Creating geospatial mashups with Visual Fusion

Marek Koenig specializes in Business Intelligence, SharePoint and Custom Development.

Marek Koenig specializes in Business Intelligence, SharePoint and Custom Development.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: You’re asked by your boss to find the correlation between the data coming out of your data warehouse and some Excel spreadsheets. He wants to know why some of the call centers have been getting inundated recently with higher call volumes. Just looking at these two sources of data you’re having trouble finding a good answer to the question. You realize that the data includes addresses of your call centers and the areas that they support.

To achieve better insight and understanding, you can load up your data into Visual Fusion, a data visualization platform built by IDV Solutions. The data can then be consolidated into a single interactive view. No more having to go through different reports, trying to match it up with sales data, and seeing if socio-economic factors are related.

Using these maps, timelines, lists, charts, and filters you can quickly compare scenarios. Determine which type of store sells more merchandise at different times of the year. With all these different visualizations, you’re enabled to discover new relationships that you would not have been able to find before.

 VisualFusion1

Visual Fusion comes with many built-in connectors to the data you need. You can geocode data from SharePoint lists and libraries, web feeds, Bing Maps web services, Twitter, and SQL Server. Imagine taking a SharePoint list off all your office locations and instantly having a map in a couple of clicks. If your data is only exposed via web service, you can easily consume it with Visual Fusion; XML is a supported format for data retrieval. The most popular source is the data warehouse you already have for your enterprise. Out-of-the-box support exists for MS SQL Server 2012/2008, while additional connectors for SalesForce, Oracle, and other enterprise data sources are also available.

One of Visual Fusion’s coolest features is the ability to bring in information from the web. This data can describe current weather patterns, the population density in the US, tweets on a certain topic—pretty much anything you can imagine. One specific scenario it could be used in is to warn employees of impending catastrophic weather. Below you can see Hurricane Sandy’s current position (at the time), projected path, and the locations it would affect. Using this data you can set up automated alerts for the locations in the superstorm’s path.

 VisualFusion2

The entire application can be thoroughly customized by editing user XML files. You can configure the interface to add new icons, disable map tools, change the map, and many other options. Advanced customization of your data feeds is also available by adding charts and graphs, filters, and drill-to-details like external reports. The look and feel of the feeds and tools can also be altered using XAML.

Installing the SDK can open the door to full-blown application development and modification. With the SDK, you will be able to build a Visual Fusion application and deploy it outside of a SharePoint portal. The toolset will also allow a higher degree of customization that was not previously available through the user interface and XML files. Tutorials are available to aid in your quest for complete alteration.

If your business is concerned with physical security, you can use one of the risk awareness templates to build a secure solution. Your team can manage the security of your facilities by monitoring live web cam feeds integrated into floor plans, track the locations of key individuals, and respond to global threats. For instance, say your CEO is traveling to Paris and you notice some riots break out on his path. You can quickly react to the situation and reroute the executive to a safe location.

All of these solutions can be easily integrated into your existing SharePoint environment or built as a stand-alone application. If you leverage SharePoint, you can take advantage of its built-in features to manage your content and incorporate your current user base.

The easy framework allows you to build a fully functional application that can be viewed from a phone or tablet in a matter of hours. As long as your data has a geospatial component, like an address or a set of latitude/longitude coordinates, you can map it. You can even upload data directly from your phone and have it show up on the map.

Using all the tools and techniques described here you can build a top-notch security application, informative mashups, or interactive dashboards. The possibilities are truly endless; the only limitation is your imagination.

About marek koenig
Microsoft consultant specializing in BI, SharePoint and custom development.

2 Responses to Creating geospatial mashups with Visual Fusion

  1. Eric N. says:

    Marek, nice examples and descriptions…enjoyed reading this blog.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: