What we learned at World Bank Land and Poverty conference?

How to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls? How to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable? How to take urgent action to combat climate and its impacts? Solutions for these United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (UN SDSs) were presented and discussed at the World Bank Land and Poverty Conference from the 20th to 24th of March in Washington DC.

Land Administration & Sustainable Development Goals

The main focus on presentations was on land administration and how to link land management and land rights to enhance urban and rural development, gender equity, disaster resilience and mitigation of climate change. In many countries citizens lack rights to their land because ownership to a land parcel has not been officially registered and mapped. Especially women’s possibilities to survive in poverty and take care of their children are bad in countries where women have no rights to own and inherit land. Word Bank and developed countries support developing countries in land governance and provide funding for surveying and mapping projects and development of land information systems. Overall, modern geospatial technologies and geospatial data play key roles in reaching the SDGs.

World Bank Land and Poverty Urbanisation presentation

Several presentations discussed how National Spatial Data Infrastructures (NSDI) can support the sustainable development in developing countries. NSDIs provide essential geospatial information for planning and decision making to address social, environmental and economic issues. However, land-related information that NSDIs provide are not utilized as much as should. Therefore, World Bank and FAO are working together in order to create a diagnostic tool that includes relevant indicators for the maturity assessment of an NSDI. The maturity assessment shows the strengths and areas that should be further developed. Based on the assessment investments could be targeted on areas that best enhance the use of land-related information. As the topic of the conference “Towards an Evidence-Based Approach” points out World Bank is moving towards outcome-based financial support.

World Bank and what Finland can offer?

The World Bank offered a great place for the conference and possibility to meet and discuss with people from 100 countries around the world.  Spatineo together with other actors of Team Finland: FinPro, Tekes, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, National Land Survey of Finland and nine other private companies presented innovative, state-of-the-art and easy-to-use solutions to deliver relevant information for land and urbanization. Quality of digital services, 3D city modelling and virtual reality, digitalization of built environment processes, mapping of biomass resources, and citizens’ empowerment and how their can participate in decision making interested conference participants and led to many successful business negotiations already during the conference.

Spatineo presenting at Team Finland booth

-Jaana Mäkelä

KPIs reveal the impact of spatial web services

You can also download this blogpost as a PDF from this link!

Every time you open the journey planner to check the bus route home or the weather app to see how the weather tomorrow looks like, you utilize spatial data. Spatial data is a name for the data that is related to location – which is 80% of all the data in the world.  Spatial data is increasingly used in all the sectors of the society, varying from smart transportation to environmental protection and citizen services. Spatial data used in applications is delivered more and more by using spatial web services, such as Web Map Service and Web Feature Service.

With human attention span of a few seconds, we expect to access information we need immediately. Even a small delay in the services we use, let alone a service disruption, gets us out of our minds.  The modern word of millions of applications supports our impatience: we have the power to choose and there is always another, better and faster service we can switch to. This sets pressure to spatial web service providers: how to provide my users with a service level they are satisfied with? Continuously increasing competition and short resources bring an additional challenge. Organizations must make sure that they focus their resources on the areas that provide the biggest benefits to their target audience with the lowest cost.

To tackle the challenges caused by demanding users, tight competition and short resources, organizations need Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). KPIs are used to help managers to understand whether the business is successful and going towards the strategic and operative goals. In many areas of business, KPIs are a commonly recognized best practice, whereas on the field of spatial data delivery it’s a relatively new thing.

We at Spatineo have defined KPIs for spatial web services. The indicators have been selected based on the insights gained from dozens of spatial web service providers we have cooperated with for several years. Our KPIs aim to answer to the following questions:

  1. 1. What’s the value the spatial web service provides to the users?
  2. 2. What’s the value the spatial web service provides to the service provider and society?
  3. 3. What are the factors hindering the success of the spatial web service?

Our recommended KPIs fall into two main categories: metrics related to quality of service and metrics related to service use (Table 1).

Table 1. KPIs for spatial web services

* indicator for user impact

** indicator for organizational and societal impact

*** indicator describing a success barrier

The indicators presented above are rather challenging to measure and thus we usually need an analytics software, such as Spatineo Monitor (Figure 1), to collect the data for the indicators reliably, efficiently and continuously.

Spatineo Monitor

Figure 1. Spatineo Monitor is a service-level monitoring and usage analytics tool for spatial web services

By using Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) and National Land Survey of Finland (NLS) as case examples, we demonstrate real-life use cases of the key performance indicators for spatial web services. Both the cases describe the impact of spatial web services for the users, service provider and society, as well as the barriers preventing the services to succeed.


