November 17, 2021 – We wish you, and ourselves, a successful and inspiring world GIS day, which is today, November 17. Join us as we explore the origins of GIS and the rich road of our GIS ySpatial.
In the year 1832, the French cartographer Charles Picquet created a map-based representation of cholera in Paris. Using color grading he categorized the 48 Paris districts by the occurrence of Cholera. 18 years later John Snow did the same with deaths caused by cholera in London. With the difference that he didn’t simply present pure data, but using the data on the map he also came to some conclusions*. However, it took nearly 150 years until GIS moved on from experiments, scattered uses, and later research laboratories into the real world.
GIS – Geographic Information System – is like a superstructure on traditional cartography. With one important similarity and two differences. The similarity is that both GIS and a cartographic map contain a base map, onto which further information is added. The differences are that a cartographic map has only a limited number of data and that GIS presents data to support specific conclusions, for which they use analysis and statistics. GIS is therefore a combination of cartography, database technology, and statistical analysis. It links information from various sources, combines them into a single database, and provides it in the form that the user needs.
The four milestones of world GIS
To simplify the development of GIS, it is possible to separate it into four main periods. The first begins in the 60’s, when the discipline began to emerge. The first usable GIS system was developed by the Canadian Ottawa with the goal to collect, preserve and analyze data about the use of Canadian soil. During the second decade (70’s until 80’s), GIS technologies were adopted by large national agencies and at the end of the 80’s the commercial market began to develop. The last phase is taking place until today and at its center is bringing GIS technology to the user.
The first GIS from the software laboratory of YMS
YMS developed the first generation of ySpatial for the then Transmission system and for the SPP. It was built on the software Microstation s see through maps and clickable basic/fundamental descriptive information in the database system dBASE4. Even then we were giving the system its own face – a special toolbar which simplified the user interface/experience. YMS GIS first generation contained the basic/fundamental descriptive information, static drawings and sets of drawings, and technological diagrams. It was installed on each computer separately and data for updates was delivered to users using carriers. For optimal functionality a special graphical stations, worth 400, 000 (then still SK) a piece, were used
The first generation of ySpatial was built on the software Microstation s see through maps and clickable basic/fundamental descriptive information in the database system dBASE4.
GIS as a specialized island
After modifying the face of GIS we cleaned up the insides of the system. Around the year 1998 we implemented the MGE (Modular GIS Environment) from Intergraph into ySpatial. It took care of the cleanness of data, above all the topographical placement. For transmission systems with networks above and below ground the correct marking of, for example, the intersection of various pipelines, is extremely important. We stored information about the components in the first Oracle database and changed their structure to be more centralized with simpler administration. Even with technology constantly improving, GIS was still a relatively closed off “specialized island” and it was used by a limited number of users.
More than images
The mindset that GIS is a specialized tool slowly began to change and in its place came the understanding that it can provide much more than just an effective way of showing data. During this time YMS developed ySpatial second generation – with new software and databases. We chose GeoMedia from Intergraph and we were the first in Slovakia to combine it with the GIS database Oracle Spatial. This pleased our clients because they worked wonderfully with a lot of diverse spatial and technical data. It still had to be installed separately on each computer, but nationwide optics already existed and computers were networked through a server (e.g. SPP). Around this time infrastructure and hardware ceased to limit the development of GIS. YMS simultaneously began to reap its first nationwide success with GIS.
Several times in a row we became the best business partners with Intergraph, implemented more and more interesting projects and received prestigious awards, for example for the quarry model for the Ladce Cement Plant.
Integration of technical and geospatial know-how
However, the thing that really separated YMS from other GIS innovators, was the focus on working with highly technical information and the ability to successfully integrate them into business GIS. We systemized our know-how and began to educate the professional public. In 1999 we organized the first national conference on GIS, which helped us to break through from primarily network industries into government. Today, YMS manages GIS for several state-owned enterprises and agencies, for example, State Veterinary and Food Administration (SVFA), Forests of the Slovak Republic (FSR) or Military Forests and Enterprises (MFE). We added ITIS conferences (Integrated Technical Information System) to the tradition of GIS conferences a year later and maintained it for the following 10 years.
The first age of the internet
A big breakthrough for understanding and using GIS was definitely achieved through the combination of the large availability of the internet, improving technologies, and the lowering of prices. At the turn of the millennium, YMS hopped on the first web train and developed the application WebGIS, thanks to which users could for the first time step into GIS through the internet with the help of a simple user interface. The second generation of YMS GIS was therefore stabilized with the technology GeoMedia, databases Oracle Spatial, and online work through WebGIS for several years.
