A new map in town: MapKit JS by Apple

Back in 2011, #TeamEBP has written about the usage of geo.admin.ch and compared it to other map services like Google. A year later, Apple joined the party of map providers and introduced Apple Maps to the world, with one caveat: It was only available on Apple devices. With Apple’s developer conference last week, this has changed: Apple introduced a new Javascript library called MapKit JS from Apple – this means that you can now embed a webmap by Apple on any of your websites. Currently the API is in beta, but the documentation is already available, including sample code. If you need even more information: check the WWDC session video, the demos begin at 26:00, 43:45, the slides are at available as PDF.

Unfortunately the basemap quality is not that good for Switzerland (compared to California, at least), so this blog post is not suggesting you to migrate and use it in production. However, you can get inspired, the codebase is a sum of rich and beautiful APIs with many concepts borrowed from the MapKit native which exists in iOS since its first release, more than 10 years ago.

One important thing to note is pricing: As we’ve written in 2011, no webmap comes for free, if used heavily. Apple’s expected pricing strategy according to the presentation is interesting: you can use 250’000 map initializations and up to 25’000 service requests (geocoding, search with autocomplete, directions) for free, per day (sic!). This is about 10 times more than what Google charges you with their recent price change (One caveat: it’s hard to compare pricing for mapping APIs directly, so take this number with a grain of salt). Note however, that you need an API key in order to use MapKit JS, for which an Apple Developer account is necessary (which again costs you CHF 109 per year).

I’ve also made a simple CodePen Demo with a WMTS layer from ArcGIS Online and walking directions from Apple’s routing service. The WMTS layer shows a quality of service map for public transportation stops, computed with Walkalytics.

See the Pen EBP MapKitJS Demo by Stephan Heuel (@ping13) on CodePen.

Here is a direct link to the JS code of the demo.

Are you interested in using MapKit JS standalone or in combination with other mapping services? Get in touch with Stephan Heuel or myself, we would love to talk with you. 

2018 Esri Partner Conference and Developer Summit – Part 1

The timing worked superbly, like the best Swiss clockwork: A few days before winter made a comeback in Switzerland, I sat in a plane to Los Angeles. Nevermind that California also had slightly cooler temperatures than usual – it was definitely preferable over the polar cold air masses that firmly occupied Switzerland. Even the place names felt evocative: Santa Cruz, Big Sur, and San Francisco. For two weeks I would cruise California, before making my way back to L.A. and then Palm Springs in order to attend the 2018 Esri Partner Conference and Developer Summit together with my colleague, Nicole Sulzberger, in order to gather the most recent news for our clients and to network with Esri employees and partners from around the world. In what follows, we describe what we learned during the two Esri events: the latest news about developments at Esri.

The Science of Where

The Science of Where is Esri’s tagline since 2017. In the plenary session, Jack Dangermond, the president of Esri, made clear what it summarizes: The world is seeing many big challenges. Loss in biodiversity, competition for resources, increased mobility demands, demographic shifts, and climate change, to name a few. The science of where helps to address all of these and more. It is, in Esri’s understanding, the combination of the competence of geography (process knowledge, spatial thinking and reasoning) and the technology around GIS. Applying the science of where helps answering spatial questions with:

  • increased efficiency to save resources
  • better analysis to actually understand what is going on, and
  • better communication to foster good decisions

All this rings true for me as a geographer and in our team we agreed that this vision matches well with our own.

What Esri showed during the Partner Conference and Developer Summit can be linked very well to at least one, often several, of these three promises, for example:

  • increased efficiency around working with big data, on desktop or mobile, or administrating one’s geodata infrastructure,
  • better analysis capabilities within (e.g., ArcGIS Insights, GeoAnalytics Server) and around Esri’s core products (e.g., GeoAI DSVM, R-ArcGIS-Bridge, Jupyter Notebooks), and
  • better communication through effective visualization (e.g. on mobile using the ArcGIS Javascript API 4.x, using the AR or VR mode and their innovative user experience, or leveraging the computational and graphics performance of game engines for visualizing 3D content)

