Metsähallitus

Renewed Excursion map service for hikers

Open source

Technologies

Integrated

data sources

POSTGIS & GIS

DevOps practices

Responsive

web map service

Metsähallitus (Parks & Wildlife Finland) wanted to renew the Retkikartta.fi web map service, which is intended for applying for nature and wilderness services. The original version of the excursion map was from 2007 and Anders was chosen to renew the entire service. The plan was to develop a responsive excursion map application and infrastructure to maintain the service. The new service was released in June 2020.
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Excursionmap.fi is a free mapping web service provided by Metsähallitus, Parks & Wildlife Finland. The Excursion Map contains state and municipality-owned nature destinations, trails and structures built for hikers, such as campfire sites, lean-to shelters and wilderness huts. The map also includes state-owned fishing and hunting areas.

Challenges

Excursionmap.fi was first published in 2007. "Of course, it has since been overhauled a few times over the years and constantly evolving, but it was still a real dinosaur in terms of web services. It was about the time to redesign by update specifications and implement the latest software products." , says Tapani Mikkola, Metsähallitus' Project Manager of the Excursionmap.fi.  

A considerable number of versions of the excursion map had been created for the needs of different online services, as well as a separate mobile-optimized version. The most important development task was to get rid of this administratively laborious and cumbersome set of user interfaces. The goal was to get the one and the same Excursion Map scaling to all different terminals and also as a part of the organization’s different online services. 

The solution 

In the reform of the service, Anders wanted to maintain the features that have been found to be good through the long history of the popular map service, but also to create new up-to-date features that will further improve it. The new Excursionmap.fi was made using appropriate, and up-to-date software products. Improvements to the mobile usability was emphasized in the planning phase. 

The map service displays the location information of Metsähallitus and a few external data producers on terrain maps and other background maps, as well as aerial photographs. The excursion map shows Metsähallitus' location information, which is extracted from Metsähallitus' location information system. The most significant of the external materials is the information on camping services provided by municipalities. These are from the Lipas sports database. 

“Overall, the project was really attractive from a technical point of view and offered us a meaningful nut to crack. The excursion map is a really large entity, which combines several information sources and map services.” , says Aslan Venejoki, Anders´ Project Manager. 

The Excursionmap.fi utilizes DevOps practices in order to make painless deployments without the need for involving third parties or tedious command. Builds, tests and deployments are all done using our Kólga tool, and with the power of Kubernetes, we have the possibility to scale the application at will. 

Why was Anders selected as a service provider? 

According to Tapani Mikkola, Anders was one of the eight providers to develop and maintain the Excursionmap.fi, which was accepted for comparison. Anders' bid ultimately won by summing up the Price and Quality Factors. The tender included both large well-known ICT solution providers and smaller software companies. This time, a slightly smaller and lesser-known player became the chosen new partner. 

"This is partly the purpose of the tenders: to give opportunities to new players as well. We had no difficulty in agreeing on a supplier with a previously unknown bidder, when the important things in the bid were in order. Ultimately, it is always a question of the competence of the team selected for the delivery project and of the individuals still there: the reputation or size of the company does not mean much," says Tapani Mikkola. 

The result 

Excursionmap.fi was released in the summer of 2020, garnered a staggering million visitors in just about seven weeks. Of course, due to the pandemic, we had adn exceptional peak summer of domestic nature tourism and the season of moving around in nature in general. It still seems very strong that the renewed Excursion Map attracts visitors from the very beginning. More new features that will benefit users will be released over time, which will make our map service even more interesting. 

“Anders has proven to be a partner with whom we have enjoyed working. Expertise is strong and moreover the interaction has been going really well.” 

Tapani Mikkola, Project Manager, Metsähallitus

Read more about Excursionmap.fi