2.5 Potential solutions

The most effective way of combining all of this spatial information is through the use of a GIS-style map or image. The complexity of the data from Sikyon makes a layered image necessary for serious investigation. Viewing different sets and combinations of data enables more intelligent use of the information gained. This type of functionality, coupled with attribute data for the various squares and tracts, is a valuable tool for the Sikyon Project. Much of the off-season work revolves around identifying patterns and areas of interest in the data with GIS and AutoCAD applications. The pottery people also use the square locations as an aid to their interpretation of the material by seeing the spatial relationships between the squares and tracts.

Ideally, using one application, all the pertinent layers of information can be included and manipulated by the members of the project according to their individual needs. For this to occur, the application must be flexible enough to accommodate the varying needs of the members. While everyone's research is directed at common aims and objectives, different types of information are exploited by different specialists. A single application which contains the entire data set yet is customisable is what is desired. GIS would be the natural choice for an application which can handle these types of requirements, since it can manage multiple layers of information as well as spatially referenced attribute data. The current GIS application used is ArcView 3.3 which serves the Sikyon projects needs sufficiently. Updating the data and shapefiles within ArcView is a relatively straightforward process that serves the project well, due to its constantly updating and growing data sets. However, multiple copies of the shapefiles and data exist during the currency of the project as they are compiled, and inevitably many different versions of the data are worked on. Usually one master copy of the data is created and used on one individual machine during the time at Sikyon. As the members disperse to their respective corners of the globe the number of versions grows in spite of their best efforts. As a shapefile is completed or data set finalised outside the confines of Sikyon, the files are emailed to the various members. As each user has their own methods of organisation, these files do not always make it into the appropriate directories or even into ArcView. It is nearly impossible to ensure that each member is looking at the same data, particularly with the less experienced computer users.

Rather than using separate copies of ArcView on multiple workstations around the world, one web-based GIS-style application was pursued. In addition to accommodating the dispersal of the members of the project, a web-based solution would also help correct the problem of multiple versions of the Sikyon data set circulating among the project members. By maintaining one single repository for the data that can be viewed online as well as downloaded, key requirements of the Sikyon project are met.

Any tool used by the Sikyon project needs to be flexible and customisable. The data set at Sikyon is continually growing and therefore requires a tool which is scalable and modifiable according to the evolving aims and objectives of the project. Any tool needs to be interoperable with other future tools and ensure that the data is accessible. Finally, the tool needs to be web-based to accommodate the geographic separation of the project members. If all of these objectives can be met, the Sikyon project will have an effective and useful tool for its current work and beyond.


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Last updated: Tue Mar 25 2008