1. Getting started
The Interactive Visualisation Tool (InViTo) is an instrument conceived as a toolbox for visually supporting the analysis, the exploration, the visualisation and communication of both spatial and non-spatial data in order to facilitate policy and decision making. InViTo focuses on data sharing and visualisation of information as a vehicle for the social inclusion in the planning processes. InViTo produces maps, where the correlation between information and their localisation generates an essential instrument for the knowledge of urban dynamics and resilience in answering to specific policies. A higher knowledge enhances the decision-making process, providing opportunities for better choices. For this reason, it can be classified within the category of spatial Decision Support System (sDSS) as a Web-GIS tool.
In particular, InViTo does not provide spatial solutions, but it aims at facilitating the analysis, exploration, visualisation and communication of data in order to improve the communication between actors coming from various backgrounds and with different interests. Projects can be managed and set in an easy and accessible way by people also with a low expertise in GIS technologies. Meanwhile, users have a high level of possibilities for customising their project and relative visualisations. In addition, InViTo can be part of instrumental equipment for collaborative working sessions, such as meeting or workshops, thanks to its interactive and dynamic usability. Its quick responses and visual interface can improve the discussion among people, offering a shared basis for enhancing the debate.
As a toolbox, InViTo was developed as a set of instruments for dealing with different spatial issues, disciplines and case studies. InViTo allows the weighting of different maps, as in a simplified multi-criteria analysis, and the exporting of maps with filters and weights to different formats (*.csv; *.pdf; *.jpg), so that the outcomes can be re-used for many other purposes.
InViTo can be accessed on the base of individual involvement in projects. In particular, there are three different kind of users: the project contributors, who have a personal account for full access to the creation and editing of a project; the project advisors, who have a personal account for accessing to non-public project, download maps and leave comments; and, finally, the public users, who do not need an account but can only view and explore the data within public projects.
The structure of InViTo
This configuration implies that the structure of InViTo is based on two main sections: the project editor, and data explorer.
The project editor is designed for GIS technicians, planners and administrators of projects. Here the logged-in users can create new projects and manage existing ones deciding the information that need to be seen by exploring users. Moreover, in the back-end interface, the logged-in users can decide the filter modality choosing among checkbox, dropdown menu, range sliders or single choice range sliders. Finally, specific buttons provide possibilities for customising the visualisation or for enabling particular elements such as tables, analysis grids or background maps.
The data explorer is designed for final users. In fact it can be public and allows people visualizing, filtering and exploring data related to specific projects.
The structure of data explorer can be in turn divided into three subsections:
- the data filtering section;
- the map weighting section;
- the data visualization section.
The distinctive features of InViTo are therefore dynamicity and interactivity, which make it open to variously skilled users and suitable to be part of instrumental equipment for meetings and workshops. It can be used by a single person or collectively during discussion sessions. In this case, the displayed map can become the interface for sharing opinions and reasoning. Its quick responses and visual interface offers possibilities for improving the discussion among people, providing a shared basis for enhancing the debate.