Victoria gets Portal'ed

For years, I just assumed that, as a cash strapped municipality carrying much of the service load of the region (Victoria is the small (80K) urban centre of a metro area (330K) that comprises ten separate municipalities) my city would just never have enough money to splash out on a mapping webstacle, but today I was proven wrong.

I give you: VicMap

It’s got everything you expect from a “municipal map portal”. (For explanation of the scare quotes, please see parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of “why map portals don’t work”.)

It’s got the Silverlight requirement, and associated “loading” gadget.

It’s got the pop-up disclaimer dialogue.

And it’s got the menu of all available layers.

It’s also got a task-oriented attempt to match usage to users, a good attempt, marred somewhat with GIS terminology (“identify”, anyone?).

Most of the data is already on the city open data site except the aerial photography. The only positive I can see is that the site is built with local technology.

Anyhow, now that we have a “new shiny”, I hope the City follows up and keeps track of who uses it and how, and changes appropriately. I’ve long noted the popularity of the CRD online atlas (Capital Regional District), another “portal par excellance”, but even my limited sampling has turned up a 100% use case of “viewing the hi-res imagery and parcel outlines” – the rest of it could be thrown out, or hidden in a file drawer somewhere.

Keeping metrics and honestly evaluating the utility of the site are important next steps, and not being beholden to the all-in-one framework are important. The site is probably not being used for what you think it is, and your users might be better served not with one big slow map, but several small fast ones.

But you won’t know unless you keep track of:

With that information in hand, the one big map can be taken apart into pieces that address the actual needs of users as efficiently as possible.