Select Highlights

ArcGIS API for JavaScript

The developments of the JavaScript API 4.x has been a big topic in this years Developer Summit. The WebApp Builder and the ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise Map Viewer are both moving to the ArcGIS JavaScript API 4.x. There are, for example, new out-of-the-box responsive widgets and an enhanced search widget. Feature Layers now support loading large amounts of features for visualization and analysis with improved client-side Web GL-based rendering, improved Feature Service capabilities, and the possibility to build a Feature Layer from in-memory data (such as a CSV file with coordinates that is loaded into a map using drag-and-drop). Finally, in JavaScript API 4.x, the geometry engine is available locally, thus you can get faster responses for geometry operations. This enables us to implement locally (and thus with immediate response), for example, snapping, simple topology checks, interactively calculating areas when cutting polygons and much more.

 

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Augmented (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) functionality has been built into the ArcGIS Runtime SDK. The AR mode gives a transparent background to a scene so that it can be shown on top of a device’s camera feed. The VR mode allows displaying a scene in stereo and an appropriate VR user interface. There is an Esri Labs ArcGIS 360 VR app for the Samsung Gear VR headset on Oculus that highlights the new VR capabilites of Esri software. Further, Esri showed their tabletop UX for planning: there, a 3D scene (from e.g. City Engine) is displayed on a virtual tabletop. Viewers can virtually gather around the table and interact with the model, e.g. selecting different planning scenarios for visualization. The viewers themselves can be in remote locations. Upon viewing the scene they can also see other viewers and what they are looking at. Finally, any viewer can teleport into the scene itself and look at the model from different in-scene vantage points.

The following video from the plenary sessions highlights some AR/VR capabilities of ArcGIS Runtime (jump to 4:00 for seeing first a VR, then an AR demo):

 

3D and Indoors GIS

Esri 3D Web Scenes will be consumable on mobile devices, using a responsive interface. Features from 3D scene layers are quickly streamed to the device. Users can use advanced measurement tools to, for example, measure plan surface areas in a 3D scene:

 

Some powerful 3D features in native apps such as interactive line-of-sight analysis have been shown in another plenary session, the video of which is available from Esri.

Further, 3D scenes support a new rendering mode that gives building edges a „sketch“ look. This is interesting, for example, for visualization of planned projects where you do not yet want to convey a very crisp and precise impression of a provisionally planned scenario.

Since the previous Partner Conference and Developer Summit, ArcGIS Indoors has matured further. This new suite of tools comprises ArcGIS Indoors Desktop (built on top of ArcGIS Pro if I’m not mistaken), the ArcGIS Indoors Web Viewer, and the ArcGIS Indoors Mobile App. They in turn support data preparation and map design, simple editing and dashboard functionality, and indoor-navigation using device sensors through the indoors positioning feed.

ArcGIS Indoors: Esri Campus Viewer (http://3dcampus.arcgis.com/EsriCampusViewer/app)

When you zoom out from your building(s) view, the transition into geographic space and navigation by GPS only should be seamless. The navigation functionality relies on an appropriate 3D network dataset (somewhat in contrast to our own pedestrian modeling tool Walkalytics).

Click through to Part 2 of this review.

 

2016 Esri Partner Conference and Developer Summit

Traditionally two members of #TeamEBP visit Esri’s annually DevSummit in order to hear the latest from the world of ArcGIS – and beyond. This year, my colleague Sarah Schöni and I had the chance to fly to California. In this post, we’d like to summarize the highlights from our point of view:

  • The overall theme: „Web GIS is a System of Engagement“
  • The Keynote: Douglas Crockford
  • The State of Esri Technology
  • Python is now a first class citizen in Esri’s world
  • What else is new and cool? Insights and Vector Tiles!
  • One more thing…
Sarah and me with two friendly developers…
Sarah and I with two friendly developers…

The overall theme: „Web GIS is a System of Engagement“

Esri usually has an overall theme that they want to get across, such as mobile in 2011, online in 2012 or platform in 2014. This year’s theme „engagement“ is based on Geoffrey Moore’s paper on „Systems of Engagement and the Future of Enterprise IT“: In the past, organizations have built transactional tools and systems specifically designed for their business processes. The systems are mostly static, very accurate, mostly complete and tightly controlled – they are systems of records. With the advent of consumer IT, we’re moving closer to systems of engagement, where the focus is on interaction, collaboration, openness and immediate answers.

