Recently, the City of Nanaimo participated in Google’s Model Your Town competition. After a call for participation by the mayor and council, a number of community members attended a training session run by Nanaimo’s Development Services and Information Technology departments. Over the next two months, Nanaimo’s team worked hard and helped grow the number of buildings in Nanaimo’s 3D Warehouse collection from 30 to 128. You can see these in Google Earth when you turn on the 3D Buildings layer.
As a result of this great collaboration between city staff and residents, Nanaimo has gained an invaluable resource. Apart from the obvious benefit of showing downtown Nanaimo off to the world, this new level of completeness gives City staff an amazing resource to use for three-dimensional planning and analysis.
If you’re anything like me, you probably use the password reset function on websites more often than the login function. This is a huge problem, both for security and for user experience.
The City of Nanaimo recognized that as useful as the city’s web applications are, requiring citizens to remember yet another password is not reasonable. Early this year the city did an initial analysis of OpenID, and Jeff Jacob–one of my colleagues–took on the task of developing the infrastructure to support OpenID and one of the first applications to take advantage of it. You can read the everyman’s description of Nanaimo’s OpenID initiative along with links to the OpenID-enabled services.
While the majority of users probably have an OpenID account already, it would not be responsible to require citizens to sign up for an external login service. A mix of forms-based and OpenID login capabilities may have been easier, but it just made more sense for Jeff to implement a city-specific OpenID provider using the DotNetOpenID open source library. This allows Nanaimo’s application login class to be more streamlined while presenting a consistent user experience, but more importantly it allows the city to act as a provider for third party / COTS web applications as these start supporting OpenID. Eventually Nanaimo citizens will be able to log into all city services using a single ID of their choice.
It is gratifying to see that during the City’s implementation phase many other organisations, such as the US Federal Government, have been embracing OpenID. Allowing citizens to access services using their own credentials is a key part of Nanaimo’s longstanding policy of providing easy access to the information residents and businesses need to live and do business here.
If you work for a local government and are interested in sharing information and/or code, please get in touch with Nanaimo’s IT department!
P.S. As always, I am writing from a personal perspective. Opinions here are my own, and are not necessarily shared by my employer.
The City of Nanaimo is launching our new MapGuide Open Source / Fusion based map in beta. I’d love to see some feedback from testers, and to get help generating some real-world usage patterns. You can only do so much with canned load tests.
If you’ve got a few minutes to play with it, please join us here:
It’s in beta because of the issues that will likely be shaken out by more widespread use, and because we have not yet built out the layers and search functionality required to match our current MapGuide 6.5 ActiveX-based mapping portal CityMap. This will be completed before the end of the year.
P.S. This application was developed by DM Solutions Group. We’re running Fusion 1.1 with the latest test build (r4114) of MapGuide. We wouldn’t have been able to launch–even in beta–without some last minute fixes by Trevor Wekel of OTX Systems and Haris Kurtagic of SL King. From a personal perspective, these guys are both amazing to work with, moderately priced for the value they offer, and are great resources if you’re stuck with a problem in MapGuide core that you can’t fix on your own. As always, the opinions offered on this blog are my own, not necessarily those of my employer.
One of my co-workers, Jessica Maple, has just launched a cool new web application that allows people to view public art in the City of Nanaimo. This application combines traditional information (photograph, artist, description) with the power of geography and some neat technology from Microsoft in an innovative way.
One of the neat things about this is that if you’re running Google Earth 5, you can see the Microsoft Seadragon AJAX zoomable images inside the KML pop-up balloons. Jessica had to jump through some hoops to get this to work properly in multiple versions of Google Earth and in Google Maps but I think the result is worth it. For this, she borrowed heavily from some of the techniques used by Sean Askay of Google Earth Outreach in his Map The Fallen application.
Here are a couple examples of the art pieces included in the inventory:
Just a quick shout-out to Pauline Hackwood and the City of Nanaimo‘s planning department for their initiative in starting to model Nanaimo’s downtown in Sketchup Pro, and for making these models available to others in Google Earth via the 3D Warehouse.
The City of Nanaimo is now managing a 3D Warehouse Collection called Nanaimo Current Models, containing Pauline’s models and any other good models of Nanaimo the collection managers run across. If you’re interested in having your high-quality photorealistic geocoded model added to this collection, let the City know in the Nanaimo 3D Models Google Group.
These tools are a great way to convey planning information to the public. In the future, hopefully the City will also be able to publish historical models of buildings that have been replaced and conceptual models of new developments for public review.
P.S. Cheers to the Sketchup folks too; it didn’t take them very long at all to evaluate the initial set of models and push them into Google Earth.
P.P.S. Like all articles on this site, this represents my personal opinion and viewpoint, not that of my employer.