Lizard day workshop impressions

Tags: lizard, nelenschuurmans

This is an impression of three of the five live workshops on the annual Lizard day.

Ground and water information in Lizard - Tijhuis

The case: Schiphol, the main airport of the Netherlands. Since 1916 on the same location, which is quite unique for a big airport. In the beginning it was just an unpaved grass airfield. French pilots used to call it “Schiphol at the water” because it became a big mud swamp with rain.... Now it is a huge airport

The water near Schiphol is monitored a lot. For instance the amount of zinc in the water at the point where Schiphol’s water flows into the main water system. (Not that there’s any problem with Schiphol, it is demo data for the workshop :-) ).

Various map layers were combined for the fictional scenario, so that several questions could be answered:

  • The zinc level: yes, it is twice as high as the norm and it has been for two years.
  • The canal in question is within Schiphol’s area, so they have to do something about it.
  • The ground in the canal bottom is classified as polluted.
  • Hm, we need to investigate the bottom more. Click on the location and look at the information from Tijhuis’ “WIT” system. This information is available in Lizard through a special Lizard app that Tijhuis build themselves. (Note: for me, as one of the main Lizard programmers, it was nice to see how lizard looks and feels when someone else worked on it.)
  • The demo now switched to the actual WIT software, where some adjustments were made to the water bottom: instructions for dredging.
  • To make sure the canal is dredged quickly, the canal is selected on the map and, in a separate planning app, assigned to this year’s dredging work.

The nice thing about this workshop is that it shows that Lizard can be extended and customized. And that you can easily combine information.

Drinking water - Royal HaskoningDHV

The drinking water sector is normally quite self-contained. Up until they really need something from someone else or vice versa. Lizard can help make their information available then.

Drinking water data used be be quite simple: is this valve on or off? Not a lot of data. Nowadays pumps tell you how long they’ve been running and who did maintenance when. So the amount of data is going to balloon.

At the same time, the next 8 years, 30% of the employees will stop working as they’re 65: a big brain drain. So they have more data and less knowledge in the sector.

A good first test would be coordination of projects from various companies that want to dig in the ground. For coordination. They did such a try-out project with the city of Gouda. At the end of the demonstration, the map showed:

  • Digging projects from various companies.
  • The various drinking water pipes in the bottom.
  • The main dikes including their critical zones (where you’d rather not have drink water pipes).
  • Sewer pipes.
  • And more.

The advantage? You discover new information by seeing the existing information together in Lizard.

The future: much more integration behind the scenes. Much more models and calculations and monitoring. That way you can save a huge amount of money by repairing and replacing in a much more economic manner.

Lizard 5 - Nelen & Schuurmans

Lizard 5 is the new release, out this month. So next month we can start upgrading everybody.

A related question: “what is luxury?”. Luxury is hard to define. Something like “not something you need” or “something comfortable”. Some Scandinavian design looks very clean, but feels luxurious nonetheless.

In the back of our minds when designing Lizard 5 was something like the above. It should look clean. It should work good. A bit like google’s homepage: one search field. With a lot of power behind it. But it should also look beautiful so that it invites people to use it.

The look-and-feel is just the tip of the iceberg. 90% of the work happens behind the scene, but the visible 10% is real important.

Example: the rain forecast site at http://regenradar.lizard.net/ . A lot happens behind the scenes. 6 radar stations, combining them, filtering out dummy rain. But only if you see it, only then can you use it.

Back to lizard 5. The amount of visible user interface elements has gone down to make it simpler and cleaner. The apps, previously important, have been hidden a bit. There’s a search bar (currently you can only search for place names there, but you’ll later on be able to search all your data).

One of the possible background layers is the full 50x50cm height map of the Netherlands. That’s a lot of data, but you can view it in Lizard. You can even draw a line on the map and get a cross section in a graph. Neat!

Most of the maps react to your zoom level. The more zoomed in, the more information. A map with borders shows subborders if you zoom in enough. Nice!

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My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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