Esri has transferred Moore’s theory of systems of engagement to GIS: They use the term „Web GIS“ as a synonym for a geo-information system of engagement: In this sense, a Web GIS is built on distributed servers, web clients, several focussed apps and it provides an open, real-time environment for engagement in your organization. If you are interested, you can read Jack Dangermond’s post about Esri’s vision.

Slide for WebGIS as a System of Engagement
Slide for System of Engagement

The Keynote: Douglas Crockford

One highlight of a conference is the keynote and this year we were fortunate to be able to listen to Douglas Crockford who is one of the leading figures in the development of the JavaScript language. His keynote was both entertaining and insightful. Although my main programming language of choice is not JavaScript, I highly enjoyed his talk. You can re-watch the keynote here. One highlight was the comparison between the relationship of Java and JavaScript and the relationship of Star Trek and Star Wars:

java-js-startrek-starwars

Of course, JavaScript has to be Star Wars!

The State of the Esri Technology

It seems that Esri’s server technology has reached maturity. ArcGIS for Server consists of two core components: the backend (the actual ArcGIS server software) and the frontend (the so-called Portal for ArcGIS). The backend has been around for nearly a decade (anyone remembers 9.0?) and the frontend is basically a self-hosted version of ArcGIS Online.

Currently, Esri is in a transition phase for three important technology components, namely Desktop, Runtime and JavaScript API:

  • Desktop: ArcGIS Pro has been announced 2 years ago and is now in version 1.2. It is close to becoming mainstream, but Esri stresses that ArcMap – the long-running desktop solution – will continue to be developed and supported for the next 10 years. However, new features (like generation of vector tiles) are unlikely to be developed for the „old“ platform.
  • Runtime: For developing independent GIS applications, ArcGIS Engine was the go-to solution in Esri’s world. With ArcGIS Runtime and the announcement of the Quartz architecture, there is now a new architecture to depend on in the future. At the time of writing, there is no final release yet (though beta versions for mobile are available). It is expected that versions for iOS and Android will be released in the second quarter, while the other versions (.Net, Tamarin, Java, Qt) will be released in the Q3.
  • JavaScript API: The ArcGIS JavaScript API is currently in version 3. I always recommend developers to have a look at the sample code page to get a feel of what the API can do for them. There is a lot to explore, but one thing you might be missing in version 3 is 3D (no pun intended). Last month, we’ve already written on the upcoming version 4 which handles 2D and 3D equivalently and allows to easily switch between the two dimensions while writing the code. Additionally, the API calls are much simpler now – with the drawback that older code probably has to be rewritten. For this reason I think it is more than a change in version numbers, but actually a similar big transition as we experience with Desktop and Runtime. Again, I recommend to have a look at the sample pages for the beta version to get a feel of what can be done now and in the future. The nice Esri folks at the DevSummit told me that there will be a comparison page between the functionalities of the two API versions, so stay tuned for more info. Update 2016-05-09: The page is now available and very comperehensive.

My recommendation regarding the transition of the three Esri components mentioned above: For every new project, you now have to carefully choose between the old and the new technology. There is no general advice on what is best, because it depends on the requirements of your project. If in doubt, you may consider to ask us to help you out ;-).

Python is a first class citizen in the Esri world

Talking about migration: Python has been recommended as your first option for extending ArcGIS platform functionalities. One reason is that migrating Python code from ArcMap to ArcGIS Pro is much simpler than migrating .Net code, because the ArcPy library has not changed much (except arcpy.mapping and of course some necessary adaptions due to the shift from Python 2.x to Python 3.x). So, to quote an Esri staff member: „Use more Python and less ArcObjects“.

