The Power of the Portal
The geo-enabling of enterprise portals is one of the most exciting results of the explosion of online mapping. Organizations that already have portals in place and those just getting into the game are benefiting from some cool new technologies.
|On the left is a screenshot from a MOSS 2007 portal we made for the Federal Government to track developments in the reporting and confirmation of H5N1 Bird Flu cases worldwide.
Prior to this, PDF reports were created where numbered points on a map correspond to a numbered set of descriptions below it. Adding and editing Bird Flu events meant creating and disseminating a new report. The time lag between events and updates was problematic, due to the timely nature of tracking this specific risk.
In this application, portal users leverage SharePoint Lists in which Bird Flu events are added as soon as they identified. They are then promoted to varying levels of validity and severity.
Outbreak areas are categorized by carrier type and confirmation status. They are then sent to the map as actionable pins where geographic patterns and trends become visible.
Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 provides standard WebParts like Lists and Libraries. When these lists and libraries are populated with images, documents, or incident descriptions, Visual Fusion for SharePoint geocodes them, wraps them up as a GeoRSS, and sends them to the map. An additional, huge benefit of the portal is permissions-based access to data and editing rights, ensuring security and smart data dissemination.
A Composite View
Instead of just Bird Flu occurrences, the map can tell a more complete story by feathering in additional, related map layers. Context adds meaning. When these items are viewed in the context of location and time, all sorts of geographic patterns can emerge. For example, are Bird Flu cases correlating as strongly with bird migration routes as expected? Can, then, bird migration routes be considered more strongly or less strongly when anticipating potential hot spots? Are cases occurring in regions that have a dense population of captive poultry? Perhaps most importantly, how many people live around the impact zone?
"Maps answer questions that you never thought to ask." I heard that once in an NPR interview; what a great soundbite. But more often the reality is, maps answer questions that ought not to be answered without a map.
By pulling in publicly available WMS layers and media services, analysts and responders are able to build an immediate, custom view and report of current and historical outbreaks. The enhanced management and dissemination method of the Portal allows a faster, fresher view of the situation.