EA: Hi there Steve! We know you’ve been working on a very interesting project with CEDA lately. Can you tell us about it?
ST: Yes, we have been doing something particularly interesting lately. Esri Australia has been working with CEDA (the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia) to ‘map the issues’ of Western Australia. The map will feature at CEDA’s upcoming ‘Inventing the Future – Shaping WA 2010 – 2050’ event. February’s topic for the event is Population Dispersal and Sustainability – so the map will show the current and future projects and assets of the state, as well as other relevant information. The map presents a common picture for public awareness and discussion around development and policy issues, and puts these issues in a geographic context. This will help people to better understand the relationships between different issues, and help plan for the future.
EA: Where does the information shown on the map come from?
ST: We gathered water, infrastructre, energy and population data from various government and corporate agencies. MapData Sciences (MDS) supplied the base map data and address search geocoder. MDS are also hosting the application and have provided professional services to deploy the application.
EA: So how does the map actually work? What sort of information can users access?
ST: Users can choose to display a number of themes or issues – currently infrastructure, energy, water and population. There are also a number base maps to choose from – MDS basemap, Esri Imagery and Landgate SLIP WMS layers. Users can control the display through either the menu driven buttons or the layer control.
EA: How long did it take to create to build the application?
ST: The project took around a month to create… but I guess the total effort achieved by two people was about six weeks – three weeks for the application and three weeks for acquiring and formatting the data.
EA: What sort of services were involved?
ST: We provided professional and business services to create the application. The professional services were used to set up and customise the map to suit the needs of CEDA. The business services were used to negotiate with data vendors to enlighten them of the benefits of sharing data for a public cause.
EA: Why was this important?
ST: These services have been important to achieve the outcomes of the project due to the implications of using data in a public forum. The ArcGIS Viewer For Flex version 2.2 application, which is behind the map, lends itself to configuration very well and non-developers can get a site up and running in days with their own data, logos and corporate colours. In the case of CEDA, extra functionality was required because we needed a custom search, and we needed to identify basemap and layer control widgets, amongst many other things.
EA: How has the project innovatively used location intelligence?
ST: The project has offered users a common view of planning outcomes by combining data from multiple data sources using different technologies. The project has demonstrated the versatility of what can be achieved with location intelligence and is a great example of getting a website up and running very quickly.
EA: What are some of the tangible outcomes for CEDA? What can they do now that they couldn’t do before?
ST: CEDA now has a platform that can be used in the decision-making process to add value and provide a spatial context to complex issues. They are now location intelligent. In terms of the technology used for the map, the benefits of the Flex Viewer application are: it’s a lightweight web application; it’s simple to deploy on any web application server; you can have multiples instances deployed that are specific to business purposes; the application can easily be extended to support additional business specific tools or widgets; and a strong user community exists for the flex viewer and business ideas and sample code can be downloaded
EA: Why have you personally enjoyed working on this project?
ST: I think this project is particularly interesting because it’s an example of the spatial community (including government organisations and private agencies) offering data and a mapping service for the benefit of the community. I have enjoyed discovering how well designed the framework is for the ArcGIS Viewer For Flex. Custom functionality can be added in the form of new widgets, config files can have new parameters added, the event bus can be used to send messages around the application. I have also been pleased to see the large number of custom tools offered in the user forums available for all to use free of charge.