But there was a lot more on Python, like ArcGIS integration with the packaging manager Conda and the outlook that Jupyter notebooks (formerly known as IPython notebooks) will be part of the ArcGIS platform (probably late 2016, maybe early 2017). I’m quite excited about the Jupyter integration, because then you may edit, explore and share your ArcGIS Python sessions and even take advantage of the power of SciPy, pandas and other great Python modules. Unfortunately, there weren’t too many details available on this.

ipython-arcgis
A screenshot of an ArcGIS Jupyter notebook.

What else is new and cool? Insights and Vector Tiles!

Last, but not least, we want to talk about two new cool things that have been unveiled at this year’s DevSummit:

  • Insights for ArcGIS: This demonstration was the most impressive one and was much talked about during the conference: It is basically „GIS for Data Scientists“. Just have a look at the product page or watch the 8-minute video and you get a glimpse of how easy GIS can be: Just drag-n-drop a county outline on a map of points and you get an aggregated view. Or select a slice of a histogram and the corresponding features in the map as well as on a scatter plot are highlighted.
  • Vector Tiles: Vector tiles have been announced last year, but now you can generate them from ArcGIS Pro and publish them directly on your ArcGIS Portal. At least with vector tiles, the old saying „Raster is faster, but vector is corrector“ does not hold anymore: Publishing the entire world as vector tiles takes 8 hours on a desktop machine (with 16 GB RAM and SSD) and consumes about 13 GB of disk space. Compare this to weeks of processing and dozens of terabytes of disk space for traditional raster tiles. As Esri adopted the MapBox specification for vector tiles, the tiles should eventually be consumable by non-Esri clients (and also non-Esri tiles by ArcGIS clients). But these setups are apparently work in progress and may yield unexpected results at the moment.

One more thing

Where to go from here? I recommend to have a look at the presentation videos that are already published on Esri’s video portal, for example start with the ArcGIS platform overview.

But there is one more thing and a personal note: I would like to plug my lightning talk that I gave during the DevSummit. It was about a topic, that I am planning to expand on this blog in the future:

Bots!

Stay tuned…

Example projects: Military and meteo data, geoinformation aggregation and process consulting

In the „projects“ series we occasionally highlight some of our projects. Today, these projects encompass a geodata portal for the Swiss Army, a metadata portal for meteorologists, a cloud-based aggregation infrastructure for geoinformation and a process support for a biodiversity research team.

Geographic information portal for the Swiss Army

The Swiss Army was looking to standardise its use of geodata. EBP was commissioned to help the Army develop a geographic information portal.

The so-called „Mil User Platform“ is to be realised on the basis of the Swiss Federal Office of Topography’s (swisstopo) „Federal Administration User Platform“.

EBP supported the Military Geographic Information Service of the Armed Forces Joint Staff in the conception, initiation and installation phases of the Mil User Platform project. We manage the relevant business analyses and also model the requirements to be met by the GeoInfo Portal V in SPARX Enterprise Architect.

→ find out more

 

OSCAR: Metadata for meteorology – convenient global access

© MeteoSchweiz

To manage metadata, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is setting up what is known as the Observing Systems Capability And Review tool (OSCAR). This tool promises to facilitate the proper use of meteorological measurement data, provide a global overview of the available weather stations; and help facilitate the task the WMO member states have of administering these stations.

Working closely with the WMO, MeteoSwiss is developing and operating the OSCAR surface module. EBP helps MeteoSwiss realise the project using the HERMES-5 methodology.

→ find out more

 

KKGEO: Operation of the cloud-based aggregation infrastructure

The Office of the Conference of Cantonal Geoinformation Service Providers (KKGEO) has established an aggregation infrastructure for the Switzerland-wide publication of harmonised cantonal spatial data: geodienste.ch.

Working in the capacity of a project manager, EBP has designed and realised the scalable operation of the portal. The software components used for the system are based on open-source technologies and were developed by Sourcepole AG.

