The computational models that are used for environmental management require specialized viewers. Both the input for the models and the output are mostly large spatial data sets with a wide variety of variables. Standard web tools for presenting such data are usually too limited. Therefore, special viewers must be developed on the basis of standard web frameworks.
Apart from insight in the data as such, users typically also require derived quantities. This can be meta-data, like which timeseries are available and how old the latest forecast is, or quantities that need to be computed from the data, like an average wind speed. This also makes the viewers special: they need to process the data to obtain such derived information.
Developing specialized viewers requires a subtle interplay between user and developer. Here, VORtechs special character is invaluable: we have the technical and scientific knowledge to understand the application, and hence the user, and at the same time we know the details of available web tools so that we can build what is needed.
An example: viewers for water management
VORtech develops viewers for watermanagement in close collaboration with the knowledge institute Deltares. These viewers are used by people in the Netherlands and abroad who monitor coastal waters, make forecasts and take action in case of an emergency like a storm or an oil spill. This blog gives an extensive description of this work.
Specialized viewers for this application are, for example:
- The wave spectrum, shown in a compass rose as a function of the direction of the wind.
- The direction of the wind and the forecast, including uncertainty, again shown in a compass rose.
- An overview of the expectation that high tide at Lobith exceeds a certain threshold.
- An overview of the structural differences between model forecasts and observed values.
- A day mode and night mode, to avoid blinding users at night.
Our services for developing specialized viewers
Our services for developing specialized viewers have three main aspects, which typically emerge in various combinations in a project:
- Design the viewers that are needed in close collaboration with the users. This is usually a very interactive discussion, where users provide a first sketch which VORtech employees elaborate, after which the users give feedback, etc.
- Developing the viewers on the basis of powerful web frameworks. This may sound easy, but there is often very complex and subtle data manipulation involved. Also, large data sets come in from all over the world at irregular moments. It can be challenging, therefore, to build viewers that are responsive and display the latest information at any moment.
- Maintenance and further development of viewers. Experience has shown that users get new wishes and ideas as they are using their tools. Implementing these makes their live easier and their work therefore better. Besides, technical development continues apace: web frameworks change and new, better frameworks emerge that allow for even better viewers. These developments also necessitate a (partial) redevelopment of viewers from time to time.
Note that VORtech does not host the viewers: hosting is left to the customer. But of course we can help with deployment.