IDV Solutions announced
an open beta of its SpatialWiki
recently. SpatialWiki "is an Enterprise 2.0 offering for visual
collaboration, deployable within SharePoint or with cloud-based
storage. The wiki offers users a number of great benefits including the
ability to create custom geospatial shapes on a map, search and view
shared geography, and export files." We posed some questions to Chief
Technology Officer Ian Clemens.
Directions Magazine (DM): We understand that with the open beta of
SpatialWiki, individuals can draw and tag new features in "drawings" on
top of Virtual Earth. Others can later copy them as the basis of new
drawings or edit them. Can you explain how this might be used in an
enterprise? Perhaps provide a use case?
Ian Clemens (IC): SpatialWiki provides a quick, collaborative,
browser-based tool for creating geospatial information without the
complexity of a full GIS. SpatialWiki also provides storage flexibility
in that it is integrated with SharePoint portal
or with Microsoft Cloud Services, specifically SQL Server Data
Services. Enterprise customers are demanding solutions that allow them
to utilize geospatial in their enterprise apps and environments, for
example, SharePoint portal, Cloud-based storage. The alternative has
been to take GIS and attempt to shoehorn it into enterprise IT - which
often doesn't work, and leaves the enterprise users dissatisfied.
One compelling use case for SpatialWiki is in the area of security
operations, whether for a corporate building, public event or a college
campus. For example, a couple of years back our company, IDV Solutions,
supported security operations for the Torino Winter Olympics. The need
was for security personnel to have a map-based ad hoc tool to draw and
comment on the map itself, and then quickly share out that information
to the global security team. SpatialWiki handles this use case
brilliantly. Users can draw in media perimeters and delineate
trouble spots, for example, and then share those out to a larger group,
tagged with appropriate metadata. SpatialWiki also allows users to
restore previous versions of map drawings and revert back to an earlier
DM: Those new to Cloud Computing may not be aware of Microsoft's
SQL Server Data Services, one solution for the storage of
SpatialWiki geodata. Can you explain how that type of storage is
different from the more familiar Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service)?
IC: We have worked with both of these Cloud-based storage
offerings, and both work well. What distinguishes SQL Server Data
Services is that it's more than a bit bucket for storage; it also has
database elements such as query and modify, and integrates with the
on-premise SQL Server, which is familiar to enterprise customers.
DM: We understand the drawings can be output as KML and "spatially
enabled SQL Server 2008 scripts." What are "spatially enabled SQL
Server 2008 scripts"?
IC: SpatialWiki allows users to export to KML or as a script that
can be imported directly in SQL Server 2008 as geospatial information.
Export options give users the flexibility to bring their
SpatialWiki-generated information into other applications.
DM: How will security be implemented? Enterprise customers don't
want their drawings to be accessible by just anyone.
IC: Security of information is critical. Different from the
current beta, which is open to the public, the SpatialWiki application
itself is hosted by the customer behind a firewall. For storage,
SpatialWiki customers currently have two options, SharePoint or SQL
Server Data Services (SSDS). In the case of SharePoint storage, the
data never leave the enterprise and stay behind the enterprise firewall
with all the security of SharePoint. For customers wanting more
flexibility in storage, and perhaps the ability to securely share
geospatial data to key partners and stakeholders in an extranet
fashion, SSDS may be more appropriate. SSDS also provides
enterprise-level security for data.
DM: What are the benefits of developing on Silverlight beyond the slick
IC: Best of breed user experiences (UX) often make the difference
between an application that gets used or doesn't. Silverlight is a
great technology for allowing rich, dynamic UX that users enjoy working
with and find easy to understand.
From a technical, geospatial standpoint, Silverlight allows for an
order of magnitude greater number of vector nodes than AJAX; for
example, where an AJAX map slows down significantly when you render
100-200 points concurrently, Silverlight allows for thousands of points.