The term MapTable refers to both hardware and software that function as a design and decision-support tool. The MapTable hardware consists of a large, potable touch-screen design table that can be used as an instrument in spatial planning processes. MapTable software is an umbrella term for software that is suitable for use together with a digital design table. MapTables can be used for interactive design processes with stakeholders, and can assist in visualising potential problems and solutions. This tool page focuses on explaining the MapTable concept and software, including spatial databases and models that can predict impacts of designs of construction works for these projects.
The purpose of MapTable is to help identify and quickly evaluate design alternatives in an interactive setting, for instance during a meeting or workshop. The concept was designed for an interactive setting, where multiple stakeholders with different backgrounds jointly brainstorm to come up with alternative solutions and out-of-the-box ideas. In such a setting, quick evaluation of alternatives can support the interactive design process and decision-making on an integrated solution. During a meeting or workshop all participants are encouraged to take part in the design process to achieve the best possible alternative. It serves as a useful communication tool for involving stakeholders.
The MapTable concept is applicable in a wide range of projects. The concept, as it was developed, aims at projects related to hydrodynamics, morphology and ecology and their interrelations. An interactive tool developed for the MapTable concept can visualise geographic changes in, for example, a coastal zone, an estuary or a river bed. Within a very short time (a few minutes at most), a first estimate of the effects on various design aspects is delivered. New insights or ideas can thus be quickly evaluated and results presented on the spot. The interactive tool is based on simple but robust models that allow for quick evaluation of different design alternatives. Making use of simple models is both an advantage (quick, interactive) and a drawback (less accurate). Results of a session are preferably verified with more detailed models and further analysis before final decisions are made.
To apply the MapTable concept one requires three basic inputs:
Building with Nature interest
Within a Building with Nature development it is always a challenge to bring different parties and knowledge fields together, to develop new ideas in cooperation with multiple stakeholders with various backgrounds and to synthesise group ideas. The BwN approach aims to come up with eco-friendly and eco-dynamic developments and designs. Stakeholders are invited to become part of the design process, where visualisations can assist to clarify the BwN concepts, stimulate communication and gain attention from additional stakeholders as well as the broader public.
The MapTable concept can in principle be applied in all project phases:
However, a specific tool can be designed for a specific project phase and might therefore not be directly applicable in a different phase.
Various skills and background knowledge are required depending on the chosen setting and purpose. For the MapTable concept a Graphical User Interface (GUI) -layer was developed to guide the user through the tool. The GUI-layer enables the user to change input parameters for each tool and model so that various design alternatives can be evaluated. For a good interpretation of the results, the user should have basic knowledge of the different fields called upon in the tool. To setup a new model application within an existing tool for a different geographical location, an experienced specialist is needed. In case the tool is used in a workshop or during a stakeholder meeting, a facilitator is required with basic skills in hydrodynamics and morphology to translate and interpret results for the group.
Experience with the tool applications has shown several important aspects to be considered when 1) using a tool application i.e. in a workshop setting and 2) developing a new tool application. In this section a brief overview is given of a) the required skills and capacities and b) of the process steps when using or developing a tool application.
This page is primarily written for users of MapTable tool applications. Basic directions are provided to use a tool application as a means for communication in an interactive design session.
To run an interactive design session you need:
Using a tool application in a workshop setting or developing a new tool application, requires basic skills and capacities of the user or user group. The requirements depend largely on the preferred level of adaptation of the tool application. A case can be developed based on:
Important note. Cases and tool applications can be developed to address a specific problem for a specific geographical area. Prior to a workshop, these tool applications have to be modified or developed. Modification of a tool application or the development of a new tool application, including adequate testing, might take a significant amount of time.
Requirements are listed below. Listed requirements for level 1 case development are also required for levels 2 and 3, and requirements for level 2 are also required for level 3 case development.
Table 1. Required skills and capacity
Table 2. Technical requirements
• for some model packages a license might be required
Phased plan process
Essential before application
To start the process one shall define the design challenge as clear as possible, and the goal shall be set with a clear ambition. Then it can be determined which tool can be used to help solve the facing challenges.
Existing tool application, existing geographical location.
The following approach is followed after the tool is developed and applicable for the geographical area of interest and is used as a means for communication in an interactive workshop setting with the various stakeholders. The presented steps are followed in the interactive workshop setting.
Existing tool application, different geographical location.
When the project can be studied by using an existing tool, but the geographical location of your project has not been modelled, the tool has to be adapted. Basically, this will mean that the spatial data obtained from other sources (e.g. models) needs to be developed for this model. These steps you shall be followed prior to a workshop can be given. One shall be aware that these steps might consume a significant amount of time.
New tool application.
In case no existing tool applications is suitable for application on the case studied, a new tool application can be developed following the MapTable concept, in such a way that it is still compatible with the general MapTable concept.
To develop a new tool application, the developer needs to have experience with the programming tools as listed above. For the MapTable concept a flexible interface (a GUI) was designed such that in principle any other tool can be plugged in. To develop your own tool you can follow the following steps:
Suggestions for further reading about MapTable software: