Grontmij Polska carried out a water maintenance plan for the Regional Water Management Board in Poznań. The basis for work was a database of sections of rivers from all over the Warta river basin divided into sections according to a methodology agreed upon with the Purchaser. Four people at the GIS department acquired all the necessary data from various sources, and put them into a coherent form. A key part of the entire project was to make an assessment of sections of water, and to propose protection options. From the technical point of view it consisted in describing each section by approx. 30 attributes. Around 20 people worked on the whole assessment. Time was short. Employees at the GIS department had to plan the work together with the estimated risk.
The first option, classic, was to divide the layer made of 2700 sections in 20 “packages” and send them via e-mail to employees and subcontractors. After a specific time the “packages” were to return via e-mail and be re-integrated. A seemingly trivial matter proved to be very risky. Here are the main risks:
transfer of editable files (geobase) to 20 people will result in losing control over the consistency of the database. There may be a situation in which someone adds or removes a column, changes its name or data type. This will cause huge problems when merging the data.
It was known that professionals in the field of environmental protection are not experienced in GIS. This gave rise to concerns about the technical quality of the work (accidentally changed geometry, deleted records, slow pace of work), and technical problems (different software and the associated file transformation, changes made to coding, systems, etc.).
In this variant, data administrators had no control over auxiliary materials on the basis of which the assessment was to be made (mostly forms of nature protection). There was a risk that some people will not use the transferred data but will base their assessment on other data (for various reasons: habit, knowledge of the data, etc.).
users feared changes to the structure of attributes that may occur after the start of assessment on the basis of the Orderer’s proposal/suggestion. In that case, administrators could not be sure if all employees added changes to the data source on their own.
Data transferring via e-mail or sharing it through the network drive is also a problem. Component files of shp files can get lost or damaged, causing problems that are difficult to identify. What is more, attention was paid to the issue of sending corrected data after merging.
GIS users feared merging of data that due to the aforementioned risks might not be suitable for merging.
Managers feared lack of responsibility for work because of multiple transformations of the source data.
Another option was the collaboration with GIS Support and the use of DIVI which at that time was in the phase of intensive tests. The following was identified as the main risks:
The use of a brand new, untested system
The reaction of employees and contractors to working in a network environment was feared
However, the list of benefits turned out to be far longer:
Work on one layer eliminated problems resulting from dividing, double transmission and merging of data.
DIVI provided full history of editing of each section of the river. The history could be used to dispel any doubts.
GIS users were to be 100% sure that everyone was using these forms of nature protection.
No one, except for authorized persons, was able to change the structure of the layer and the dictionary values.
The DIVI option was selected. GIS users became administrators of the DIVI account and created accounts for all the people involved in the project. The layer with sections of rivers and forms of nature protection (on the basis of which the assessment was to be made) was uploaded into the system. Due to a very large number of editable attributes, working on an ordinary table of attributes turned out to be inconvenient. A simple and very convenient web-based data editor based on DIVI API was created (it took more than ten hours to create the application).
The work went quickly and smoothly. Of course, during the editing process there were some “changes to the concept”, and changes to the edited layer had to be made. Due to the use of DIVI it did not cause any problem. Editors did not even have to be informed about that situation as it did not affect their work.
The rate at which the work was carried out and the achieved quality (no data was damaged, no data needed improvement, no tedious browsing and troubleshooting) surprised everyone. However, experts in the field of environmental protection were the happiest ones. They had been afraid of the enormous amount of work to be done in the GIS environment to which they were not convinced. Working on a very simple web application turned out convenient for them. They could actually focus on assessing the content without struggling with data, software and GIS users. The best summary of the use of DIVI is a quote from an email we received after the completion of the project:
I am not into GIS,
I fear QGIS…
I work in DIVI