Case Study | Nitobi / VanGuide
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  • 1. Microsoft Customer Solution Customer Solution Case Study Nitobi harnesses the power of open government data with VanGuideOverview “VanGuide is just the first step to socializing open data,Country or Region: CanadaIndustry: Application Development we hope to start a revolution and that spreads across the country.”Customer ProfileNitobi Inc. is a developer of mobile and Jesse MacFadyen, senior software engineer, Nitobi Incrich Internet applications for theenterprise. Nitobi Inc. is a developer of mobile and rich Internet applicationsBusiness SituationNitobi wanted to create an application for the enterprise. The developer wanted to create anusing open government data in a way application using open government data in a way that makesthat makes data more compelling andpersonable for citizens. data more compelling and personable for citizens. Nitobi used Microsoft Open Government Data Initiative together withSolutionNitobi used Microsoft Open Government Vancouver’s open data and the Microsoft Azure platform – toData Initiative together with Vancouver’s enable citizens to access government data easily and quickly viaopen data and Microsoft Azure platformto create VanGuide. Citizens are now the VanGuide mobile and web-based app.able to access government data easilyand quickly.Benefits Improved Collaboration Streamlined Development Process Power of Open Data
  • 2. Situation This would allow open government data toNitobi Inc. is a developer of mobile and rich be used in a unique, personal way.”Internet Applications for the enterprise. TheVancouver-based company is well-knownin the developer sphere and carries a stellar Solutionreputation when it comes to building Nitobi worked with Microsoft Canada tosophisticated mobile and Web applications. build VanGuide, an application based onNitobi Inc. has developed mobile and Web- the city’s open data that local citizens andbased applications for top-tier clients such tourists can use while visiting Vancouver.as Bell Canada, H&R Block Canada Inc. and VanGuide overlays the data from the City’sAT&T for over a decade. Today the Open Data catalogue with Bing™ maps ofcompany, which is dedicated to creating Vancouver and enables citizens to visuallyvaluable end-user experiences, is changing access information about variousthe way rich Internet applications are built. landmarks and services, including localNitobi has used software and cloud services parks, schools, libraries and communityoperating systems such as Microsoft® centres. Furthermore users can rate, tagSilverlight and Windows Azure™, but also and comment on these landmarks, or evenuses Microsoft Open Government Data add their own, thus adding unique value toInitiative (OGDI) to help enable rapid the city’s open data catalogue and enableapplication development for publicly knowledge and information sharing a socialavailable government data. level.Creating rich and more visually appealing The City of Vancouver is one of the firstapplications is important to Nitobi, notes municipalities in Canada to make its dataJesse MacFadyen, senior software engineer, available to developers. Nitobi realized theNitobi Inc. To uphold its reputation as a opportunity to further extend this data byleader in cutting edge, highly usable leveraging a cloud-based Open Sourceapplications, Nitobi wanted to build an framework for open data cataloguesapplication that encouraged citizens to recently released by Microsoft: Openpersonalize their open data catalogue Government Data Initiative (OGDI).experience. “Microsoft’s OGDI’s main purpose is simple:In early 2010, Nitobi began its relationship to enable government data to be easilywith Microsoft Canada and Vancouver open accessible and publicly available for citizensgovernment experts, which helped them to as well as developers,” says Nik Garkusha,create a mobile social mapping application Open Source Strategy Manager, Microsoftto allow the data from the City of Canada. “The OGDI implementation usingVancouver’s Open Data catalogue to be Vancouver data enabled rapidmore accessible. development of a number of web and mobile applications, including VanGuide.“We want to socialize map data in the hope This helps cities in Canada and across thethat this will start a citizen-type revolution,” world to build vibrant applicationsays MacFadyen. “We were looking to ecosystems around their Open Datadevelop an app that would ensure that the catalogues.public could add information about theirpersonal experiences at specific locations. ODGI leverages open standards and open applications programming interfaces to
  • 3. allow developers and governments to “Working with several team members cancreate new innovative online applications create extra steps, but this technologyusing data that is open to the public, and works off of the same tool. Now, when weVanGuide fulfills this goal by bringing are working on the same project, we arecitizens government data in a unique and able to see each other’s changes. Incompelling way. addition, we can now test the application in 10 minutes where it would have needed to“VanGuide is unique in that both visitors be completed once or twice a week,” saysand local citizens can use the application to MacFadyen.locate the particular restaurant they arelooking for or mark their favorite park in Power of open datathe city, and with Microsoft OGDI, users can Operating within the Windows Azure andnow get information quicker because it’s OGDI platforms helps Nitobi get itshosted in the cloud,” says MacFadyen. applications to market faster, which will ultimately help it grow its revenue base. The openness of OGDI helps Nitobi boostBenefits productivity between its open source andNitobi is leveraging the City if Vancouver’s Microsoft-based platforms – helpingopen data and Microsoft OGDI to help developers to speed development time.make data more personable andcompelling for citizens. “Microsoft hosted a subset of Vancouver open data, and being in the cloud helpedStreamlined development process us get data more quickly because it wasOperating on one platform gives hosted on ODGI and Windows Azure,” saysdevelopers more uniformity, as they are in MacFadyen.a better position to leverage data to buildricher open data applications. The WindowsAzure platform, Silverlight, .NET, BINGMaps, Visual Studio 2010 and Microsoftopen source-based technologies helpedNitobi quickly develop VanGuide to meettheir goals, which has ultimately improvedcollaboration and increased productivity.“Since some data is stored in differentformats it can be difficult to haveeverything you need in one place, butOGDI imports all of their data in one placeand renders uniformity,” says MacFadyen.Improved collaborationWith the help of Visual Studio andWindows Azure, the creation of theapplication was seamless because all of theMicrosoft products used are so tightlyintegrated.
  • 4. For More InformationFor more information about Microsoftproducts and services, call the MicrosoftSales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the MicrosoftCanada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States andCanada who are deaf or hard-of-hearingcan reach Microsoft text telephone(TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234.Outside the 50 United States andCanada, please contact your localMicrosoft subsidiary. To accessinformation using the World Wide Web,go to:www.microsoft.comFor more information about Nitobi Inc.products and services, visit the websiteat: http://www.nitobi.com/ Software and Services OGDI Bing™ mapsThis case study is for informational purposes only.MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS ORIMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.Document published October 2010