Linking GIS and Document Management

Category: Blog

MapConnect 2.0 enhances GIS with document management software.

Wouldn’t it be convenient to have access to all of your organization’s GIS documents through one, spatially-organized application? Imagine utility companies accessing customer records not only by typing addresses into a filing system, but also by selecting properties on a map. Or what if construction companies could look up project records by the location of the project site? Thanks to DocStar’s new MapConnect 2.0, it is now easier than ever to integrate document management with ArcGIS maps and services.

[Editor’s note: MapConnect 2.0 is now fully compatible with ArcGIS Desktop version 10.]

When documents are scanned or imported into DocStar, the user has the option of running customizable templates that can both prompt for and automatically collect information about those documents. This metadata is then stored along with the documents where it makes future retrieval much easier. These customizable metadata fields associated with each document are also what make it possible to later link them to a location on a map. Creating a custom field called Geostatusthat is automatically populated with the letter “U” (standing for Unlinked) when a document is imported makes each document recognizable by MapLink, the MapConnect 2.0 interface that actually links them to your map file. Upon opening MapLink (shown below), all unlinked documents will appear in a queue displaying relevant information about each one. They can then be selected and linked to either a map feature or a general area defined by drawing a rectangle.

Once this is completed, new custom fields are created in the document’s metadata, giving it a new, spatial component. This new data will either be a GIS feature ID number or X,Y coordinate extents depending on the type of link that was executed.

You’re now ready to retrieve your location-based documents, a task also made easy by MapConnect 2.0. For those of you who are familiar with ArcGIS Desktop and use it on a regular basis, ESRI supports a MapConnect Toolbar Extension that allows you to search for documents by selecting features or defining areas within your MXD. The relevant documents then appear in a side bar next to your map. The same functionality is also available with web-based map applications, allowing organizations that do not regularly use ArcGIS Desktop to still store, display, and retrieve their documents in a spatial manner.

When retrieved, the documents associated with particular features or areas are organized and displayed by categories that are applied when the document is imported into DocStar. Common category names would include Reports, Invoices, Contracts, etc, but the possibilities are endless based on the specific needs of the user.

Now that you have selected the right feature, looked in the right category, and finally found that proposal that used to be lost in a random folder on a network drive somewhere, it’s time to actually open it up and look at it. This is accomplished using DocStar’s WebView application, which allows documents to be displayed in a web browser once a user logs in to the service. In addition to displaying the document in its entirety, Webview also allows many of the same functions as the fuller, desktop client version of DocStar such as sending a link to the document, or downloading and saving it on your local computer.

MapConnect 2.0 is an incredibly user-friendly way to incorporate geographic relationships into the storage and retrieval of documents. It also allows for document management to become an important part of GIS. With a steady increase in both geospatial technology and digital documents on the horizon, this relationship should prove to be a lasting one.

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