Working in close cooperation with the cloud-service provider CloudSigma, we set up the infrastructure for the application’s operation in a Switzerland-based computing centre. Thanks to the use of dynamic scaling, our solution can react flexibly to load and request volume fluctuations.

→ find out more

 

Process consulting and implementation of the ALL-EMA database

In the context of its ALL-EMA long-term study, the Swiss research institute Agroscope is gaining a better understanding of biodiversity in Switzerland by gathering field data on flora and habitat types. Before launching the first season of fieldwork, Agroscope wanted to improve its ALL-EMA data system.

EBP supported Agroscope in migrating its ALL-EMA project infrastructure to a comprehensive system with a central repository and efficient processes for data management and analysis.

The scope of the development included tools for importing field data, sampling design and exporting derived data in relevant exchange formats. The ALL-EMA architecture, data sources, workflows, responsibilities and IT security measures were recorded in a system manual and data documentations.

→ find out more

Projektbeispiele: Meteodaten, Aggregation kantonaler Geodaten und Prozessberatung bei Agroscope

In der Serie „Projekte“ möchten wir Ihnen in unregelmässigem Rhythmus einige Highlights aus der Arbeit von EBP Informatik vorstellen. Heute drehen sich die vorgestellten Projekte um die Erstellung eines Metadatenportals für weltweite Meteodaten, den Betrieb der cloudbasierten Aggregationsinfrastruktur für kantonale Geoinformationen und die Prozessunterstützung im ALL-EMA-Biodiversitätsprojekt von Agroscope.

OSCAR: Metadaten für die Meteorologie – weltweit einfach zugänglich

© MeteoSchweiz

Die MeteoSchweiz entwickelt in enger Zusammenarbeit mit der World Meteorological Organization (WMO) einen Teil des Portals OSCAR für die Verwaltung und Analyse von Metadaten zu meteorologischen Messungen.

EBP unterstützte MeteoSchweiz im Projektmanagement, bei der Spezifizierung der Anforderungen und bei der Evaluation der WTO-Ausschreibung für einen Entwicklungspartner.

→ mehr Informationen

 

KKGEO: Systembetrieb der Aggregationsinfrastruktur in der Cloud

Die Konferenz der kantonalen Geoinformationsstellen (KKGEO) hat ein Aggregationsportal zur schweizweiten Publikation harmonisierter räumlicher Daten der Kantone in Form von Download- und Darstellungsdiensten aufgebaut.

EBP hat in der Projektleitung den skalierbaren Betrieb dieses Portals, www.geodienste.ch, konzipiert und basierend auf Softwarekomponenten von Sourcepole realisiert. Durch die dynamische Skalierung kann unsere Lösung innert kürzester Zeit auf Lastschwankungen reagieren.

→ mehr Informationen

 

Prozessberatung und Implementation ALL-EMA-Datenbank

Die Forschungsanstalt Agroscope gewinnt in der Langzeitstudie ALL-EMA anhand von in Feldarbeit erhobenen Daten zu Lebensraumtypen und Pflanzenarten Erkenntnisse zur Biodiversität in der Schweiz.

EBP unterstützt Agroscope vor der Lancierung der ersten Feldarbeitssaison bei der Überführung der Infrastruktur des Projekts ALL-EMA in ein Gesamtsystem mit einer zentralen Ablage und effizienten Prozessen für die Datenbewirtschaftung und Datenanalyse.

→ mehr Informationen

Welche Berge und Täler kann man auf einer Zugfahrt durch die Zentralschweiz sehen?

Die Webtechnologie der letzten Jahre hat es ermöglicht, dass 3D Visualisierungen im Browser mittlerweile zum guten Ton gehören. Swisstopo/KOGIS haben beispielsweise vor ein paar Wochen eine Alpha Version einer 3D Ansicht ihrer Daten im Browser vorgestellt. Auch andere Projekte zur webbasierten 3D-Darstellung existieren, mit denen man vom Bürostuhl oder dem Sofa aus ohne Probleme stundenlang Geodaten erkunden kann, z.B. die Schweiz in der Eiszeit, 3D-Stadtmodelle, OpenStreetMap in 3D oder ein 3D-Veloroutenplaner. Ich persönlich finde 3D Darstellungen auch sehr spannend, jedoch hakelt es bei mir meist bei der 3D-Navigation. Solange Virtual Reality und Augmented Reality noch in den Kinderschuhen stecken, werde ich hier wohl noch etwas trainieren müssen.

