Live River Data

Project Overview

With the enactment of the Water Act 2007, the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) was established as an independent expertise-based statutory agency.

For the first time in the Basin's history, one Basin-wide institution is responsible for planning the Basin's water resources, with all planning decisions made in the interest of the Basin as a whole.

OPC was asked to complete work on the prototype mapping site and develop the Live River Data website.  This site process live data updates every six hours, requiring archiving and date stamping functionality,

Why was OPC chosen?

OPC was chosen for this project based on our participation in the ICT Services Panel and our previous work with MDBA on the prototype mapping site.

Project goals, requirements and outcome

OPC’s goals in the project were to review how the data was being transported and consumed, and greatly improve performance of the website, that was suffering due to an extremely large DOM (Document Object Model) on the homepage.

In addition to this, the site had to be visually improved and made ready for a production deployment.

The major hurdle early in the process was improving the performance of the homepage.  Before OPC joined the project, the homepage was an Openlayers Map showing a custom map of the Murray Darling Basin with a View displaying around 70 river data locations.  Additionally, each of these locations would contain roughly six data points, each of these 420 data points had their HTML markup configured in the View in order to pass it to the UI on the homepage when a user requested it.

However this incurred an incredibly huge overhead on the homepage. Our solution to this problem was instead for the View to pass only the required raw data value, and a Javascript would construct the markup dynamically on the homepage on an as needed basis.

While this increased computing time very slightly, we were able to cut down the number of characters being passed to the browser by a massive 90%. This lowered the homepage load time by a significant margin.

In addition to the performance issues, we were also tasked with visually improving the website.
With the homepage of the site dominated by a large interactive Map, we were required to create bespoke custom map tiles in order to highlight the Murray Darling Basin area.

For this, we collaborated with the MDBA’s own Geospatial Information Specialist and obtained a number of ‘Shape Files’, which are a common definition file for geographical data. These Shape Files were loaded into a free software called ‘Tile Mill’.  In collaboration with the business area and the MDBA’s graphic designer we were able to customise most aspects of the data, such as river width and colour, town names, state and territory boundaries and more.

This allowed us to create a custom and unique map specifically for the MDBA.

Additional re-development tasks have been undertaken since launch, including a new simplified theme, as well as displaying the data in different and varied formats.  

Support and maintenance

OPC continues to provide support to MDBA via SupportPak hours and contracted project work.