Smallworld and Google: the best of both worlds
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Smallworld and Google: the best of both worlds

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My presentation at the Smallworld User Conference in Baltimore, talking about the benefits of combining the strengths of Smallworld and Google Maps (the work we are doing with Ubisense myWorld).

My presentation at the Smallworld User Conference in Baltimore, talking about the benefits of combining the strengths of Smallworld and Google Maps (the work we are doing with Ubisense myWorld).

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  • This is a typical utility basemap in Smallworld – fairly sparse. But you can see with the raster tiled approach that the data looks exactly like it does in Smallworld
  • Adding in a Google Street Map gives a lot more context. Maintaining base maps is not a core activity for utilities, and is very expensive. It really makes sense to use basemaps maintained by somebody else. There are ways that you can add updates where necessary, for example adding a new subdivision which isn’t on the basemap yet.
  • And Google satellite imagery is good for many applications. I hear a lot of people say that Google imagery is out of date but I think they are updating it more and more frequently.
  • What if your data doesn’t match the Google landbase? Many utilities have an old and inaccurate landbase and want to transform or conflate their network data to a new and more accurate landbase, for multiple reasons – sharing data with other entities, using GPS, and working with external data like Google Maps, or imagery from other sources. This is an example of some data from PNG, who went through such a conflation exercise. You can see here how much better their pipes align with a Google map background after the conflation progress. That’s not the main focus of my talk today, but
  • Google street view can give you valuable extra information about facilities. Often you can see details on pole configuration and so on that may not be stored in the database. We’ve integrated tightly with this, so that when you click on a facility you automatically get the right street view displayed. In cases where the data doesn’t line up exactly it’s easy to adjust the view and save that for next time.
  • A very powerful feature is that you can display icons in the street view itself and mouse over or click them for more information.
  • In this example we can see several poles further away as we look along the street.
  • You need a wireless connection in general … but this massively reduces admin. No need to sync, no need to install software on any devices, no need to upgrade, no need to do anything when you change your data model. If you have foreign crews, they just need any device with a web browser and some login information.
  • Another thing we can make far more use of in mobile applications is georeferenced photos. These pictures were taken with my iPhone, the location was automatically recorded by the built in GPS, and the pictures were uploaded wirelessly by email and appeared on the map automatically like this – I have not adjusted anything manually.
  • These type of photos can be displayed on the map in near real time, and have huge potential for damage assessment after storms … just get members of the public to email pictures from their smart phones (in addition to your crews), and you have a really powerful crowdsourced solution, that can give you a much better near real time view of the situation than you have today.
  • Mention example of field systems – how are these currently secured?Growth in customer web portals – need to work out internet securityMore complex network security challenges in smart grid
  • The back button is the most used feature of web browsers
  • Mention change from enterprise driven innovation to consumer driven innovation


