Code for America Accelerator participant AmigoCloud believes it will be a game changer in facilitating how maps are used by city authorities and utility companies, and in agriculture, transport and logistics, energy management, and emergency response sectors, among others. Co-founders Ragi Yaser Burhum and Victor Chernetsky told ProgrammableWeb about the new possibilities they are opening up with their REST API.
“AmigoCloud is a cloud-based GIS (geographic information system) platform,” explains Burhum. “Our customers have vast amounts of geographic data (including aerial imagery, oil pipelines, land parcels, utility lines, levees, fire zones, real-time vehicle location and more).
“We enable them to leverage mobile devices (both Android and iOS) in ways that were not possible before. Our SaaS platform integrates directly with legacy enterprise GIS software and allows our clients to add mobile support in less than five minutes. Our API enables any developer to do manipulation, visualization and complex analysis through that geographic data with a simple REST class.”
Viability and Values
Because of its potential, AmigoCloud has been selected to participate in Code for America’s 2014 Accelerator program. In choosing AmigoCloud and others to participate, Code for America’s judging panel looked for three main criteria, says Accelerator manager Dharmishta Rood:
There are three factors we use when assessing the startups. The first is the viability of the business. Second, we look at the alignment with Code for America values—the degree to which each company facilitates government for the people, by the people that works in the 21st century. Finally, we consider the degree to which our program will be well-suited for the applicants.
AmigoCloud was easily able to demonstrate all three characteristics. Already, it has a number of early adopters, many in the city government space. These early adopters demonstrate both the viability of the services AmigoCloud is offering and the civic tech value set that it embraces, says Burhum:
Our early adopters are using AmigoCloud in very different ways. Some of them are using it as a mobile data collection tool to monitor environmental impact around projects like oil pipelines. Others are using it to carry a copy of their entire sewer network on their iPhone (so it useful to know where to dig). A transit authority is starting to use it to visualize their real-time vehicles alongside the rest of their GIS data. We even have a developer that uses the AmigoCloud API as a purely spatial ETL platform.
An API to Make Use of Location Open Data in Any Format
In addition to the industry potential, Burhum and Chernetsky are seeing individual developers show an interest in using the AmigoCloud API as a way to turn location and geography open data sets into reusable information.
One of the issues many developers have in making use of open data location information is having to wrangle GIS data into formats that can then be integrated into their applications or product solutions. AmigoCloud can help developers solve this pain point. Burhum explains:
A big problem with open data sets is the format they come in. Some organizations choose to share their data sets as CSVs, others as Excel files, and some even choose PDFs. Not all of these are easy to consume programmatically.
Even worse, if you sift through the geospatial datasets of an open data portal, you will find that many of the geospatial data sets come in very specific formats like Shapefiles. Most users, developers or not, do not want to deal with issues related to coordinate systems, projections, encoding of the strings. They just want:
- to show the data on a map;
- perhaps to analyze or manipulate the data; and
- to extract the results in a format that is familiar to them like KML or GeoJSON.
Through our APIs, you can import and export over 80 geospatial formats, do advanced queries (both traditional and geospatial) and plot them on a web map or mobile device.
Burhum and Chernetsky are excited by the possibilities that AmigoCloud is creating for city authorities and other industries that have a geographic and place-making focus: Heavy-machinery-based industries often face substantial costs to carry out any type of infrastructure project, with costs commencing from conception and planning all the way through to development and implementation and into maintenance and repair tasks. Even accessing geographic data in usable formats to make good decisions around infrastructure projects sees the meter ticking from the get-go:
Being able to carry the entire GIS data (location of man holes, drainage, fire hydrants) in their mobile device and be able to edit it—whether online or offline—it is something they were not able to do before. The process has always been filled with custom scripts and a complicated process to synchronize the data back and forth. As of today, this is the realm of $8,000-plus GPS devices that run Windows Mobile 5.
With AmigoCloud, we can take care of all that heavy lifting and allow clients to simply use a regular Android Tablet that they already own. Instead of expensive hardware, we use the phone's GPU to render the data on the device—the same hardware that is used by games. We believe this is a game changer, and the excitement of our early adopters constantly fuels us to keep pushing the limits.
AmigoCloud is an ESRI business partner, has a commitment to open source projects and contributes to the Open GIS ecosystem. Developers and businesses interested in partnering or using their API can contact AmigoCloud directly.
This article is part of a series looking at how APIs are being used by participants in the 2014 Code for America Accelerator program. Images were sourced from the AmigoCloud website.