Was mich aber noch mehr fasziniert als die reine räumliche Darstellung, sind Analysen und Berechnungen auf Basis von 3D-Daten. Eine klassische GIS-Berechnung ist die Sichtbarkeitsanalyse (Sichtfeld- oder Viewshed-Analyse), bei der für einen bestimmten Beobachtungspunkt die Gebiete berechnet werden, die von diesem Punkt aus zu sehen sind. Zum Glück bietet die Topographie der Schweiz viele Möglichkeiten für Sichtbarkeitsanalysen: Beispielsweise kann man sich die Frage stellen, welche Berge und Täler ich auf einer Panorama-Zugfahrt durch die Schweiz entdecken kann.

frame-0011

Dazu habe ich die aktuelle Beta-Version des JavaScript SDK von ArcGIS zur Hand genommen, die unter anderem auch Sichtbarkeitsanalysen unterstützt. Die eigentliche Berechnung findet hier serverseitig statt, in diesem Fall in der ArcGIS Online Cloud. Zum Experimentieren habe ich ein Entwicklerbeispiel des Beta-SDK etwas angepasst: Auf Mausklick werden für den entsprechenden Punkt im Gelände die sichtbaren Flächen mit max. 10 km Entfernung berechnet und orange dargestellt. Das Ergebnis kann man auf ausgewählten Desktop-Browsern bewundern (Safari funktioniert zurzeit nicht, mobile Browser auch nicht, ist ja noch „beta“). Dafür unterstützt meine kleine Webapp Permalinks, hier zum Beispiel die Sicht für das nächste GeoBeer in Wädenswil.

Wie oben schon erwähnt, bin ich aber nicht für interaktive 3D Ansichten geboren. Mit Animationen und Filmen kann ich mich dagegen schon mehr anfreunden. Daher habe ich mit meinem einfachen 3D-Webviewer eine Zugfahrt von Hergiswil Richtung Interlaken simuliert: Für die ca. 31 km lange Strecke durch Obwalden wurden alle 50 Meter das jeweilige Sichtfeld berechnet und die entstandenen Bilder zu einer Animation zusammengeführt:

Natürlich genügt das Video nicht professionellen Animations-Standards. Für hochwertigere Filme sollte man beispielsweise das neue ArcGIS Pro 1.2 benutzen, mit dem man auch Multi-View Animationen erstellen kann. Falls Sie Fragen zu serverbasierten Prozessierungen oder 3D-Animationen haben, schreiben Sie mir doch eine E-Mail an stephan.heuel@ebp.ch.

(Und für die technisch Interessierten: Das Video wurde mit node-webkit-screenshot und ffmpeg erstellt).

Projektbeispiele: Zürcher Fruchtfolgeflächen, Patrouille des Glaciers und Geodaten für die Armee

In der Serie „Projekte“ möchten wir Ihnen in unregelmässigem Rhythmus einige Highlights aus der Arbeit von EBP Informatik vorstellen. Heute drehen sich die vorgestellten Projekte um die Nachführung von Daten über Fruchtfolgeflächen, die bekannte Patrouille des Glaciers und um die Bereitstellung von Geoinformationen für die Schweizer Armee.

F3N: Nachführung der Fruchtfolgeflächen-Karte des Kantons Zürich

© Fachstelle Bodenschutz des Kantons Zürich
© Fachstelle Bodenschutz des Kantons Zürich

Die Fachstelle Bodenschutz des Kantons Zürich hält die Daten zum qualitativ besten ackerfähigen Kulturland, den sogenannten, Fruchtfolgeflächen, aktuell.

