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).


Provincial Heritage Registry Data Cleaning – British Columbia Archaeology Branch

The Client

The BC Ministry of Small Business and Tourism, Archaeology Branch provides programs designed to encourage and facilitate the protection, conservation and public appreciation of BC's archaeological resources as mandated by the Heritage Conservation Act.

The Problem

For the past century, the province has gathered records containing descriptions and mapped locations of archaeological sites (e.g. artifacts, burial grounds, shipwrecks). In the early 1990s an Oracle database called the Provincial Heritage Registry Database (PHRD) was developed to categorize and track information about each of BC's sites. Subsequently, a GIS system composed of Arc/View and Arc/Info was created to view and locate these sites spatially.

Unfortunately the attribute information tracked in PHRD was not always synchronized with spatial sites in the GIS. For example, sites had sometimes been inadvertently duplicated in the GIS, other times sites had been deleted in PHRD but not in the GIS. Refractions was asked to develop a process that would clean up the PHRD and GIS data, and ensure that from henceforth it would remain in synch.

The Solution

In order to match PHRD and GIS records, the unique key identifying each site (the Borden number) had to be cleaned. Perl scripts and other cleaning processes were used on the Borden numbers to ensure a maximal join. It was decided that the single authoritative source of the attribute and spatial data would be the PHRD; spatial coordinate columns were added to PHRD to store site locations.

For records that matched, the PHRD was populated with the locations from the GIS. Sites which did not join cleanly were either salvaged automatically by using a series of algorithms that retrieved and reprojected legacy locations from PHRD, or manually by revisiting paper documentation for each site. Finally, we created FME scripts to generate a spatial snapshot from PHRD, and worked with ESRI staff to modify their GIS macros to update the GIS/PHRD interaction.

The Result

PHRD is up-to-date so that it now houses the most complete and accurate spatial site locations available. A new snapshot of the cleaned GIS data is also currently in use in the branch's GIS application; FME scripts created the snapshot from PHRD. The existing GIS system and scripts were modified such that additions and changes to site locations through Arc/View are now reflected in PHRD. As a result, the Archaeology Branch has a clean set of site locations and descriptions in a single authoritative source: PHRD.