Where does inspiration come from?
For the City of Hamilton’s Public Health Unit in Ontario, Canada, necessity really did turn out to be the mother of invention. What started out as a straightforward automation project turned into a first-class data visualization, statistical analysis, and interactive reporting tool – something that helps the city direct its efforts for mosquito control and West Nile Virus prevention.
Every week, the City’s Public Health Unit compiles, analyzes, and reports on mosquito activity. The source data is a combination of spatial information – trap locations, habitats, water sites – and current field data – species, gender, and lab test results for West Nile Virus. The results of this analysis inform decisions on risk and prevention activities.
When Dave Salter, Supervisor, Business Applications, Citizen Services, set out to find opportunities for automation, he realized that this particular workflow was both manually intensive and relied on the availability of one specialist, a potential point of failure. And so he asked Shane Thombs, GIS Planning Technician, to see if FME could help.
“We set out to automate a process that involved databases, spreadsheets, Geomedia® Pro, and three different people touching the data along the way,” says Thombs. “The original plan was just to streamline and create some KML – but once we got started, the ideas just kept coming, and we decided to explore using FME as a statistical analysis tool as well.”
Thombs made extensive use of three transformers in particular. The StatisticsCalculator helps look for population changes and lab result trends that require attention, and the results are then displayed graphically in pop-ups using both the WebCharter transformer and StringConcatenator-generated URLs driving the Google Charting API.
“The biggest benefit of FME for us is being able to integrate completely unrelated technologies through one medium”, says Dave Salter. “We were producing a paper report with one man-week’s effort before – and now FME gives us an interactive report in 12 minutes.”
What’s next? FME Server, and on-demand report generation, available to their users anywhere, anytime. Inspired!
To read more about this project, visit www.safe.com/hamilton