Wir haben für den Kanton Zürich ein Nachführungskonzept entwickelt und darauf aufbauend die Applikation F3N umgesetzt.

F3N verbessert die Effizienz des Nachführungsprozesses und erlaubt daneben auch stets detaillierte Aussagen zu Bestand und Veränderungen der Fruchtfolgeflächen im Kanton.

→ mehr Informationen

 

Anmelde- und Zeitmessungsverfahren für die Patrouille des Glaciers

© Patrouille des Glaciers
© Patrouille des Glaciers

Die Patrouille des Glaciers ist ein internationaler Skialpinismus-Wettkampf der Schweizer Armee, an welchem auch zivile Patrouillen teilnehmen dürfen. Sie gilt als härtester Teamwettkampf der Welt und zieht alle zwei Jahre über 5’000 Teilnehmende an.

Ernst Basler + Partner ist zusammen mit der Firma race result verantwortlich für die Bereitstellung des Anmelde- und Zeiterfassungssystems für den Wettkampf im Jahr 2016 (und optional auch im Jahr 2018).

→ mehr Informationen

 

Geoinformationsportal für die Schweizer Armee

Die Schweizer Armee will die Nutzung von Geoinformationen mit der Realisierung einer „Nutzungsplattform Mil“ vereinfachen.

Ernst Basler + Partner unterstützt die Armee unter anderem bei der Konzeption eines Geoinformationsportals, welches mit klassifizierten Daten und mit Daten von weltweiter Ausdehnung umgehen können muss.

→ mehr Informationen

Example projects: Project platforms, geodata for the DFA and automated data import

In the „projects“ series we would like to highlight from time to time some projects that our company conducted. Today, these projects encompass online collaboration platforms for projects, geodata infrastructures and services, and spatial ETL using FME.

Jinsha: Collaboration platform for an international project team

As part of an international team, our experts investigate the influence of climate change on water management in China. In order to support the project team, EBP built a collaboration platform based on Microsoft Sharepoint.

The Sharepoint platforms facilitates the communication between team members and project documentation, and simplifies project management. At any time, all team members can access common assets and documents can be edited collaboratively and simultaneously.

→ find out more

 

Project initiation of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Geodata Infrastructure

The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) requires a networked information landscape in order fulfill its tasks. Geographic information and data are an essential part of this information landscape for operational awareness. EBP assisted the FDFA in the initiation phase of the project „Geodata Infrastructure FDFE“ according to the federal standard for project management, Hermes 5.

We derived the requirements for such a system using interviews and stakeholder workshops. In a Hermes study we documented the situation analysis, aims, requirements and approaches, suggested and described various solutions and formulated a recommendation.

→ find out more

 

Cadastral surveying: Data import using FME

The geodata of the cadastral survey in the Canton of Schwyz is managed by the municipalities. The canton publishes these data centrally. In order to facilitate the canton’s task, we assisted Schwy in developping an automated import of Interlis data into the cantonal geodata infrastructure (Oracle and PostGIS) using FME as the state-of-the-art ETL tool.

Using our tool, the Canton of Schwyz can import survey data at the press of a button. The data is then served to the authorities and the public, e.g. in the cantonal WebGIS, from the central databases.

→ find out more

Projektbeispiele: Projektplattform in China, Geodaten im EDA und AV-Interlis in Schwyz

In der Serie „Projekte“ möchten wir Ihnen in unregelmässigem Rhythmus einige Highlights aus der Arbeit von EBP Informatik vorstellen. Heute drehen sich die vorgestellten Projekte um die Themen kollaborative Projektplattformen, Geodateninfrastruktur und Spatial ETL mit FME.

Jinsha: Projektplattform für ein internationales Team

Unsere Expertinnen und Experten untersuchen in einem internationalen Projektteam in China den Einfluss des Klimawandels auf das Wasser-Management. EBP hat zur Unterstützung des Vorhabens eine kollaborative Projektplattform auf Basis von Microsoft Sharepoint aufgebaut.

