The Big Board - teleconferencing over maps
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ga_bigboard - Teleconferencing Over Maps


The Big Board is a system for doing "Teleconferencing over maps." It is distributed as a standalone Django app meant to be used in conjunction with other Geoanalytics apps (*) to create a collaborative environment over which to discuss georeferenced data in context with the wider world. The Big Board is based on HTML5, Javascript, and Django and runs in-browser over HTTP without any extensions such as Flash, Java, or other plugins. It is mobile- ready, developed with JQueryMobile and OpenLayers for tablet devices and standards compliant browsers. It was originally developed as a decision-support tool for emergency managers to collaborate before and during a widespread emergency, such as a hurricane.

External requirements and installation

  • Django 1.3 or 1.4 with all standard apps enabled, including admin.
  • Django Tastypie 0.9.11 or better
  • Django Celery 2.5
  • OpenLayers 2.11 or better
  • JQuery 1.6 or better
  • JQueryMobile 1.1.0

The Big Board is distributed as a Django app. You must have sufficient privileges to install Django apps on your machine and a working Django installation. If you have that, simply run:

$ python install

and add the ga_bigboard application to the list of installed applications in :file:``. After that, add :module:`bigboard.urls` to your Django :file:`` to setup an endpoint for the Big Board in your web heirarchy.

Quickstart guide for administrators

Currently adding users, roles, and rooms is achieved through the Django Admin tool. This may change in the future as people other than site administrators may be assigned the responsibility of creating these but for now, this is the state of our art. All rooms and overlays must have at least one role assigned to them to be visible, and a role should have at least one user assigned to it (although it is possible to have blank roles).


Users are part of the main Django authentication system. Follow your system's instructions on creating users.


A role is nothing more than a name. In the future, roles will be able to be assigned by a rule engine based on a user's membership in other roles, but for now, they are directly assigned. Go to the admin tool and find "roles" under the heading "Ga_bigboard" and add at least one role, selecting at least one user to add to the role.

One note: right now, roles must be assigned by an administrator. There is a flag for "self-assignable" roles in the role portion of the admin tool. This is reserved for future use and may allow user's to claim certain roles for themselves.


Overlays are provided by standard webservices such as WMS or WFS. Services containing layers may be setup as part of your Geoanalytics installation, or separately by servers such as GeoServer or MapServer. These

Overlays are probably the most complicated of the items you must create for a room. This is because an overlay can be any constructable Openlayers.Layers.Vector or OpenLayers.Layers.WMS object. You must therefore fill in the section for "default creation options" with a Javascript object containing the options to be passed to the OpenLayers layer constructor. Follow the OpenLayers API documentation for more information.


Once you have a role, a user, and an overlay created, you can add a conference room. Of course one user for your conference isn't very interesting, but that's sort of beside the point. To add a conference room, it needs:

  • A name, which must be unique.
  • A basic description (can be blank).
  • A number of roles to which this room is visible.
  • A center point and base zoom level (these can be changed later by users from within the room).
  • A base layer. This can either be one of the Google layers, Open Streetmap, or an OGC Web Map Service (WMS) provided by your system administrator or a third party map provider. The one restriction on this is that the provider must provide the map in EPSG:3857 (Google Mercator) projection.