Thursday, August 16, 2012

Data viz tool from DataAppeal

Continuing the theme of data presentation, I would like to mention another application that caught my attention and which may be of interest to readers of this blog - especially as it does not require any training in GIS. It is called DataAppeal and is a web-based visualization application that allows users to transform location- specific data, stored in tabular format, into 3D animated maps.

The company behind the application set a very ambitious goal - "to bring together concepts of art, design and spatial analytics to increase interest in sharing information and knowledge between users, for quicker and better decision making".

Users can upload numeric data with location reference and render it into a 3D map using Google Earth application. The users can choose from a number of design templates or customise display options to achieve the desired "look" that will enhance the message they want to convey. Basic features are available under free subscription option but heavy users can upgrade to a more advanced version of the product, if required. The URL link of the data-map can be posted and shared through various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter or just email.

All in all, DataAppeal is simple to use and offers no-cost introduction to visualisation of corporate data on 3D maps.

Visualising Victoria's Groundwater

A few weeks ago Victorians added a new information source to the ever growing list of online interactive GIS applications: Visualising Victoria's Groundwater. The project is an initiative aimed at federating groundwater data from disparate sources to assist in groundwater research and water management.

The application contains extensive information on approximately 300,000 bores in across Victoria. The map also includes a number of useful layers to put the information in context. Those layers include elevation, depth to watertable and surface elevation.

It is built with OpenLayers framework and utilises Web Map Service (WMS) to facilitate publication of custom data. Click on the map brings up the information about a particular dataset, for that specific location (but is not enabled on all available layers; by the way, this is a great feature of WMS which is often overlooked by developers in favour of more complex solutions).

An interesting aspect of the application is that drawing tools are utilised as a feedback generation mechanism. That is, users can mark specific location and submit comments (“undo” option to remove drawn objects from the map would be a desirable functionality extension). There is also a support for exporting of numeric data (limited to a few hundred items at a time). As all modern GIS online applications it also supports layer reordering but I could not get this function to work properly. Overall, Visualising Victoria's Groundwater is quite nice and simple to use information presentation application.

The project has been funded by the State Government of Victoria - Broadband Enabled Innovation Program

First spotted on : Google Maps Mania