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Dashboard on the go

By [email protected] - 19th December 2011 - 21:19

Matthew DeMeritt explores the possibilities of a map-enabled enterprise oversight tool for the iPad
Since the emergence of the iPad, government and business users have been eager to exploit the device as a serious business tool. Software professionals like Chuck Spink, senior product manager at Accela, Inc., ( envisioned an app that would provide real-time access to data from Accelaâs flagship enterprise software for government, Accela Automation, displayed as a combination of charts, graphs, and maps. As hundreds of governments already use Accela Automation to monitor and automate many traditional tasks, creating a remote dashboard to display back-end data seemed the next logical step to extend the systemâs benefits. After successful testing at several agencies, Accelaâs iPad app, Accela Analytics, is now freely available to Accela Automation customers via Appleâs iTunes App Store. Dashboards have a complementary relationship with systems like Accela Automation. They provide a window to enterprise data, aggregating and processing it for ease of analysis. When someone in a city applies for a permit or license, pays a fee, schedules an inspection, or engages in any transaction with their government, Accela Automation keeps precise records of those activities and represents those records as points on a map. The softwareâs integration with Esri\'s ArcGIS provides the âwhat and whereâ component that organisations need to understand activity and make effective decisions. Accela Analytics extends this value to iPad users by connecting to an agencyâs map data published from their ArcGIS Server or maps from ArcGIS Online. Accessing the summary information of a permit, license application, or code case is as simple as tapping the map marker on the appâs UI. Accela Analytics has four screens, three of which connect to the Esri mapping engine for geospatial viewing of data. Agencies and departments can view charts and graphs of activity, while maps show the location of records along with other related information. A Watch List screen drills down further into each record, providing more detailed access to records such as applicant name, parcel number, and so forth. Since all information is read-only, items in the list can be removed without affecting the back-end data. âAccela Analytics lets users track a range of application trends, such as inspections, open cases, and so forth,â says Spink. âA supervisor can view building permits, licensing activity, and other kinds of records in chart form and then tap the corresponding locations on the map to see address, record type, and record ID of the items represented in the chart.â Accela senior product manager Brian Wienke says that speed and flexibility was a paramount goal with the app. âFor agencies that may not have robust GIS infrastructure, our vision was to provide them with rich cartographic maps that look good, are easy to deploy, and render fast,â Wienke says. âEsriâs ArcGIS Online solution provided the best performance of all the mapping solutions we considered.â An early adopter of Accela Analytics, Salt Lake City director of building services and code compliance Orion Goff, appreciates maps being a central focus of the app. Like any city department manager, Goff attends meetings with government managers who have questions about workgroup activity and labor distribution. \"We have 16 different workgroups sharing the core database, all clearly represented on the map using color-coded pushpins,â says Goff. âThat gives managers a broad view of what all the different city workgroups are doing from a statistical standpoint.â Current figures such as number of licenses and permits applied for in a given area can be called up in an instant with just a few taps and swipes. Goff also uses Accela Analytics to monitor building inspection calls. âAnalytics makes access to the data for the purpose of administrating processes really simple and quick,â says Goff. âFor example, Iâm in a conference right now and checking how many inspections are scheduled for our building inspector group.â From the app, Goff can drill down into the data to see if the number of inspectors is sufficient on a particular date and balance the load if he sees a disparity. Like Goff, Keith Alvis, maintenance management coordinator for the city of Westminster, Colorado, also uses the app to manage his resource needs. âIf I need to reference asset data in my meeting, all I have to do is open the app and tap the location and all information is there,â Alvis says. Analytics also lets Alvis see the quantity of calls received over time and allows him to graph out the number of calls received over a designated date range. âIf we see that certain customer service calls trend up or down, this may give us an indication of future resources that may be needed,â he adds.With shrinking budgets and ever-increasing workloads, governments need simple oversight tools that present enterprise information in real time. Working in tandem with enterprise systems that leverage GIS, iPad apps like Accela Analytics provide the ideal launching point for viewing the back-end data that drives government and business operations.----------------------------------------------Matthew DeMeritt is a staff writer with Esri (

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