H. Ohno, K. Kawase, H. Fujimura, Y. Yamamoto

Geographical Survay Institute, Geographical Information Department, Tsukuba city, Japan


Geographical Survey Institute (GSI), the national mapping governmental agency of Japan, has been promoting Digital Japan framework since July 2003 on the web ( ). Digital Japan is a concept of a virtual space where users can utilize geographical information selecting from data sets stored and maintained by different organizations in the internet and integrating them for certain purpose based on the geo-referenced data. It can be shared by the computers attached to the Internet, and controlled by Digital Japan API written in JavaScript. It is implemented as very similar system to Google Maps, but it was released two years ago in advance of Google Maps. Digital Japan has been also caught on by over 400 web sites and over 3 million plug-in downloads as Google independent system, after Google Maps was released.


Digital Japan was previously only accessed by personal computers with free plug-in system for Internet Explorer and Netscape/Mozilla distributed from GSI. This plug-in system can display cartographic symbol equivalent of printed Japanese governmental topographical map, especially it can display highly-detailed contour line at outer city and mountain area. Digital Japan users can overlap their own geographical information on the map of Digital Japan as background. For example, it can overlap to display dangerous area for landslide disaster as surface data and evacuation area as symbol on the Digital Japan map. All of cartographic data are designed as attribute included vector information that is written in XML conforming to the ISO19100 series of International Standards or Digital Japans format, so Digital Japan users can use the vector map data both purposes as cartographical use and analysis use with GIS.


We developed improved Digital Japan framework in 2006 and supported wider operating environment, for example, cellular phones and digital television. The improved system can also use raster style map data that are made cartographic drawing by server side. This development allowed extraordinary extending scope of application of Digital Japan to mobile and real time activity, such as governmental response to natural disaster. Especially, the cellular phone that is used over 94 million terminals has become major device to access to the web in Japan. They can access free map service by this improvement of Digital Japan framework. This huge operating environment would surely bring new application model of map use. In our paper, new point of view brought by improved Digital Japan framework in governmental activities is discussed.