Recent Articles and Projects

Recently an image on Twitter caught my attention. It was a snap of some handwritten meeting notes at a presentation by (I assume) Peter Speyer. In the corner the notetaker had scribbled a comment, “no more spreadsheets scrolls.” I read that, and thought to myself, “amen.”

This enterprise data warehouse project follows the Ralph Kimball approach to designing an EDW to be used by business intelligence analysts focused on wind energy generating capacity and utilization.

Facts, dimensions and attributes of interest: potential as well as actual energy generated, spatial location of turbines and wind farms, maintenance events, extreme weather events, investor participation, and audit trails.

Let’s say we need unique identifiers for map locations. Off hand, you might guess that a normal address makes for a perfect identifier. After all, with geocoding applications, we can easily translate an address to a place on the map. So it would seem like a perfect identifier. However, as I’m sure you have guessed by now, there are lots of use cases for which an address does not make a great identifier of a map location, at least from a database or data mart perspective, or even from an analytical perspective.

To protect customer privacy, organizations sometimes do not allow in their data marts elements that can be used to identify specific customers, elements such as addresses. This is particularly true if their customer base includes consumers (as opposed to businesses). I guess some employees are tempted to search through address records looking for names of famous people.

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Is Master Data Services a viable non-GIS tool for managing spatial data?

Normally, to manage spatial data, items like store locations or city boundaries, we'd use a standard tool like MapInfo Pro or ArcGIS.  Even if we hosted the spatial data in Microsoft SQL Server, we still might use MapInfo Pro or ArcGIS.

Problem is, such tools can be few and far between inside a large organizaiton. Plus, the learning curve for them can be quite steep. Further, suppose you have non-technical users within the organization that need to at least monitor spatial data resources in terms of data quality, status, and availability.

Despite its lack of spatial support, I think it's feasible to employee Microsoft's Master Data Services to help manage an organization's spatial assets. This article will explores how.

 

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Nearest-neighbor meets Levenshtein (and his sidekick Metaphone): Finding the best matching business/landmark record, given a poorly formed business/landmark name and approximate location.