SVG Web Mapping Used to Track Green Energy Sources

By Ian Clemens

SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) web mapping applications are getting a lot of attention lately and for good reason. SVG's vector graphics provide many benefits over raster-based web mapping solutions. SmartMapsTM is Universal Map's SVG web mapping solution. As a leading producer of map titles for the USA, Universal Map is well positioned to offer turnkey solutions to customers looking for advanced web mapping solutions. An excellent example of the benefits of SVG can be found in GreenPowerX - a SmartMaps web mapping implementation for tracking Green Energy sources in the state of Michigan.

In 2000, the Michigan Independent Power Producers Association (MIPPA) instituted a Michigan-based Green Power Co-op to establish a viable renewable energy-generated electricity market. Crucial to the success of the co-op is the innovative concept of tagging renewable energy power sources as Green. Since electrons cannot be color-coded "green" or traced individually back to the power source, tagging blocks of green power provides a way of designating and then monitoring green power throughout its life cycle.These green power tags are then tracked through what may be numerous sales, all the way to the ultimate consumer.

Need Assessment
As part of its mandate to make information available to various stakeholders, MIPPA identified a need for a web site that allowed visitors to track the green power tag transactions, and allowed MIPPA staff to enter, via a secure interface, power provider information as it became available.The website also needed to provide potential customers with a geographically-enabled web interface that allowed them to see updated information on various renewable power facilities across the state.Previously, MIPPA had relied on numerous spreadsheets for tracking power information and costly mailers to keep stakeholders informed.

SmartMaps Selected for Web Mapping Needs
MIPPA selected the SmartMaps web mapping solution to power the new website and became the world's first renewable energy exchange system. The website features an interactive map application that allows green power providers, consumers, and other stakeholders to view information on participating green power providers throughout the state of Michigan, and then initiate power transactions through the buying and selling of green power tags. Accessible information includes details on fuel type, generation methods, contact information, available power, and environmental benefits. The ability for SmartMaps to deliver a geography-based interface to Green Power information provides the necessary element of relevance to users. The site shows a provider's proximity to the consumer's home or business, thus bringing home the benefits of green power.

The map is also tied to a web-based database that holds all of the information.As MIPPA staff enters new data, through a dynamic link between the map and database, that data is instantly reflected in the map.In this way, users are always assured that they have the most up-to-date information. Don Johns, Director of Michigan Independent Power Producers Association, says "SmartMaps has given us the mapping and information displays we needed to promote green power use.Updates are very easy using our normal database and staff entries."
How SmartMaps works
Unlike most web mapping applications that deliver raster images, or snapshots of geography, to the browser, SmartMaps delivers vector-based geography that can store attribute information, be dynamically updated, and be tied directly to map functionality such as highlighting and reporting features. This greatly reduces both the need to request information from the server and delays associated with re-rendering the raster image. SmartMaps can be incorporated into virtually any IT infrastructure, and allows data to be communicated to users equipped with a standard web browser and a network connection. A dynamic link is established with existing client databases, and normal updates and changes in the database are automatically reflected in the SmartMaps application.

SmartMaps functionality provides fast zoom and pan navigation, as well as data-on-demand windows that provide the user with additional information on any given power facility. One of the goals of implementing SmartMaps for GreenPowerX was to reduce the administrative burden of mailing details of each energy transfer to various stakeholders.The SmartMaps solution provides 24/7 access to information submitted using online forms. The resulting efficiencies have dramatically sped up the time from application to sale while ensuring that information is always up to date.

Published Thursday, July 10th, 2003

Written by Ian Clemens

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