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Monday, 25 August 2014

IMIA Asia Pacific Conference: Part 2c

Mobile & Web Solutions with Open Source

Open Source Integration in Spatial Solutions
The next presenter hailed from India and he presented solutions basing on open source. In this conference, there is a strong emphasis on free datasets and open source solutions to build mapping products. His company has developed an interactive globe (a physical globe like viewed on a mobile device). It is home to over 50 000 Points of Interests, multilingual and meshed with multiple datastets. Secondly, he also developed interactive world atlas which is built on raster and vector maps. The user can draw, write, add points and print your own maps. Some of his developed applications are built on primarily on open source data and open source solutions (e.g. leaflet.js). The core of his presentation focused on 3 factors to be considered on open source material and utilization for projects:
  1. Cost: Though open source is deemed free, it is actually far from the truth. This is because of licence issue, customisation cost and server fees. However, the cost would be marginal in comparison to proprietary solutions 
  2. Customization : The user has a product end in his or her mind but open source may not able to fulfill
  3. Support : Some open source solutions do offer paid support. However, majority of open source solutions support come through community based forums.

ESRI Advances further...

ArcGIS real-time capabilities for disaster management
ESRI presenters from Australia are always on the go to show how ESRI is always ahead of the GIS curve. No doubt this has been demonstrated this year. The presenter talked about Real-Time GIS and how ArcGIS is incorporating and adapting to this type of data. Real time GIS data is continuous stream of events flowing from various sensors. Smart technologies are widespread and each of them are sensors (geo-enabled). This includes tweets, sms and other form alerts that occur during disaster time. ArcGIS Geo Event working hand-in-hand with ArcGIS Server able to capture, analyse and visualize spatial distribution of real-Time GIS data. From here, the data is transmitted through applications or through connectors (e.g.alerts on fire). ArcGIS Online was used in demonstration as the visualization tool of real-time GIS Data

Queensland furthers Open Spatial Data Revolution

Queensland Globe: Gateway to Free Spatial Data
In my posting last year on the conference, Queensland government was in its early stages of implementation of open data policy. This included the spatial data from state government and it is transmitted to the public via Queensland Globe. Quick brief on Queensland Globe:
  • Google Earth is the platform where the data is hosted publicly
  • It's Free
  • Training is not essential to use it. However, videos are in the website to show the users on how to move around Queensland Globe. A novice user can access the data through Google Earth platform
  • Up to 357 layers (as of August 2014) are freely available
The push needed for the implementation of Queensland Globe (April 2013) came from:
  • Flood mapping (As Queensland was wracked with floods recently and the disaster relief appeal
  • Huge demand for timely, authoritative mapping
  • Overwhelming positive response from government, business and citizens on data access
The final plan is all state government data (spatial data ) to be free for public downloads. This meant a new Globe Framework needs to be implemented for the bigger data release. There are couple types of globes for spatial data. Queensland Globe offers foundation and base maps and Category Globes have 17 themed maps. Different globes (e.g. Coal Seam Gas, land valuation) are released in stages. In April 2014, statistical data (census blocks) from Australian Bureau of Statistics were integrated into the globes. To ensure continuity, New South Wales Globe (Free data site for neighbouring state) is integrated in the Queensland multiple globe framework.

In future, historical imagery, geology, Building Information Models (BIM) and paid searches would be added in next globes. Queensland government is trying to entrench the open data policy into law. This will in turn obligates state government agencies to release data freely. The push to transform this policy into a law is to establish business confidence and encourage investment and innovation in the state.

Another initiative as part of open data policy of the state is QTopo. It is open topographic data site and users can explore Queensland topography in virtual manner. It is also web based browser application and 100% of Queensland territory is covered with topographic maps (with scale up to 1:18,084). Users can print their own topographic maps using recommended map sheets or customized areas (and zoom levels)

Transforming Spatial Business

Business Transformation is relatable to Explorer's journey
The final presentation of the day (Monday) had an interesting approach. He was from HEMA Maps, a leader in 4WD expedition publishing, related to his business transformation with his regular travels in outback Australia. Part of his business transformation, he recaptured the purpose of his business (HEMA) - helping navigators to explore. Any expeditions to Outback Australia may have some issues on the way and hence, the explorer needs to revisit his plans and reset the trip. Likewise the presenter iterated that spatial businesses be prepared to revisit their business plan. HEMA has started off and still is a family business. When initially it started, HEMA's target market was in the offline environment. There was no internet a fair while ago. However, with the digital age dominating modern times, HEMA needs to adjust to environment and be ahead of the curve. This is to ensure steady revenue flow. 

Another crucial part of the business is how to engage the customers of HEMA. This would include social media where HEMA social media admin interacts with customers experience in Outback Australia. However, any business must not be viewed as being pushy towards customers as this may chase existing customers. HEMA emphasizes the importance to engage with their own team. This includes cartographers, drivers etc. The positive environment is needed so that team remains intact and deliver better.

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