GeoWorld September 2012

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S topping data from leaking out of an organiza- tion is an issue that many IT departments are facing today. Historically, key data points critical to business operations have been stored in spread- sheets, local databases or even personal memory. This can include vital details such as infrastructure locations, attributes and paths. Through retirement or employees changing jobs, such data can be lost without chance of recovery. Using a Web GIS application to collect such informa- tion can improve long-term storage and user efficiency as well as help technology groups get the data into a stable and maintainable format. When tackling such an issue, the solution's usabil- ity across the organization must be considered first and foremost. Accessing the data needs to be quick and easy. The underlying data have to be editable, and updates need to be quickly passed throughout the user base, and the system needs to be robust to maintain flexibility across a variety of groups and their requirements. A Web GIS application is an obvious solution for these needs. From a development standpoint, Web GIS applications are quick to create and easy to main- tain. The Internet provides the means for sharing data, and Web GIS can continue to grow and provide starting points for future development. Most importantly, Web GIS fully supports the advancement of the organization while solving the underlying problem of data leaks. One such organization facing this issue is Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association (Tri-State), an electric co-op that operates in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and western Nebraska. As is common with many large utilities, there have been significant changes in the workforce, and, as a result, information was leak- ing—sometimes at a rapid rate. Large amounts of crucial data exist in non-enterprise systems—sometimes in an entirely non-digital format. Faced with this problem as well as an enterprise need to visualize and access data on a large scale, there was and is a large push to capture the data in a single location accessible by many different users and applications. Getting Started One of the major (and often first) challenges at a company trying to adopt new technology is shifting employee use. It can be difficult to convince users to move from an old technology to a new one—especially with a tenured workforce that's extremely proficient at the current method. To address this issue, it's important to fully explain the benefits for the individual, team and organization. Highlighting examples of using the data, from teams quick to pick up new tools, builds excitement around the new technology and the effort it takes to build a new data source. Giving details on the importance of a relational database for maintenance and sharing also is useful. In addition, recognizing the development team's customer-service role is valuable in developing useful dialog among groups. Throughout this process, it's important to begin to show progress, so users know there will be an end result. From a development standpoint, it's also impor- tant to keep in mind that technology changes quickly, and it doesn't stop while developing your solution. This issue was encountered while developing a solu- tion for Tri-State: its first application release was a Web GIS can be used to quickly and efficiently collect large volumes of data using a combination of geographic searches and Web forms. S EP T E M BER 2O12 / WWW . GEOPLA CE . COM 15

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