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Software Open Access

Web-based Interactive Marine GIS database in Hong Kong

Gu, Yifei; Ni, Na; Chen, Han; Cheng, Martin C. F.; Williams, Gray A.


Marine GIS database in Hong Kong

This is the graduation project under the Master Program -- Environmental Management (MSc EnvMan) at The University of Hong Kong.

The Swire Institute of Marine Science obtains the copyrighted marine database in Excel format. You are encouraged to visit the original review here for further information. 

Note: If you are interested in the raw data, please contact the TIDE group.


This project aims to convert this database into GIS plotting and interactive web-based GIS applications using ArcGIS and R.

RStudio is used as R IDE, and Atom is used for version check and postcode editing.

The following are the main packages:

  1. dplyr
  2. LeafletLeaflet extras. For more info, please check Leaflet.
  3. Shiny


This app is developed for PC users, so it is suggested to use a PC to open this app to have a better user experience.




"Interactive Habitat" shows the spatial mapping of all the records, where you can navigate and zoom in & out to look for species records over a particular region. Numbers displayed in the clusters represent the record numbers of that area, and when you zoom in & out, the cluster will adjust accordingly.


"Species Explorer" is the core function of this app. It provides a search function where you can look for distribution records of particular species over time. Upon data entry, the species distribution map will be redrawn in a performance boosted way.


"Draw Habitats" allows you to estimate the distance and area of a particular region on the map, which could be useful to estimate and compare the geographical size of different intertidal habitats. 


"Data Management" is designed to separate different user flows and provided the data management interface that allows the Editor or Admin to modify or add new data. The regular user will only view the data.



Developer Guide

This web-based application relies on R/RStudio. The source code provides a detailed skeleton on how to build a similar web application. Be aware that the data directory should be upon your specification (the detailed guide is inside the 'app. R' annotation). 

For full application experience, do include the 'returnClick.js' at the same file directory as the 'app.R'.

The spatial querying for species distribution function requires your classification of your data structure.



If you find this Web-GIS software useful, please cite as Gu et al. 2019.



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