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SAP expands geospatial data offerings with Esri

HANA integration with geospatial data vendor Esri allows applications to have location-based data.

The three keys to successful real estate are location, location, and location. SAP is now offering features and partnerships that it says will make it easier to bring location into enterprise applications. The announcements were made at the user conference for Esri, a geospatial data company based in Redlands, Calif.

HANA Service Pack (SPS) 10, the recent upgrade of SAP's in-memory database, now includes spatial features and enhancements that support multidimensional geometries and on-the-fly coordinate transformations, according to the company. This leads to greater integration between HANA and a geographic information system (GIS), which usually operates in its own silo, said Ashish Sahu, SAP senior director of predictive, text and spatial analysis. The improved integration can enable enterprises to develop applications that use geospatial data in real time.

Sahu said the Lufthansa airline uses one such application to track global flight operations. "They are using HANA spatial features to build process and get instant insights of their thousands of flight operations every day," he said. Changes in airport, meteorological and fleet data are monitored in real time and can be used to reroute flight trajectories within seconds, he added.

"It's very important for them to get instant insights but also arm their flight dispatchers and pilots to be able to run what-if scenarios and give flight trajectory recommendations, but at the same time optimizing for crew and fuel costs," Sahu said. The system combines the spatial information with flight information, such as schedules and operational information, including fuel costs and meteorological data, and can perform analytics on the data to try to predict events.

SAP and Esri expand ties and other spatial enhancements

SAP also announced deeper integration with Esri's ArcGIS for Desktop mapmaking platform, which now provides ways for users to create, read, update or delete spatial data directly in HANA. This simplifies access and use of spatial data in HANA and provides powerful, transactional spatial data creation and editing capabilities to support real-time operational and analytic applications, according to SAP.

ArcGIS users have for the past two years been able to use HANA as a data source with read-only integration but can now do much more with HANA data, according to Matt Zenus, vice president of the SAP HANA platform solutions group.

"This really opens up the data in the SAP HANA world to the GIS analysts," Zenus said. "Essentially, this allows them to push spatial or even non-spatial processing into the HANA engine itself. Because HANA can store massive amounts of data, instead of having to pull all that back into the Esri server," which can take time and resources, he said, "all you need to do now is just fetch that result in HANA."

Zenus explained that the state of Indiana is combining Esri geospatial data with HANA, SAP Lumira data visualization software, and SAP Predictive Analytics software to develop traffic-safety and other applications aimed at improving citizen's lives.

SAP said other enhancements include allowing Business Suite to store geospatial data directly on HANA -- rather than a third-party database -- and integration of Esri feature layers and offline mapping capabilities to the SAP Work Manager mobile app, which allows field technicians to access maps and associated information without an Internet connection.

SAP seeks to transform urban experiences

SAP is expanding its initiative to help city governments provide better services and safer communities. The program, launched as SAP Urban Matters in 2012, will be called SAP Future Cities and includes several new applications and services, according to Paul Schindler, global SAP Future Cities program lead.

"That program has been quite successful, so this year we were looking at trying to give it an additional flavor and to try and cover different topics which are currently on top of our customers' minds," Schindler said.

Topics include managing the sharing economy, improving traffic congestion, addressing public safety and the effects of global climate change. The Future Cities initiative takes the form of a "value map," which is essentially a short overview of the applications, services and technologies available to cities, Schindler explained.

A number of cities have implemented innovated applications with Future Cities, Schindler said, including Barcelona, Spain; Bhopal, India; Boston; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Cape Town, South Africa; and Melbourne, Australia.

Buenos Aires is using Internet of Things technology to control flooding and manage city lights. Sensors in storm drains send geospatial data back to HANA, where it is analyzed in real time and can prompt messages sent via the SAP Mobile Platform if there is a danger of flooding. Sensors in lighting fixtures allow the city to control lighting according to the needs of the time and area and indicate when lights need replacing.

Future Cities deployment and consumption modes include on premises, public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid models, with flexible licensing agreements.

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