Three Things You Can Do with Real-Time Dashboards

Real-time dashboards provide a way to absorb and make meaning from the torrent of real-time information that is used to drive so many decisions. Dashboards are your secret weapon for visualizing and putting meaning behind all of these real-time feeds.
Acquire Real-Time Data
A utility organization may want to visually represent the live status of its network with information that is captured by sensors in the field. While the sensors on the network are not physically moving, their status and the information they send changes very rapidly. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is being used in a wide variety of environments to keep track of items of interest. Warehouses and logistics companies use RFID to track and monitor inventory levels. Hospitals use it to track equipment to make sure it has gone through proper cleaning procedures before entering another patient’s room.

A wide range of real-time data is accessible today. Connectors exist for many common devices and sensors enabling easy integration into your GIS.
Perform Continuous Processing and Analysis
While it’s easy to connect a sensor to a feature and display it in real time, the next thing you might want to do is perform some additional processing or analysis on that data as you receive it. For instance, assume you are a member of an organization that is responsible for tracking and monitoring fishing vessels to ensure they are not fishing in a restricted zone. To accomplish this, you need an Automatic Identification System (AIS) feed that is updating a vessel feature with current locations. At the same time, you must continuously process, or filter, a vessel’s current location to detect when it enters a restricted zone, so that when it does, an alert appears on the operator’s dashboard. Having the ability to perform continuous processing and analysis on data as it is received allows you to detect such patterns of interest in real-time.

Communicate the Results
Another example of continuous analysis on a real-time stream of data is one in which parents want to be notified when their child has left school property. Continuously updating the child’s current location, the analysis detects when he or she leaves school property. At that moment, the parents are immediately notified by email and SMS text message.
Sending these kinds of updates and alerts to those who need it, where they need it, allows your key stakeholders to be notified in a way that is convenient for them.


This post is excerpted from The ArcGIS Book: 10 Big Ideas about Applying Geography to Your World. The twin goals of this book are to open your eyes to what is now possible with Web GIS, and then spur you into action by putting the technology and deep data resources in your hands. The book is available through and other booksellers, and is also available at for free.

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