The term “Geographic Information System” (GIS) stands for a digital concept, a software or web-based solution as well as certain type of projects for capturing, storing, checking, analyzing and displaying data (which are popularly termed as geospatial data or geodata) related to their positions on Earth’s surface. A GIS project can be compared to a huge stack of digital maps that are piled on top of each other and analyzed with the help of geographic coordinates. Instead of comparing and analyzing maps or geodata side-by-side, in a GIS project two or more different data types included as “GIS layers” can be examined easily by overlaying, adjusting transparency and using spatial processing techniques that may include simple or complex calculations.

Each GIS layer contains information about a certain object type, such as administrative boundaries, buildings, vegetation, temperature, elevation etc… Spatial information could be an address, coordinates containing latitude and longitude or complex three-dimensional geometry. GIS data can be represented in Vector or Raster formats and can be effectively used to map spatial relationships and change. The geometrical information about an object is represented as points, lines or polygons or as a grid (similar to a digital image), and the associated information like values, names and descriptions are stored in connected databases, tables or files. This enables people to see, analyze, and understand patterns, clusters and relationships with better understanding and ease.(1)

In general, any type of information that comes with a distinct location can be compared and contrasted using a GIS application. For example, we could use GIS to learn about the number of inhabitants in an area, their income, or their education level. When dealing with landscape, GIS layers may represent the location of water bodies, different kinds of forest, various soil types etc… Quite similar to traditional topographic maps, layers might also show sites of factories, farms and schools, or storm drains, roads, and electric power lines. GIS analysts also work with aerial photographs and satellite images for geospatial data analysis. GIS systems contribute globally to key areas like Urban planning, Environmental Impact Analysis, Navigation, Agricultural Applications and Disaster Management.

Figure: Maps provide beautiful and useful visualization of data (2)

Within the MEET Project, GIS applications are used by several partners to maintain and analyze geospatial data at local, regional and continental scale. GIS projects at local scale are dealing with geodata of our demonstration sites (Soultz-sous-Forets, Havelange, Göttingen and UDDGP) and cover areas of 1 x 1 km to 10 x 10 km. Geodata of our analogue’s sites in the Ardennes, Cornwall peninsula, Harz Mountains and Noble Hills cover regions of several hundred of meters to tens of kilometers. The large-scale GIS projects contain geodata at European scale and are used to develop an updated geothermal potential map of Europe.

Furthermore, one of the project’s achievements will be a GIS-based web map viewer to enable future users within the geothermal community to access and find relevant geodata at European scale. These data are essential for better planning, risk assessment and effective decision making. In contrast to the wide range of existing web applications related to just one or few aspects of a geothermal study or project exploration or exploitation activity, the web viewer will provide geodata about various surface and subsurface elements, such as rock, heat, water, soil, administrative units, existing infrastructure and population. If certain topics can’t be implemented as a complete GIS layer due to limited data or other existing web viewers (e.g. national geothermal web applications), links and metadata will be provided.

Parallel to this, the findings of the technical and demonstration work packages 3 to 5 are united and up-scaled within work package 7 to make them visible, available and usable to the geothermal community. Therefore, various deliverables are elaborated to cover a wide range of stakeholder’s interests and needs. While some of the outcomes are encompassing and facilitating decision-making tools at a local scale, others are aimed to deal with the analysis and usability of geospatial data at various scales and scopes. We thus strive to ensure that GIS technology is put to its best use in MEET project.