Virtual Modeler implementation

Government of the Province of Córdoba



01 | Requirements


The Government of the Province of Córdoba needed a powerful GIS solution that can store large datasets of geographic information (around 70GB), with excellent integration capabilities (back-end and front-end) and that can easily interact with Dynamics CRM.


The main requirements for the GIS solution were:


  • The application needs to manage large datasets with spatial and relational information.
  • The solution must support Oracle Database with Spatial and Graph extension to store and process all the data.
  • It has to provide powerful back-end integration capabilities to centralize information from several sources such as: Cadastral spatial records, Tax information, Ownership database, etc.
  • This back-end integration must be Enterprise-level
  • The solution must interact with the organization’s ESB solution
  • It must support Active Directory authentication
  • The solution must be natively integrated with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and support the following scenarios:
    • Show information and elements on a map within the CRM, it must also provide a control to show the map integrated in the CRM’s forms
    • Select elements from the map and interact with the rest of the elements of the CRM’s form
    • Provide a high-level API to be called from javascript within the CRM’s form for search, filter, geolocate, find an address, show layers, execute queries, etc.


The proposed GIS solution must comply with all the goverment high-standards for security, performance, database and spatial data management policies.

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02 | Virtual Modeler Enterprise GIS


To meet all the requirements we implemented Virtual Modeler Enterprise GIS solution, this allowed us to integrate all datasources, whether spatial or not, and create a large spatial datawarehouse to support the processes of several government sectors. Virtual Modeler was implemented using Oracle Database (the product supports Oracle and SQL Server databases), which allows us to comply with government standards for databases and infraestructure.


The back-end integration was developed using VMSync, our product for database integration and synchronization. This product provides customized activities for SQL Server Integration Services, leveraging the Enterprise-level capabilities of SSIS and extending them to easily manage spatial databases and connect with Virtual Modeler databases. By using VMSync we were able to import spatial data from cadastral databases, import information from the Tax Authority, Property Records, etc., and  syncrhonize information between Virtual Modeler Enterprise GIS and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.


All GIS information must be consumed from Microsoft Dynamics CRM to support several processes that were automated with this platform. Virtual Modeler Enterprise GIS provided with a map control that can be included in custom CRM forms. This map shows the information stored in the GIS, related to the current CRM’s entity and allows the interaction between the CRM and the GIS. This means that the map responded to events generated in the CRM form and vice versa. This was possible by using Virtual Modeler’s UI integration APIs. These APIs can be called from javascript code to search and filter GIS information , manage layers, find an address, geolocate objects, execute spatials queries, etc.

03 | Designed for Integration and Flexibility


Virtual Modeler was designed to be integrated and extended. The solution can be connected with different datasources, such as:


  • AutoCAD Drawings, Shape files. Virtual Modeler Designer is an Addon for AutoCAD that allows to interact with Virtual Modeler Server from the AutoCAD UI, query information, create views, filter data, save data to the database, etc.
  • Relational and Spatial Databases. Virtual Modeler product’s family includes VMSync. For simple integration you can use the web interface to connect, query and map data from any .Net supported database to Virtual Modeler. To address more complex scenarios, VMSync has SQL Server Integration Services custom activities which allows you to import, transform and map data from any database supported by SSIS to Virtual Modeler.
  • Other datasources as Excel, CSV, SharePoint, SAP, etc. Because the VMSync’s support for SSIS, any datasource having a driver compatible with SSIS, .Net, OLEDB or ODBC can be imported and mapped to Virtual Modeler.


To leverage all the integration capabilities, Virtual Modeler has a dynamic and flexible data model, allowing you to create different entities, custom fields, custom views and access to that information from any platform (AutoCAD, web, mobile, etc.) in a secure way using role based authorization. The solution supports AD integrated (windows), mixed or native authentication. This ensures that everyone has the information needed anytime and everywhere in a secure environment.


For most GIS applications, layers are static arrangement of data that you can only show or hide from a map. In contrast, all Virtual Modeler information is flexible and dynamic, a layer, for instance, is an dynamic grouping of data meeting some criteria. This means that you can use the data model to create different views of the same base information; you can, for instance, create a map of a water supply network arranging the elements by age to analyze potential pipe breakage risk. To do this you only has to create a query or view selecting the elements and data you want to see and the fields containing the information to group by. You can later create a map arranging the pipes by diameter, material, or any other field dynamically using the same base information.


04 | Results

The implementation of Virtual Modeler allowed to the Córdoba’s Government to create a large spatial datawarehouse (+70GB of data) to support several business processes. These processes were implemented in a customized Dynamics CRM solution, and the Virtual Modeler integration with Dynamics CRM was crucial to allow non-technical users to interact easily with spatial information, without even leave the Dynamics CRM user interface. Dynamics CRM workflows, document management and collaboration with SharePoint and a big spatial datawarehouse was the key result of this project, a starting point for centralizing more and more information from other government sectors to enrich and augment data to improve productivity and decision making.


Before this, the users must access to several different applications, compile and analyze information manually and create reports, and most of the time the users were intimidated by the complexity of spatial information formats. Now, using the powerful data integration features of Virtual Modeler the application automatically centralized data from several sources and shows it within the CRM, providing with valuable information to the users in a coherent and easy way to make fast decisions and increase productivity.


The project was complex, not only because of technical challenges, but because several government sectors and contractors were involved and this project has dependencies with other projects and initiatives. Our professionals closely collaborated with the client and Microsoft’s team to ensure the quality throught the entire implementation process was correct, the solution architecture was optimal and best practices were used.


Some of the key results are:


  • Empowering users, now the users can quickly access to information centralized from several government sectors in a digital way.
  • Improve productivity reducing time and cost.
  • All the information is automatically updated.
  • Now the users can perform spatial analysis directly from the Dynamics CRM.
  • The solution allows the users to easily add new geographic elements such as, real estate properties, land plots, background information, legal support data, etc.
  • The security across all plataforms (Dynamics, SharePoint, GIS) is integrated and the users can work with the processes transversely without trouble.