Havfriluftsliv – webGIS crowdsourcing platform for water-based activities

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We’ve just opened our webGIS crowdsourcing platform for water sport!

The platform is a webGIS, based on GoogleMaps, and invites everyone using Danish waters to add the location of their water-based activities. We include 99 activities, under 12 categories (kayak, swimming, fishing, ..). I discovered many water-based activities, but also that many activities have several variants (kayak includes in Denmark, sea kayaking, kapkayak, turkajak, .. since it originated in Greenland, it’s not surprising there are so many different types here).

The aim of the platform is to understand where and how much water-based activities take place in Denmark; so that when Marine Spatial Planning is discussed in Denmark, we can demonstrate the importance of water leisure and tourism.


We are currently advertising the platform through a couple of main channels: official federation and clubs, which will pass it to their members, and through Facebook groups. Since there are so many Facebook groups for water-based activities, this might be a good way to reach people with interest in sharing their usual spot.

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 20.28.20

The platform

I coded the platform that we’re using. I tried to make it user-friendly and straight and simple. We wanted to collect a large amount of data related to each location, so it was really hard to make it compact. We were also very worried that some activities were difficult to represent with a point, so we’re adding soon the ability to add lines instead of points, and to upload GPX files (created by GPS devices.

User friendly

For respondents that are not familiar with webGIS, we created a short guided tour that presents the GoogleMaps tools and what they are supposed to do.

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 20.15.18

We also added a FAQ, which explains again what respondents are supposed to, how, and which lists all the activities we include (it was a challenge finding a compact way to present all the activities in one screen!).

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 20.34.17 Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 20.34.04

GIS data

It is a bit of a challenge to create a platform where anyone can enter the location of so many different activities: how would respondents show where they do snorkelling? fishing? swimming? Some activities, like boating, cover a large area, while others, like bathing, are very static. We addressed this challenge in two ways: at each point, respondents can indicate if the point they are adding is the start of the activity, a stop, or the end. Our primary idea was to have multiple points for one activity, but that was too difficult to express and convey to respondents. So we are not expecting it will be used this way. We hope that allowing GPX-file upload (it was actually requested by one of the beta-tester), or digitising a line, will be easier for respondents.


We thought that some respondents might not remember some places they use, or simply would be interested in seeing the results ‘live’. So at the end of their data entry, they were offered to visit another page, showing the results.

The future

We’re planning to collect data for a while, but we’re also thinking of finding a way to invite people with less interest in water activities, but also official clubs, to find out where facilities are located.