Case SYKE – Impact of Open Data & Service Performance

The Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) published all its environmental data for open use in 2008. Since then, the use of SYKE’s open data has increased remarkably every year. For example, in 2016, when comparing August to July, the number of users of spatial web services increased by more than 50% while the number of requests increased by 32%, demonstrating the power of open data (Figure 2). On a yearly level, this means 62% increase in the number of users compared to the corresponding time phase a year before. Increased external use of environmental data does not just increase the environmental awareness and utilization rate of the data but also creates new services and business opportunities.

Figure 2. The use of SYKE’s environmental data services peaked after they opened the data for public

In summer 2016, the online map showing the water quality in Finnish lakes and rivers, provided by SYKE, rose to popularity after the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE featured it on its website (Figure 3). Up to 85 000 visitors per day wanted to see whether the lake by their summerhouse is suitable for swimming. While this was a positive use case of open data, the unexpected popularity peak was something the application wasn’t prepared for.

SYKE water quality news

Figure 3. The map showing the water quality in Finnish lakes and rivers rose to popularity after being featured in online media

The peak in user amounts caused major slow-downs and interruptions in the service.  Due to this, 30 000 requests from users did not get any data from the service (Figure 4). Since multiple services were running on the same server, the overload of a single service had an impact on the SYKE’s other external services as well. For example, the response time of the Area Management and Limitations service increased by more than 900% while the number of users went down by almost 70% (Figure 5). Very soon after noticing the issue from a customer feedback in the day of the peaking, SYKE increased the server capacity and got everything running normally again.

Figure 4. 30 000 service requests were hindered by service slow-downs and interruptions

Figure 5. An overload of the water map service affected negatively also the quality of the other services running on the same server

The user impact of lacking service performance demonstrates well the importance of continuous monitoring. Keeping track of usage and service level indicators is imperative to identify changes in user amounts and service performance early enough. Thus the service capacity can be increased to meet the user requirements before any harm has occurred or customer reclamations received. Another useful practice is to test the performance of the services before the launch to ensure adequate capacity from the very beginning.

To summarize, in this case example, we introduced various KPIs to demonstrate the impact of spatial web services. The Requests hindered by service interruptions and user impact of service speed improvement indicators described the user impact. Whereas the number of users, number of requests and usage compared to previous years meters were used to show the impact for the service provider and society. Finally, requests hindered by service interruptions and services with the biggest speed changes demonstrated the impact of the factors hindering the success of the services.


National Land Survey of Finland – Impact of Service Popularity & Speed

In December 2016, topographic map, property division and orthophotos were the most used data layers of the spatial web services of the National Land Survey of Finland (NLS) (Figure 6). Identifying the popularity of the services can be used to focus resources, marketing efforts and investments on the services and datasets that provide the most value. This can mean updating and developing the most popular services more often than the less used ones or promoting new services that haven’t found their way to the large audience yet.

Figure 6. Identifying most popular data sets, trending data sets and top origins for service requests can be used for optimizing resources, marketing efforts and investments

Trending datasets (Figure 6) describe the layers that are gaining popularity. This indicator can be used to evaluate the effect of a promotion campaign or to plan the future server capacity needs. Knowing where the users are coming (top origins for service requests) makes it possible to pinpoint sites that can be used as marketing platforms to introduce new services to an existing user base (Figure 6).

A service of a fast response time is not just a matter of user friendliness but also efficiency. When the users can complete their tasks without delays, time and money will be saved. In February 2016, the users of NLS’s spatial web services saved four months of working time in total, thanks to the improvement in service speed (Figure 7). Furthermore, 72% less service requests were hindered by service interruptions.

Quality of Service and network traffic

Figure 7. In February 2016, the users of the NLS’s spatial web services saved 4 months of working time due to the service speed improvement

To summarize, this case example introduced various KPIs to describe the impact of spatial web services. The user impact of service speed improvement indicator was used to demonstrate the user impact. Whereas most popular data sets, trending data sets and top origins for service requests showed the impact for the service provider and society. Finally, the requests hindered by service interruptions indicator was used to describe the impact of the factors hindering the success of the services.

To conclude, measuring is a key to success. This is because it’s the only way to gain fact-based information on your organization’s performance, as well as realize if you’re doing something wrong and fix it before any major harm will occur. A set of Key Performance Indicators is a useful tool for finding the right things to measure – the ones that really matter and are critical to your spatial data delivery business. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind when setting KPIs is to ensure that they’re relevant and measured objectively and continuously.

