The difficulty in searching and retrieving scanned maps in any Digital Asset Management tool arises from the fact that such assets are not based on point locations. While a photo can be found at a particular address, a map covers a geographical area rather than a single location per se. Sajara stores both the extent of the scanned map (a.k.a. asset) and its center point. As a user performs a search at an address or neighborhood, the new system uses the scanned maps’ extents to determine if they intersect with the search window. Sajara then places a visual marker for each scanned map’s center point, indicating to the user that assets are available in the search window. If an asset’s center point is not within the search window, it appears at the edge of the search window in order to suggest its peripheral location. This enables assets to be returned in search results even if only a portion of the scanned map intersects the search window.
The digital maps in Sajara are fully searchable using the same criteria available for other assets — address, keyword, time, topic, neighborhood, and map navigation. For increased efficiency and ease-of-use, each search returns both point-based results such as photographs, videos or documents and map results on separate tabs.
The enhanced user experience in the new version of Sajara is also made possible through the use of OpenLayers and Ext JS. OpenLayers is an open source software toolkit that enables ‘slippy maps’ to be embedded in any web application and allows communication with most standards-complaint web map services such as ESRI’s ArcIMS, ArcGIS Server, and GeoServer, as well as other sources such as GoogleMaps, YahooMaps, and Microsoft Virtual Earth. A second open source framework, Ext JS, offers customizable website pieces known as widgets that allow for greater ease in website design. The result for users is a more streamlined system with robust search capabilities, and potential for a variety of future functions.
“Sajara is evolving every single month. Users are our best focus group. Thanks to their ongoing feedback we have been able to continuously improve the software, implement new features, and create stronger search capabilities. The strength of Avencia’s business model is that we both build custom software and create targeted solutions like Sajara, so our clients are constantly generating new ideas that can be incorporated into our software” – Rachel Cheetham-Richard, Vice President, Avencia.
Sajara is ideal for organizations, businesses, and agencies maintaining extensive asset collections that need to be searched geographically by the public or staff members located anywhere in the world. Such organizations include: archives, museums, heritage tourism organizations, historical societies, municipalities, real estate companies, environmental agencies, and the restaurant/ tourism industry.
The system can be fully customized and skinned to reflect the brand of each organization. One Sajara implementation is at the Philadelphia Department of Records (DoR) PhillyHistory.org (www.phillyhistory.org), which has enabled the public to access tens of thousands of historic photos that had been essentially inaccessible and unsearchable for decades. Today, PhillyHistory.org houses more than 75,000 of the estimated 2 million photos at the Philadelphia City Archives, and, with this latest release, now includes more than 5,000 historical maps.