. Detailed instructions on what you can do with the various types, including ‘recipes’ that you can try, are made available in another article.

Anatomy of the MapIT & Open Data thumbnail

At a glance, a thumbnail reveals what type of content you’re viewing and for what major map theme. These themes correspond to the content categories on the open data portal. Note: some content may relate to multiple categories… we take our best guess as to which one is the most relevant.

Logically, the portal consists of data that is most commonly published as a layer. One or many layers can be added to a map. On the portal, maps are the foundational components of everything that is cool and awesome aka apps.

Key concept: Maps (containing layers) are used by apps.

Clear as mud :-) More on this in future posts. In the meantime, here’s more information on types, themes and preview.


There are various types of content posted on the MapIT portal. The ones above represent those that will most commonly appear. Note: More are being added as we and the technology evolve.

A. Layer = a set of one or more types of data containing location. Examples:

B. Map = an interactive map containing one or more layers. Examples:

Note: Maps can also contain interactive presentations.

C. App = packages up a map with interactivity, often geared for specific use.

  • An interactive mapping application that includes searching, measuring, pre-defined filters, bookmarks and more — Recreation.
  • An interactive story map application — Community Gardens.

Hint: These apps use ‘responsive design’. As a result, they’ll adapt to what device you are using. Try them on a modern smartphone or tablet!

D. File = an uploaded file that does not contain location data aka a non-spatial dataset.

E. Link = this is a link to content on another website and is often used to link to sites, PDF files, etc.

F. API= an application programming interface used by developers to access data and build their own cool apps.

  • The Greater Sudbury MyBus API used to fetch data from the transit system.

2. Theme

Over time, you will get familiar with the color scheme being used to represent the major data themes which are consistently used by both MapIT and the Open Data portals. The scheme is:

3. Preview

The preview section of the thumbnail simply provides a screenshot of the content as it may appear on the portal.

Get Cooking with MapIT Recipes & Ideas!

On the next post, I’ll dive into how you can cook up your own maps and apps using MapIT Greater Sudbury and Open Data. These will be presented as ‘recipes’ that you can try or modify if you have a specific requirement or are just feeling creative. In the meantime, if you have any questions, send me an email (I’ll do my best to get back to you within 10 working days).

Paul Giroux, MSc(GIS), GISP, Certified Enterprise Architect
Water/Wastewater Systems Supervisor

City of Greater Sudbury

Note: Icons used in this article by icons8