  • 1. Smallworld and GoogleThe best of both worlds
    Peter Batty
    September 10, 2010Smallworld User Conference, Baltimore
  • 2. 1: The Revolution
  • 3. 2: Different Approaches
  • 4. 3: The Cloud
  • 5. 4: Usability
  • 6. The Revolution
  • 7. GIS has been a specialized backroom technology for many years
  • 8.
  • 9.
  • 10.
    Location is now
    Pervasive and Simple
    in consumer applications
  • 11. Disruptive technology
    Functionality /
    Established technology
    Disruptive technology
  • 12.
  • 13.
  • 14.
  • 15. Ease of use
  • 16. Access to data: imagery
  • 17. Access to data: street view
  • 18. Access to data: geocoding & local search
  • 19. Directions
  • 20. Live or predicted traffic data
  • 21. Ease of scaling and administration
  • 22. Different Approaches
    to Google integration
  • 23. Sparse data
    Sparse data
    Often don’t need GIS maps
    KML and GeoRSS are good formats
  • 24. KML
    is child’s play!
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <name>Simple placemark</name>
    <description>Attached to the ground. Intelligently places itself
    at the height of the underlying terrain.</description>
  • 25. So is
    <title>M 3.2, Mona Passage</title>
    <link href=""/>
    <summary>We just had a big one.</summary>
    <georss:point>45.256 -71.92</georss:point>
  • 26. Marketing application
    KML viewable in Google Earth or Maps on multiple devices including iPhone etc
  • 27. You can use KML in lots of places
    KML uploaded to GeoCommons and used for thematic mapping
  • 28. KML
    The Good
    Good for sparse and dynamic data
    Works with multiple platforms / products
  • 29. KML
    The Bad
    Hard to match Smallworld styles
    Hard to scale to large data volumes
  • 30. Dense Data
  • 31. Raster map tiles
    Pre-render maps into image files
    Approach used by Google, Microsoft, etc
    Very high performance and scalability
    Easy to integrate with Google Maps etc
  • 32. Tile data volumes (global)
    Calculations by Charlie Savage
  • 33. System Architecture
    Other enterprise systems
    Web mapping server(s)
    Google/Bing servers
    OMS, WMS, CIS …
    Streetview, geocoding
    Spatial database
    Raster map tiles
    Base maps, imagery
    REST, GeoRSS, …
    End user
    Any web browser
    Desktop or mobile
    Easy to use
    High performance and scalability
  • 34. Google strengths
    Smallworld GSS
    Simple viewing and query
    Rich data
    Additional functionality:
    geocoding, routing
    Simple “data mashups”
    Rich functionality
    Leverage existing applications
    Business process integration
    Network tracing
    Data update
    Highly complementary!
  • 35.
  • 36. Matches Smallworld styles
  • 37. Google basemap gives context
  • 38. Google satellite map
  • 39. What if my data doesn’t match?
  • 40. Street View gives extra info
  • 41. Street View gives extra info
  • 42. Street View gives extra info
  • 43. Google style one box search
    Something on “Google style search”
  • 44. Autocomplete search
  • 45. Autocomplete search
  • 46. Reports in search too
  • 47. Reports from search
  • 48. Reports from search
  • 49. Google geocoding very flexible
  • 50. Google local search
  • 51. “Enterprise mashups”
    Smart Grid
  • 52. Ability to link to maps
  • 53. Click link, no software needed!
  • 54. Google Maps is mobile too!
    … and tablets including iPad
    Runs on smart phones including iPhone…
  • 55. Geo-referenced photos
  • 56. Damage assessment
  • 57. …/a2e/data/datasources/Pole/90974
  • 58. …/a2e/data/datasources/Pole/90974?f=gjson
    REST APIs: simple and powerful
  • 59. …/a2e/data/datasources//Pole/search?f=gjson
  • 60.
  • 61.
  • 62.
  • 63.
  • 64.
  • 65. REST is good!!
    Jason Birch
    <Picture of Jason>
    City of Nanaimo
  • 66. Running in the
  • 67. This is an old Google data center (2005)
    Each container holds
    This facility holds an estimated
  • 68. 40
    Google has an estimated
    data centers…
    1 million
    …holding an estimated
  • 69. 3 billion
    searches per day
    searches per second
  • 70. 2 billion
    videos per day
  • 71. 100 million
    monthly users
  • 72. one zillion times more computer science PhDs than your company or mine has
  • 73. HUGE
    economies of scale
    Your IT department
  • 74. Save BIG!!
  • 75. EC2 Pricing
    September 5, 2010
  • 76. My daily quotas (max $5 per day)
    46.5 CPU hours
    6.5 CPU hours free
    43.2m web requests!
  • 77. My total server costs for development of myWorld so far
  • 78.
    but is it SECURE???
  • 79. $24.5bn
    2009 revenue
  • 80. 4th
    fastest growing
    company in Fortune top 100, 2010
  • 81. 170 million users, Feb 2010
  • 82. “Government’s record year of data loss”
    Daily Telegraph, UK, 2008
    The biggest single loss was in November when Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, revealed two CDs with personal details of 25 million child benefit claimants and their parents had gone missing in the post.
    Last February it emerged 80 passports are lost in the post every month.
    Last month, CDs with personal information on thousands of benefit claimants were found at the home of a former contractor to the Department of Work and Pensions.
    Three weeks ago Ruth Kelly, the Transport Secretary, admitted that the details of three million learner drivers had gone missing when a hard drive was lost in Iowa.
  • 83. There is a strong case that
    your data
    more secure
    in the cloud
  • 84. Agility
    Google Maps had 400 releases in its first 4 years
  • 85. Cloud benefits
    Ultra scalable
    Major cost savings
    Hardware, admin, upgrades
    Much faster enhancements & fixes
  • 86. Usability
  • 87. I highly recommend this book
  • 88. My top 3 rules for good usability
    Do usability testing
    Do usability testing
    Do usability testing
  • 89. Doing a usability test
    Put application in front of user
    Shut up
  • 90.
  • 91.
  • 92. We don’t read web pages, we skim them
  • 93. We don’t evaluate all the options, we pick the first plausible one
  • 94. What the designer sees
  • 95. What the user sees
  • 96. What the user sees
  • 97. What the user sees
  • 98. We usually just see a fraction of what is on the page
  • 99. Use conventions
  • 100. Omit needless words
    Get rid of half the words on each page,
    then get rid of half of what’s left
    Krug’s third law of usability
  • 101. Don’t make me think
    Krug’s first law of usability
  • 102. Summary
  • 103. Fast train?
  • 104. Usability / simplicity
  • 105. Cloud
  • 106. ?