Perhaps paradoxically, it’s hard to get simple right. Food, fashion, architecture, engineering, art, software design – and GIS – all have striking examples of delightfully simple user experiences that belie the amount of thought, design, and execution that went into creating them.
At the Municipality of Ede in the Netherlands, users who are interested in the state of building permits can open up a web browser, head to a location, and see color-coded building footprints like this example, where the green polygons indicate new construction that has been approved and is now underway. Simple, right?
Well… not really! This particular map is a window into a quite elegant process that keeps address and permit data up-to-date, automatically, across multiple municipalities, with no human intervention. How? With FME Server and email notifications.
Across the Netherlands, a series of “RUD”s – Regional Implementation Services – have been created, and each of them provides services to a number of municipalities. In Ede, the Omgevingsdienst de Vallei (OddV) is that service provider – for Ede and four other adjacent municipalities. Now, in somewhat of a reversal, Ede themselves are providing IT and geospatial services back to the OddV – and Ede is also where you’ll find Certified FME Professional Itay Bar-on of ETL Solution creating FME Server-based solutions.
FME Server Scheduling
The OddV (among many other things) needs to maintain and distribute up-to-date and accurate permit and address information. The address data has three primary components – building geometry polygons, address location points, and address attributes.
FME Server is scheduled to do a daily extraction of newly registered permits and changed permits from a central Postgres database. Each municipality is responsible for maintaining their part of the national BAG – buildings and addresses registration – and the output from this daily report is the input for this process. Once the workspace has extracted the query results, the data is filtered by municipality, and written to a series of XLS spreadsheets. Further organization of the data is done by using both writer and feature type fan-outs to create multiple documents (one per municipality) and multiple sheets per municipality, both for these spreadsheets and a second set that contains building information.
The final step is to send the appropriate documents to the corresponding municipality. FME Server has automated this as well, emailing them as attachments.
FME Server Notifications
Another component of the OddV’s workflow involves updates from the cadaster, and FME Server’s notification capabilities. FME Server is “subscribed” to a particular topic, and when it receives an email from the cadaster on this topic, it springs into action.
The email contains a download link to zipped XML data. FME Server downloads that data, saves it locally, unzips it, and puts the data in two locations – a production copy and an archive copy. The XML is then read and transformed to comply with the OddV’s database schema, and updates and inserts are performed as required. The workspace itself contains some rather complex SQL activity, with multiple tables, trigger and constraint handling, and begin and end SQL statements.
Now this is a rather simplified explanation of what’s going on behind the scenes – the transformation that is being done to the XML data is quite complex in and of itself. This is a great example of one of FME’s greatest benefits – that of creating a complicated workflow once, and then just letting it run again and again.
These are just two components of the constant flow of information between the OddV, the cadaster, and the municipalities. And the result? A green polygon – but a green polygon that (simply!) represents current, accurate information.
Itay tells us that there’s no other RUD in the country whose data is so easily and automatically kept up to date. “This is in full production now, and in use by the OddV,” he says, “and it works like a charm!” His most recent enhancement to the system involves another aspect of FME Server’s notifications – pushing messages to a mobile device based on the success/failure of a workspace’s execution. And we’re looking forward to seeing what’s next!
If you’d like to learn how to get up and running with FME Server, you can register for one of our regularly scheduled FME Server instructor-led live online courses. They’re always free, and open to all – whether or not you currently use FME. There’s an upcoming half-day FME Server course on October 29th, 2013.
Kris MajuryKris is a content developer at Safe Software who concentrates on creating documentation for FME transformers. Kris works remotely from the wonderful Gulf Islands off the coast of British Columbia.