Explaining Socium, a Cloud Based GIS Data Validation Service

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Abbie Beckford, Customer Relations and Marketing Manager at Socium, shares insight about the new launch and what the benefits of this cloud based online data validation and management services are.  

Having confidence in spatial data is vital to organisations that rely on it for making business critical decisions and with increased demand for sharing data, the level of quality is becoming ever more important. However, whilst the need to ensure data quality is increasing, the tough economic times we are all facing is pushing organisations budgets down and cost cutting is becoming an all too familiar item on the agenda.

These are therefore interesting times in our industry and it is no longer just the larger organisations such as National Mapping and Charting Agencies or Central Government organisations, which have to meet high level data quality targets but instead it is a challenge for everyone. There is no doubt that there are already good quality tools in the market place to address data quality, but with a high cost of ownership and technical expertise required to use the software, data quality up until now has certainly not been open and available for everyone.

This is why we have launched Socium. A Software as a Service company that is revolutionising the industry by opening up the world of data quality to everyone by offering new, online data validation and management services in the cloud.


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We wanted to create something innovative in the industry that allowed users to maintain and protect the quality of their data without all the costly set up, purchasing and maintenance issues involved with traditional vendor solutions. We also needed to be able to offer this to all users irrespective of budget or technical ability.

As a wholly owned subsidiary of 1Spatial Holdings Plc. the team at Socium have a wealth of experience in working with organisations that experience issues of validating, maintaining and protecting the quality of their spatial data.  The proven technology powering Socium’s services is in fact 1Spatial’s rules engine, which is utilised by numerous National Mapping Agencies worldwide, most notably being Ordnance Survey Great Britain. What we at Socium are doing, is putting this proven technology into the cloud and making it available to everyone in an easy to use environment, regardless of geographical location, technical knowledge, infrastructure or budget.

The first service to be launched is called the Online Validation Service.

What is the Online Validation Service? It is an easy to use, zero cost of ownership, cloud based data certification service that allows you to independently validate your data against a set of quality conformance rules. This enables organisations to have real confidence in the data underpinning their business.

Who is it for? Any organisation that wants to ensure it is utilising and sharing data that is fit for purpose, quality assured and certified.

Why use it? The Service will enable you to have ‘Gold Standard’ data, meeting legislative or operational guidelines thus ensuring effective decision making and giving you confidence to share your data with others.

How does it work? The Service offers you a simple and easy way of validating your data against a set of standard or user-defined business rules. Any features that do not conform to the business rules are identified and provided to you ready to load into your existing applications for visualisation and correction.

Online Validation Service. The screen shows an example of data having been run through the service. A quantitative analysis is displayed against each rule to show numbers of non-conforming features.

Online Validation Service. The screen shows an example of data having been run through the service. A quantitative analysis is displayed against each rule to show numbers of non-conforming features.

Utilising the service is incredibly easy and follows four simple steps:

Step 1 – Upload data in shape or tab format to the service (additional formats can easily be added dependant on market demand).

Step 2 – Select the business rules to validate the data against. Three rule sets are available to choose from using the Freemium service:

  • Essential Geometric Checks: A set of rules to check the geometric integrity of point, line and polygon features.
  • Network Checks: A set of network rules to check the connectivity of line features within a network (e.g. road, utility).
  • Polygon Checks: A set of rules to check the formation of inner and outer rings in polygon features. 

We are very pleased to develop new rules free of charge. These can then be added to the system for you ready to be used to validate your data against.

Step 3 – Hit the validate button and receive a quantified analysis of the features that do not conform against the rules in a matter of seconds!

Step 4 – Download the results file directly into your local GIS application which will identify exactly where the errors are located. In the words of our customers “it finds the needles in the haystack” and in one case reduced a quality improvement programme from three months down to three minutes.

Validation Report loaded into local GIS. All non-conforming features in the data are identified with coloured arrows to pinpoint where the error is located. The rule that the feature has broken is also displayed next to the arrow.

Validation Report loaded into local GIS. All non-conforming features in the data are identified with coloured arrows to pinpoint where the error is located. The rule that the feature has broken is also displayed next to the arrow.

Benefits of the Online Validation Service

The Online Validation Service provides multiple benefits to organisations:

Quantifiable results – The Online Validation Service enables you to identify the specific number and location of non-conforming features that need to be addressed thus enabling you to quantify the results and plan your quality strategy effectively.

Time saving – Because the Online Validation Service utilises a powerful rules engine, the process of uploading, validating data and receiving the results, takes only a matter of seconds. Done manually this can take you months!

Easy to use – With the highly user-friendly interface the learning curve is almost non-existent, reducing cost and enabling you to get value from the service immediately.

No additional software purchases – All validation results can be viewed directly in your existing applications, meaning no additional software or training costs and you can commence your fix-up strategy immediately.

Zero cost option – As the Online Validation Service is a SaaS application, there are no large, upfront software or infrastructure costs and no cost of ownership. We take all the infrastructure headaches away from you. You simply login and use the service at your convenience, maximising your return on investment.

Freemium 

To enable organisations to understand the value that the Online Validation Service can provide them, Socium is introducing a freemium version of the service. This will enable any user to register for the service and complete steps 1 to 3 free of charge. This means users will be able to gain an independent, quantitative analysis of the quality of their data. This can then be used to plan data quality strategies or be utilised within a business case. Key to this is ‘independence’. Why would you want to validate data utilising the tool that has been used to create it in the first place?

Once the status of the data quality has been ascertained then the decision can be made as to whether the errors need addressing. If so, the error report can easily be downloaded and as Socium offer a Pay as You Use pricing model with 1 credit only costing £150, users can very inexpensively pinpoint exactly where the errors exist ready for correction.

For further information about Socium and the Online Validation Service, or to register to be able to use the service free of charge, please visit www.socium.co.uk.


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