Contra Costa Economic Development website integrates spatially-aware database and MS Virtual Earth

Contra Costa Economic Development website integrates spatially-aware database and MS Virtual Earth

Challenge

To help increase economic development, Contra Costa County Community Development Department wanted a website to help real estate professionals and business owners search for properties available for development or new business locations throughout the County. The “GIS Site Locator” website would provide comprehensive, property-specific information to assist in business siting decisions.

Solution

Farallon developed the GIS Site Locator using Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, a publicly available and free API, for the overall base mapping platform. This approach maximized the speed and ease-of-use of the website and simultaneously minimized the time and expense associated with developing the site. The application integrates the County’s GIS data and broker information from a geospatially enabled database built using Oracle’s Express Edition, a free version of Oracle’s enterprise scale 10g database. Farallon’s approach dynamically queries geodata from the Oracle database. Point features are mapped to Virtual Earth using a GeoRSS feed, while linear and polygonal features are mapped using the OGC’s WMS specification. To enhance the user experience, the site uses the AJAX application coding technique and modern “web 2.0” interface elements.

The application is a fast, simple, and easy-to-use website for real estate brokers and companies searching for commercial properties. It allows users to enter parameters such as price range and square footage required then quickly displays properties that meet the users’ parameters on the map. Selected properties can be clicked on to display a chart with additional information, including property photographs, driving directions and current traffic conditions. Noteworthy properties can be saved in a “favorites” list for future use or to be shared via email. Farallon incorporated RSS feeds to automatically keep users updated as new properties that meet their parameters become available by sending descriptions of these properties to the user’s email, cell phone or other choice platform.

Farallon developed a library of custom web services to integrate the County’s GIS data with MS Virtual Earth. Combined with Oracle Express Edition, this provided the required mapping, GIS-related analysis, and broker data submission functionality needed by the County. A major benefit of this approach was the cost effectiveness, flexibility, interoperability, and opportunity for code re-use inherent in a standards-based, web services architecture. Moreover, a web services-based GIS web mapping application will better support the County’s ability to incorporate maps in other County business processes. The websites architecture, along with the Microsoft .NET web application development framework, will allow easy use of third-party services such as ESRI’s demographic, economic, and business reports web services without having to purchase, manage, and analyze specialized market data. The simple and clean graphic user interface of MS Virtual Earth provides easy-to-understand and context-appropriate tools.

Screenshots & Videos

Selected properties can be clicked on to display a chart with additional information, including property photographs, driving directions and current traffic conditions.

Selected properties can be clicked on to display a chart with additional information, including property photographs, driving directions and current traffic conditions.

"GIS Site Locator" website provides comprehensive, property-specific information to assist in business siting decisions. Users enter parameters such as price range and square footage to quickly find and display properties on a map along with photos and driving directions.

“GIS Site Locator” website provides comprehensive, property-specific information to assist in business siting decisions. Users enter parameters such as price range and square footage to quickly find and display properties on a map along with photos and driving directions.