OGC to work on Quality of Spatial Data APIs

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Post by Ilkka Rinne, originally published in the OGC Blog on 7th Feb 2017 with a title “OGC invests in improving Quality of Service and Quality of Experience”

We live in a world stealthily powered by Web Services and APIs: nearly everything we do on our laptops and mobile devices uses background services to talk over the Internet. These services are especially important for applications providing access to small subsets of information, based on a user’s location, fed from large, remotely stored datasets. Any quality issues in the communication between the applications and their backend services quickly become critical, causing bad user experience for tens of thousands of people.

Systematic improvement of the Quality of Service (QoS) for Web Services, including factors like availability, capacity, and performance, requires using well-defined metrics in order to provide comparable QoS measurements. Defining these QoS indicators and metrics, as well as declaring the expected service levels for Spatial Data Services, have been identified as priority topics of the newly founded OGC Quality of Service and Experience Domain Working Group (QoSE DWG). OGC member activity leading into founding of the new DWG in late 2016 clearly shows that QoS and more user-oriented Quality of Experience (QoE) topics are currently of great interest within the OGC.

In addition to the QoS metrics, the initial list of tasks for the OGC QoSE Domain Working Group includes gathering and defining a list of the essential QoS and QoE terms, and collecting good community practices in evaluating and improving the user experience of OGC Web Services. As an open DWG, the group acts as a forum for discussion and sharing information in QoS and QoE related topics for OGC members. Regular online meetings will be held monthly, and the group intends to meet face-to-face in as many OGC Technical Committee meetings as possible.

Charter members of QoSE DWG include several active OGC members with critical business interests in QoSE. Tom Kralidis, Senior Systems Scientist from the Meteorological Service of Canada, Government of Canada, highlights the importance of QoSE for both the data providers and data users: “Health check monitoring of geospatial services provides value for more than just uptime, focusing on the specific functionality of a given service or API. The work of the QoSE DWG will be of value to both organizations wishing to communicate their quality of service levels as well as monitoring applications wishing to evaluate and measure service quality in an interoperable manner.”

In Europe, the EU INSPIRE Directive and e-Government development are key drivers for QoSE. Danny Vandenbroucke, Research Manager, KU Leuven (SADL): “With the development of a European wide Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) steered by the INSPIRE Directive, QoSE has been recognized as a critical factor in the successful integration and usage of INSPIRE web services in e-Government processes. KU Leuven has been involved in the assessment of SDIs throughout Europe since 2002 and the testing and validation of its components, including QoSE, are a very important part of these assessments.”

Natural Resources Canada, Government of Canada (NRCan) is eager to contribute to the QoSE DWG best practices based on their experience. Cindy Mitchell, Lead, Operational Policies and Standards, Federal Geospatial Platform Initiative: “Quality of Service and Experience is fundamental to operational Spatial Data Infrastructures by ensuring services originating from a wide variety of publishers are available, usable, and relevant to applications and their users. We lead several initiatives of interest to the QoSE DWG in OGC, including Spatial Data Infrastructure assessment methodologies and key performance indicators, automated web services harvesting approaches, Federal Geospatial Platform data and service quality assessments, standards validation, and international collaborative projects (Pan-Arctic DEM, WaterML) that ensure data interoperability via standards. NRCan is pleased to collaborate within the QoSE DWG to bring best practices for highly reliable and usable web services to the web.”

Sampo Savolainen, the Managing Director of Spatineo, is thrilled to see the growing OGC interest for QoS: “In Spatineo, our entire business model is based on leveraging standard interfaces for letting our customers measure the quality of Spatial Data Services they are providing and using, and helping them leverage spatial data on the web. OGC activities in this field will make it easier for our customers to provide and find high quality Spatial Data Services.”

Scott Simmons, the Executive Director of the OGC Standards Program, notes that “geospatial web services include some unique characteristics, especially considering that the visual nature of a map rendered to a browser does not necessarily reflect the method of service nor the user interaction with the data. We need metrics tailored to the use case of the service and fair comparisons that target the services, not the IT environment and internet bandwidth in which the services reside.”

Raising the customer awareness in QoSE issues, and harmonizing QoSE measurement where it makes sense, were primary reasons for us at Spatineo to join the OGC. I’m honoured to co-chair the group with Tom Kralidis, and looking forward to active discussion and contributions from the group members.

The next QoSE DWG face-to-face meeting will be held at the upcoming OGC TC in Delft, The Netherlands on Wednesday the 22nd of March 2017. For more up-to-date information, including the mailing lists, work programme and meeting minutes, see the QoSE DWG wiki.