Connecting through a digital archive
In the next step, we connected the stabilized GIS to the digital archive. YMS had already chosen the software Content Manager from the IBM workshop. During the time we connected the digital archive, for the majority of the clients we received, digitalized, organized, and processed so much spatial and technical information, it was clear that it was necessary to start using them meaningfully to improve their business.
Spatial analysis and professional applications
The newly widespread work with data gradually GIS from an isolated and specialized function into a platform position. YMS began using technical and spatial data saved in a digital archive and processed in GIS in spatial analyzes, from which we created our own separate professional applications step by step. YMS, therefore, began to orient not only on GIS, but also on the creation of custom applications for the specialized needs of our clients – using GIS and the data in it as an underlying platform.
The thing that really separated YMS from other GIS innovators, was the focus on working with highly technical information and the ability to successfully integrate them into business GIS.
Clever applications in life and in business
GIS became massively popular in the last few years thanks to corporations like Google or ESRI, and it had a significant impact on business systems. They introduced working with maps to users of the internet and GIS became a standard part of life. Therefore, the impact on business systems wasn’t far behind. Users of mainly cross-sectional applications, which GIS has become part of in the meantime, now demand the same comfort that conventional modern applications provide – speed, simplicity, and intuitiveness.
Management and users – in the same boat
YMS joined the technology expressly for the second time and in the year 2013 came up with a completely new GIS environment. YMS came out to meet not only users but in particular company management that understood the benefits that GIS provided as a business platform and requested its wider uses. In 2013, YMS implemented two extensive GIS updates. Clients figured out that access to a quality GIS for a wide range of users will simplify and speed up the work of the entire organization.
Clients figured out on their own that access to a quality GIS for a wide range of users will simplify and speed up the work of the entire organization.
Global/World award for functionality and intuitiveness for YMS
However, the accessibility of GIS matters only when the users can use the system without the need for training and special skills. The new generation of ySpatial fulfills this condition without restricting user satisfaction. As users themselves confirm, the system is so intuitive that it doesn’t require any schooling. In the year 2015, our GIS, ySpatial, received an award directly from ESRI, the creator of the most used and most sophisticated GIS platform in the world. Special Achievement in GIS Award made us incredibly happy and rewarded our work.
Clients repeatedly choose us
Our constant commitment to GIS quality is one of the many reasons why our clients repeatedly choose us as their long-term technological partner. We delivered the second generation of GIS to an overwhelming majority of our clients, thanks to which/with which we moved cooperation from one to two, and in some cases into three decades together.
Maps as a tool/aid in other systems
With the development of spatial thinking of IT users, in the following years the request to add maps into systems, where maps usually didn’t exist, increased. YMS created the so-called map plugin ySpatial, an intelligent map window that can be inserted into any other system. For example, we added the Slovak Land Fund into the system yAgenda, which means that a user can check the location of a property that he is currently working on without needing other maps.
Maps in the terrain even without internet
What about a situation where the user doesn’t have access to the internet or mobile data? Nowadays it doesn’t happen often, but it is an important gap, that team YMS filled with the offline version of the map portal. It works without the internet, during an outage, or unstable connection, so that it is always possible to work with important map data – in the office or in terrain. For example, offline GIS is used by LSR/FSR in areas without mobile data coverage.
Satellite data and ySpace – progress from space
We spent the year 2020 with another important innovation. In cooperation with the European space agency we created ySpace, an original Slovak software, that “inserts” satellite data straight into the client’s GIS systems. In the pilot project for FSR we are monitoring the growth of greenery during the growing season and evaluating the outbreaks of parasites. Thanks to a broad spectrum of data from satellites, ySpace can reveal literally any phenomenon on the Earth’s surface. As a “space translator”, it automatically processes the data provided based on the needs of the client and presents it clearly. That is why we were applying for the prestigious Innovative Act of the Year 2020 award, which we won!
With the new innovation to GIS, ySpace, we won the prestigious award, Innovative Act of the Year 2020 awarded by the Slovak Ministry of Economy.
Recap of the third generation of ySpatial 2030
The current ySpatial is a robust system full of essential functionality and yet it is still intuitive and user-friendly. It contains the above-mentioned advanced modules, from which even the most demanding client will choose: Map plugin for data accessibility into other product-, agenda- or managerial systems. Offline GIS, an environment for support when working offline. ySpace, connecting to the world of remote monitoring of Earth, including satellite data.
On top of that, in December 2021 we completed a large redesign, which will elevate working with GIS into a real experience, comparable to the greatest world applications. With professional designers, specializing in ergonomics, intuitiveness, and modern design, we have literally cut through the entire app design and we will introduce it to you soon. We believe that you will be as excited as we are.