Other Case Studies

SMART Conservation Software

The SMART partnership supports improved law enforcement and biological monitoring in protected areas around the world. They came to Refractions to build a software tool to help meet their needs.


Hectares BC – Biodiversity BC on behalf of a broad partnership

Biodiversity BC and its government and non-government partners were looking for regional-level environmental statistics. Refractions proposed a new approach to generating GIS summaries, using the power of a relational database and web tools to provide GIS analysis to users who previously had no access to it.


Automated Route Planning for Meter Reading – City of Vancouver

The City of Vancouver collects water readings from thousands of residences and businesses, but has never optimized the pedestrian routes the readers take. Refractions developed algorithms to create the most efficient routes of the correct length for readers.


Digital Road Atlas – BC Integrated Land Management Bureau

Refractions provides full-service support for the British Columbia Digital Roads Atlas – systems design, maintenance, data conflation, client service, and rapid response.


Caribou Habitat Assessment and Supply Estimator – Wildlife Infometrics Inc.

Refractions converted a legacy habitat modelling system based on ArcView 3.X to ArcGIS 9.2, and automated the workflow to provide faster turnaround time for model runs.


Line Cleaner – BC Ministry of Forests

The British Columbia Ministry of Forests needed a tool to conflate multiple roads databases into a single working layer. Refractions delivered the algorithms and a user interface based on the uDig platform.


Interest Reports – BC Ministry of Agriculture & Lands

Refractions developed an ArcMap extension to automate the calculation of standard reports joining a massive shape-file archive with a large Oracle database.


Mobile GIS – UN Food & Agriculture Organization

UN FAO needed a data collection tool that could run disconnected and didn't have a per-seat licensing cost. Refractions delivered a simple tool using the uDig desktop platform.


Open Web Services, Phase 3 – Open Geospatial Consortium

The Open Geospatial Consortium runs regular “testbed” projects to field-test new concepts in geospatial interoperability. Refractions was a part of the OWS-3 initiative, and built a uDig-based “GeoDSS” client to provide access to several other OGC standard services, including a prototype GeoVideo service.


Natural Language Spatial Search Engine for Rental Places-Rento

Rento is a free web service that makes it easy to find a place to rent in Greece. Powered by PostgreSQL and PostGIS, it provides ad listings with photographs displayed on a map. Searching is accomplished through map navigation and natural language processing, with the search engine being capable of answering complex (spatial) questions such as "flat near the University of Athens" or "loft up to 800 euros near a metro station" (in greek).


Interest Reports – British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture & Lands

Project Background

Corporate Information Services Branch (CIS) produces interest reports that are used in treaty negotiations. Interest reports identify which provincial resources are within areas of interest to treaty negotiators and summarize important characteristics of the land-base. In particular, interest reports estimate a given area of land's value to the province.

CIS had a process in place to create reports; however, it involved a series of manual steps and was quite tedious. Key steps in this process were:

  • Spatial analysis of the land under negotiation, against base data that represent the values of provincial resources.
  • Replicating the tabular results of those analyses into Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.
  • Applying formatting rules by hand to make the data suitable for consumption by a wide range of users.
  • Manually setting the current date, time, and other parameters to the template.

CIS found themselves generating new interest reports often enough to warrant an automated routine to accomplish the same set of tasks. Such a routine would speed up the analytical process, ensure consistency across reports, and eliminate traces of human error from the output. Refractions expertise was sought to design and implement a solution that CIS could use to generate interest reports with a high degree of automation.

Refractions' Solution

CIS's primary interest was that the new software would generate reports that were identical to their current output. Not bound to any particular technology or GIS platform, Refractions proposed to develop the software as an ArcMap plugin, for several reasons:

  • CIS already used ArcMap - Their staff members were familiar with its use.
  • ArcMap is a highly extensible GIS platform - It provides a Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) programming API called ArcObjects, through which plugins can be created quite easily.
  • ArcMap also provides a programming interface (through VBA) to create and modify Microsoft Excel documents.

The Result

Refractions created a custom user-interface for CIS backed by an ArcMap application. The user-interface acts as a step-by-step wizard that automatically performs the spatial operations and analyses needed to produce formatted area- based interest reports for land-treaty negotiations. Reports are produced as Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, tailored to CIS's exact business requirements. The software was installed in the client's environment, alongside a package of documentation and training materials.

CIS now uses the ArcMap plugin as their primary tool for creating area-based interest reports, and is pleased that the software has simplified and standardized this important process.

Client Benefits

The Interest Reports application has streamlined analytical workflows for CIS offering them the following distinct business advantages:

  • Vastly reduces the time and simplifies the steps required to create new interest reports.
  • Standardizes reports to CIS's exact business requirements.
  • Leaves reports free from the errors to which the previous manual process was prone.