Project wrap-up

A New Database Platform for Metro

metroBig changes!

We have recently completed a project for our friends at Metro - the Portland area’s regional planning agency – where we assisted them in “re-platforming” their major databases from Oracle to SQL Server. We seem to be making a habit of working with Metro when they are making big changes!

Big risks!

The Oracle databases were integral to many internal and public-facing web applications as well as data processing routines and desktop analysis tools used throughout Metro and by other agency partners. In other words, there was a lot on the line! As you might imagine, there was a fairly high degree of anxiety; not about any particular issue, so much as simply about the breadth of connections and dependencies that needed to be planned out, migrated, tested, and put into production.

Did we mention that we had a little over a month to plan out the approach and implement it?

Luckily, for us, the Metro team was a pleasure to work with – diligent, detail-oriented, and mission focused. They did a great job in the pre-planning even before we began our work. Our planning-phase tasks involved performing legacy database analysis and assessment, including identifying system dependencies and prioritizing the migration of databases and applications accordingly.

Big rewards!

When we’d made it through the library of planning phase tasks, sub-tasks and sub-sub-tasks, the moment for the cutover was upon us. People from our combined teams hunkered down for a long night and proceeded step-by-step through the final maneuvers.

It all turned out to be a bit anticlimactic. Our teams were all able to head home well ahead of schedule that evening with no-need to initiate any of the much-discussed triage activities.

We like to think that wasn’t all luck.

With the migration complete, Metro (and everyone that depends upon those databases) can continue with business-as-usual, with the confidence that their systems will work as expected.

Some of the interesting tidbits

  • We used Microsoft’s SQL Azure Migration Wizard that added efficiency and provided interesting if unverified metrics about how much time we saved over taking a more manual approach.
  • We integrated some bench-marking processes into the migration steps so we could progressively analyze performance changes as we adapted applications and code to work with the new platform.
  • We did some load testing on the new system and got a chance to throttle up and see how well it would stand the heat of simultaneous users, as well as processor-intensive operations. Identifying and resolving any potential bottlenecks ahead of implementation certainly helps with performance anxiety, of a certain kind.
  • When you’re in the middle of big change, it’s a good opportunity to…make changes. We worked together to do a lot of house keeping and deferred maintenance and updating.

Find out where to hunt and target shoot in Oregon on your mobile device

The Oregon Hunting Access Map

IMG_9130We’ve recently completed work on a new hunting and target shooting web site for the Oregon State Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) that was built specifically for optimal use on mobile devices. The Oregon Hunting Access Map has been around for several years now. We built the original version back when people accessed the internet from their desktop or laptop computers. In the few years since, mobile devices have taken over as the computer of choice when accessing information on the internet. It seems only natural that the Oregon Hunting Access Map would be adapted to fit this growing need. Now, when you go to on your mobile device, you will be directed to the mobile-friendly version. Desktop/laptop users will continue to see the version optimized for their use.

Modern coding makes it accessible on any mobile device

The mobile market is split pretty evenly between Android and iOS, so rather than develop an application specific to either operating system, we built a web site that scales well and works on any browser. Using the AngularJS framework, we were able to provide ODFW with a solution that will work on any mobile device, saving them time and money on developing a unique app for every operating system, while giving the end-user the experience of using an app. By using Angular, we were able to quickly build, test and deploy the site.

Modern, interactive map

The site is essentially an interactive map that gives users the ability to filter the contents, either by species or by shooting range type. Looking to hunt for Wilson’s Snipe? Or perhaps to find a range near you that hosts Cowboy Action Shooting competitions? We’ve got you covered. You simply select what you’re looking for – whether it be a particular IMG_9132type of animal or a shooting range type – and then see all of the places that match your selection on a map. With the phone’s GPS turned on, you can see your location in relation to the spots that fit your selection. Using your phone’s default mapping application, you can get driving directions to the spots that you’re interested in.

More than just a map

This isn’t an application that simply shows you dots on a map. It provides you with all of the information that you’ll need to not only find a location, but to learn more about that location. On the hunting access map, there is contextual information provided for every hunting area – information such as the acreage, a description, who manages the area, IMG_9131access, regulations, if there’s camping, and any alerts related to that area. The shooting range map provides information such as facility details, available range types, and services offered. Contact information is available for all hunting areas and shooting ranges.

Powerful, Offline Functionality

With the power of GeoPDFs, not only can you can use the app to plan your hunt, but you can use it while you’re in the field. Out in the wilderness, your phone may not be connected to a cellular network, but it is still connected to GPS satellites. Most of the hunting areas in the app have an available GeoPDF, which is a detailed, PDF map of the area. It is Geo-enabled, so it will use your phone’s GPS signal to show your exact position on a the map. Additionally, you can add photos, record your GPS tracks, drop pins (where you parked, your camp site, where you bagged that deer, etc.) – and when it’s all done, share your map with others (if you really want to give away your secret hunting spot…). In our field-testing, the phone combined with the GeoPDF did just as good a job at way-finding as a stand-alone GPS unit. With the Oregon Hunting Access Map on the phone in your pocket, you can leave home with one less piece of equipment!

Strategic Planning for the City of Portland

Portland, Oregon’s Corporate GIS office (CGIS) is now operating under a new Strategic Plan.  Our team had the pleasure of engaging with a broad number of City staff and partners to lead a process of envisioning and articulating how CGIS will deliver geospatial services and boost the City’s location intelligence over the next several years.

The Gartrell Group performed a detailed assessment of CGIS’s staff capabilities, their data and technologies, and their portfolio of services. We also facilitated a series of workshops to invigorate stakeholder discussion, identify current needs and challenges, and to elicit the highest priorities of the users and beneficiaries of Portland’s geospatial tools and data.  We used findings from these efforts to craft and refine a plan for how the City may best apply resources for the greatest possible impact.

The adopted plan bridges topics of organizational strategy, data management, and technology management. It expresses a renovated vision and mission for CGIS and outlines how these may be realized through a clear and measurable set of objectives.  Importantly, the endeavor of the planning process itself – the workshops, the brainstorming, balloting activities, and collaborative needs discovery – helped to strengthen bonds between the City’s management and stakeholders and to re-open communication channels across department and agency boundaries.

Assisting organizations develop and enhance their location strategy is one of our core services and a keen area of interest among all of our team members. We think the work is important, we enjoy the process, and we take a lot of satisfaction in seeing the acceleration that happens once a customer has spent some time getting (re) acquainted with their location strategy and direction.

We are equipped with a very adaptive toolkit of strategy development know-how, means, and methods, and we can tailor an approach suited to your particular needs and questions. Please contact us if you’d be interested in learning more about how we can help your organization improve location strategy.