Die Sharepoint-Plattform dient dem Austausch, der Projektdokumentation und der Vereinfachung des Projektmanagements. Alle Beteiligten sind stets auf demselben Informationsstand und Dokumente können von mehreren Personen gleichzeitig bearbeitet werden.

→ mehr Informationen

 

Initialisierung der Geodateninfrastruktur des Eidgenössischen Departements für auswärtige Angelegenheiten

Das Eidgenössische Departement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten (EDA) benötigt für die Erfüllung seiner Aufgaben eine vernetzte Informationslandschaft. Geoinformationen sind ein essentieller Teil davon. EBP begleitete das EDA bei der Initialisierung des Projekts „Geodateninfrastruktur EDA“ gemäss Hermes 5-Methodik.

Im Rahmen von Interviews und Workshops ermittelten wir die Bedürfnisse des EDA an die geplante GDI. In einer Studie nach Hermes 5 haben wir Situationsanalyse, Ziele, Anforderungen und Lösungen dokumentiert, technologieneutral Varianten vorgeschlagen und schliesslich eine Empfehlung abgegeben.

→ mehr Informationen

 

Amtliche Vermessung: Datenimport mit FME

Die Geodaten der amtlichen Vermessung (AV) werden im Kanton Schwyz gemeindeweise bewirtschaftet. Der Kanton macht diese AV-Daten dann zentral verfügbar. Um dem Kanton Schwyz diese Aufgabe zu erleichtern, hat EBP den Import von Interlis-Daten der AV in die kantonale Geodateninfrastruktur mit dem state-of-the-art ETL-Werkzeug FME umgesetzt.

Die im Interlis-Format vorliegenden AV-Daten können so per Knopfdruck in die kantonalen Geodatenbanken (ORACLE und PostGIS) importiert werden. Mit diesen Datenbanken unterstützt der Kanton Schwyz den internen und öffentlichen Gebrauch der Vermessungsdaten und die Anzeige der Daten im kantonalen WebGIS.

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GIS 5.0 – Smart and connected

Recently I came across an interesting article by Dave Peters. He outlines the evolution of GIS in four development phases:

  1. In the early 80ies GIS were based primarily on scripts. Using scripts, GI specialists cleaned, edited and visualized spatial data. Some readers might recall the ARC/INFO era and its scripting language Arc Macro Language – AML.
  2. About 20 years later, at the end of the 90ies, the first GUI-centric object-oriented GIS appeared on the stage (for example, ArcGIS Desktop in 1998). This second step with the more efficient programming technique was enabled by more performant hardware.
  3. New technologies to provide data and services emerged with the rapid advent and development of the Web. A building stone of these service-oriented architectures (SOAs) was, for example, the Web Map Services (WMS) specification that was adopted in 2000 (Version 1.0).
  4. Finally, virtualization of hardware and centralization of computing centers initiated the fourth phase leading to cloud-based GIS portals. Storage space and computing power have become scalable commodities. ArcGIS Online, launched in 2012, is a prominent example of this fourth phase.

Now the question is: what comes next?

The steps in GIS software evolution. What's next?
The steps in GIS software evolution. What’s next?

Smart and connected systems

From the past we can learn: New technological abilities lead to new applications. They substiantially influence the further evolution of GIS. Among the contenders for the most relevant (to GIS) technologies and developments I see:

  • indoor navigation,
  • the Internet of Things (IoT) and
  • real-time sytems

Future GIS applications will be more and more smart and networked. They will require a technical infrastructure which is composed of several layers: embedded components, network communications, a cloud-based platform or system, tools for providing authentification and authorization, and  gateways to include external data sources as well as in-house data (see the figure below, adapted from Porter and Heppelmann).

The architecture of future smart, networked GIS applications
The architecture of future smart, connected GIS applications (adapted from Porter and Heppelmann)

The IT Division of Ernst Basler + Partner (EBP Informatics) has already amassed solid experience with the components in such a system (see our reference projects). Also in our blog posts we engage with these future developments, most recently with regards to the real-time quality assessment of data streams.

Do you have any questions or comments on these topics? We would like to hear from you!