Case Study: The Coal Authority (GIS)
The Coal Authority (TCA) works to resolve the impacts of mining. To fulfil this remit the Coal Authority uses a significant amount of spatial data (more than 120 layers) and has a sophisticated set of integrated enterprise strength geospatial tools that allow them to manage their spatial data assets and undertake their day to day tasks. These tools include:
+ Public-facing tools that capture and process boundary data as part of the mining reports service
+ An internal corporate GIS browser that shares spatial data and performs specific tasks across the entire organisation
+ Desktop tools for complex data modelling.
Over time, some of these components required refreshing either due to performance issues and/or the vendor deprecating some of the technology, most notably the web mapping component.
Faced with the deprecation of the core technology that underpinned the internal corporate GIS browser SCISYS worked with the Coal Authority to look at the options. Following initial research this came down to two:
+ An open source equivalent
SCISYS undertook research into both products and produced a recommendations paper for the Coal Authority. This concluded that the open source approach should be adopted as:
+ It had already proven to be more performant (this was shown via the Coal Authorities public interface where the COTS component had previously been replaced)
+ It could easily replicate the look and feel of the web mapping component
+ It could interface with COTS server component through a REST API thus this component could be kept
+ It is in line with Government policy
As an Open Source project the Coal Authority could better influence the product roadmap / resolve issues and contribute back to the project (e.g. SCISYS contributed back to the GeoTools project)
Following on from the study SCISYS worked in partnership with the Authority to implement the recommendation.
The Authority is now running a hybrid architecture that retains the best elements of the COTS toolset for performing complex analytical tasks and supplements them with lighter weight more performant and flexible tools (OpenLayers and Geoserver) for capturing/presenting data both publically and internally. As a result of this work the Coal Authority now has a solution that:
+ Is open by design and can be extended to handle increased demand with no additional licence costs
+ Is more performant thus providing a better user experience
+ Was cheaper and easier to develop
+ Is still supported
+ Works alongside their existing investment and thus did not require a whole-scale replacement of all components