The design of IMSMANG responds to the users community feedback as much as it incorporates lessons learnt throughout its development path.
IMSMANG covers the entire mine action information management cycle and allows for high flexibility both in the processes order and methods used for data collection, data validation, data verification, etc. The linear business processes, as defined in IMSMA Legacy Systems, are no longer binding. For example, it is possible to use IMSMANG to manage the ‘land release' concept. At the same time, other established methods, LIS or technical surveys for example, can be supported by IMSMANG free of rigidity in the order that these should be conducted.
Data entry is performed through electronic field reports that can be entirely customised. IMSMANG has a form designer view that allows the user to decide the type of data and the details that need to be collected. The data entry view is identical to the actual paper forms. More than 500 data elements are available “out of the box”. Nonetheless, these can easily be supplemented with unlimited Custom Defined Fields.
Data quality management and synchronisation are made possible through the ‘workbench’ and the ‘reconciliation’ process. Administrator rights corresponding to user roles and responsibilities can be entirely set up. The ‘workbench’ is a holding area where entered data entry field reports can be saved before becoming part of the dataset. The ‘reconciliation’ process is the data validation and verification tool of IMSMANG. Data contained in the dataset can also be unapproved and sent to the workbench for further actions. Actions that can be taken from the workbench, include
- previews on the map before the data is approved
- data monitoring to prevent any redundancy, inaccurate or missing linkages directly at time of approval of the data.
This customisable data validation and verification tool replaces the ‘synchronisation’ of the IMSMA Legacy Systems in a much more effective manner. For example data collected in a regional office can be reconciled in the national headquarters. As a result, the central authority is able to consolidate a consistent complete country dataset. This means that regional data collection is not necessarily locked to administrative boundaries – as was the case with IMSMA Legacy Systems.
Other customisation features cover languages and GIS. Most customisation features should be set during the initial set up of the systems. However several modifications and adaptations can also be completed after the set-up. Customisation can be configured locally and does not require IT expertise. Read more on Upgrading your System.
Reporting functions are also highly customisable. i-Report, which is a freely available report designer with a user-friendly interface similar to Crystal Reports, has been integrated into the System. Besides, IMSMANG supports data export into different formats, including comma separated values.
Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) is also possible to the system’s backend, which can be useful for users with very highly customised reporting requirements.
maXML (Extensible Markup Language for Mine Action) is the open source based format of IMSMANG field reports facilitating the electronic provision of information to those that do not have the System.
Third Party Tools and Standards
IMSMANG is built on professional open source relational database platforms. It uses a rich integration of JavaTM/J2EE, MySQL® database and several other open source tools such as JBoss®, Hibernate and i-Report. Open source technologies allow for a more dynamic compatibility with other complementary software available at no cost, like Open Office suite.
The geospatial information system (GIS) from ESRI’s ArcEngine 9.x contained in IMSMANG is primary useful for interactions with elements selected from the data pane or from a specific level of the gazetteer. Upon selection, elements from the data pane (e.g. minefields, accidents, MRE activities, clearance activities), provided that they have geographic coordinates, are displayed on the georeferenced map. Representation of these elements is according to the cartographic standardised symbols specific for humanitarian demining. These can also be customised by local users to represent custom symbology.
The GIS interface supports both data entry and retrieval operations for points, polygons or polylines. It also allows for more functionalities, such as measurement of distances, information on geographic coordinates and format, including military grades, basic layout and prints. Geographical files can be imported into cartography software tools if more mapping elaboration or large print formats are required.
Viewing Data in IMSMANG
IMSMANG provides a main navigation window with interrelated menus and options. The user is intuitively guided towards data entry or retrieval tasks. The main navigation window consists of three panes, visible at all times, which provide dynamic interactions among them
- the map pane
- the country structure pane – also referred to as the gazetteer
- the data pane
The map pane and the gazetteer constitute the geospatial information system (GIS). The data pane is in fact a relational database formed by different categories: hazards, hazard reductions, accidents, victims, etc., each of them symbolically represented by clear and consistent icons.
The use of IMSMANG is much easier to use than Legacy Systems for a number of actions, in particular for visualisation of the current situation
- the data pane immediately shows view of the most recently approved information
- details of each element can be accessed without complexity
- interactions between the data pane and the map are possible in both senses.
The Location Concept
Data is classified into the different categories of the data pane. At the same time, data belong to a specific level of the gazetteer through ‘locations’. A location is defined as an ‘area of interest’ or a ‘working site’, this is where closely related mine action activities are taking place. This organisation of the data, both thematic and geocentric, allows for interactions with the GIS and all relevant activities or elements that are related. For example, a location view might show a suspected area, victims and conducted mine risk education in a transited border area.