Five Questions About IDV’s SpatialWiki Beta

By Directions Staff

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 copy.

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)?

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"?

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.

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 interface?

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.

Published Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Written by Directions Staff

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