Integrating Building Information in FetchGIS
Displaying additional information about a parcel, such as building details, in FetchGIS has been a common discussion thread with clients. Often the limitation comes from a lack of data consistency or differences in software between local units, where the data is created and maintained, and the county. These differences make aggregating data at the county more challenging.
We have added photographs of buildings to parcels in FetchGIS services, but we have not added any additional building details that are often maintained by assessors in local units within a county. This changed recently when the Saginaw Area FetchGIS began to provide Building Information for parcels. Now when a user selects a parcel in the Saginaw Area FetchGIS, a photograph of the building is displayed in the Information Window, and when a user opens the detailed parcel information pane, it provides a new section containing Building Information, which includes information like the year built, style, rooms, number of stories, sketch of the building and more. The photograph of the building and the Building Information are also included when a user creates a Parcel Report.
The addition of the photograph and Building Information starts with the local units of government where the data is created and maintained. The local units of government then provide the Building Information to the Saginaw Area GIS Authority (SAGA) where it is integrated with their BS&A software. From SAGA, the Building Information is included in the export to FetchGIS where it is made available to users.
One of the keys to making this all work is that the local units of government and Saginaw County both use BS&A software. This provides a consistent software platform, which makes it easier to integrate these new data at the county level. It is also important to note that the exports from the local units of government and the integration routines at the county level are managed by SAGA.
On our end, we ingest the Building Information and extend FetchGIS to accommodate this new information. Extending FetchGIS includes turning coded values for building characteristics in the export, into logical text descriptions that can be understood by visitors to the SAGA FetchGIS.
The result is that users can now access both land and building information when exploring parcels in the SAGA FetchGIS. This concept of expanding what information is available about a parcel is likely to gain traction, extending the traditional parcel report to include items such as, septic and well information, drain assessments, building permits and more.
If you are interested in learning more about adding Building Information to FetchGIS get in touch. You can also visit the Saginaw County Area FetchGIS to see how the new information is presented.
Saginaw Area FetchGIS
Enhancing Offline Workflows
Researching advances in technology that may benefit FetchGIS services is something the dev team does on a continual basis. Many of these technologies need time to mature and offer better integration paths, but there are others that offer promise in the near future. One particular area the dev team has invested time into is improving the ‘offline mode’ for clients using FetchGIS services (FetchEH and FetchRC applications) in their field workflows. While these FetchGIS services currently support working in an ‘offline’ environment, including mapping features and data entry, the workflow requires users to have the application open before working in an offline area.
The process works well, but let’s say you forget to open the FetchEH or FetchRC application before you visit an area with limited or no data connection, this creates a problem because the application needs that data connection to open and initialize. Currently, the only solution to this problem is to travel back to an area where a data connection is available to open the application, and then return to the worksite. A better solution to this problem is offered in new advances to browser technologies that will enable web applications to behave more like native applications, without the overhead of maintaining a native application.
One of these behaviors includes the ability to ‘cold start’ a web application when there is no data connection available. From a field staff perspective, this means they would be able to open FetchEH and FetchRC where a data connection is not available. The ‘cold start’ behavior works by storing more application files locally, including storing areas on the map that have been visited, and making them available for use in an ‘offline’ environment. The result would be an improved user experience in the ‘offline’ environment, removing the need to have the application open prior to working in an offline area.
The dev team is in the early development and testing phase at this time, but feel free to contact us to learn more.
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