At Safe we often talk about how applications crave data. Without data, applications are useless. However, the relationship between data and applications is symbiotic, as data without applications is also useless.
What’s the point of an organization collecting data if it’s not going to use it? What organizations really need to do, is to get the all of their data moving faster and faster to the people and applications that need it.
The 5 Rights of Effective Spatial Data Delivery
In the past, we used to consider four main components for the effective use of spatial data: making sure that the Right Data, gets to the Right People, at the Right Place, and at the Right Time. These four have been evolving, and with the emergence of push capabilities, there is now a fifth – the Right Way.
- The Right Data – The volume of data and the number of its sources are rapidly growing – leading to a two-fold challenge. First, identifying the best available data for the task at hand is a real concern. Second, to be used effectively the data must be delivered to the user’s application in a way that it is immediately usable. The less post-delivery processing that has to be performed on the data before it can be used, the better.
- The Right People – In today’s organizations everyone needs access to data. However, in many cases not everyone should be allowed to see the same data. Privacy and security need to be taken seriously.
- The Right Place – With the proliferation of mobile devices, the right place increasingly means whatever location a person is currently at. Today people expect to be able to access their systems from wherever they are, so long as they have a web connection.
- The Right Time –
This means “whenever I need it” or ASAIIP (“as soon as it is available”). In short, people expect to be able to easily use the most up-to-date data, all the time. (Stewart recently touched on the growing expectation of real-time delivery of data and how new web-based HTML technology can make this happen.)
- The Right Way – The fifth Right is one that we have ignored until now. It is the way in which the data is delivered, either via a pull or a push – more on that below.
“Data Push” versus “Data Pull”
Today spatial data is mostly delivered using a “pull” paradigm. “Pull” is when the receiving person or application initiates the flow of data. While this works fine in many cases, it can also result in a sub-optimal situation where the recipient (a person or application) is forced to continually check to see if there is any new or changed data available from the producer. In this situation, the resources of both the sender and recipient are wasted.
A better paradigm for this situation is when the sender sends (“pushes”) data to the receiver when data of interest is available. With this approach there is no need for the recipient to continually “ask” the sender anything – the data is delivered as soon as it’s available.
(Aside: Now the interesting part becomes how the recipient is able to specify what data they are interested in, and conversely how the data pushing is triggered. Stay tuned for more on this in January when FME 2012 is released – see the countdown clock here. If you have any thoughts or examples on how you would like to use this new capability, let me know.)
To be clear, the data push approach is not always the right solution as in some cases, it’s more desirable that the recipient trigger the data flow. The introduction of “data push” does however open a whole new way for users to keep the data moving. That is to say: getting the Right Data, gets to the Right People, at the Right Place, at the Right Time, and – now – in the Right Way.
[Note: this is the last post on It’s All About Data for 2011. See you again in the new year!]
Don MurrayDon is the co-founder and President of Safe Software. Safe Software was founded originally doing work for the BC Government on a project sharing spatial data with the forestry industry. During that project Don and other co-founder, Dale Lutz, realized the need for a data integration platform like FME. When Don’s not raving about how much he loves XML, you can find Don working with the team at Safe to take the FME product to the next level. You will also find him on the road talking with customers and partners to learn more about what new FME features they’d like to see.