New GIS.Box tool: usable area.

We are constantly collaborating with our customers to optimise processes using GIS. The latest result of this collaboration is a new tool that will soon be coming to GIS.Box: usable area.


This is a tool that allows you to speed up the process of assessing a plot (or group of plots) for the construction of a photovoltaic farm. It involves quickly calculating the area suitable for development based on constraints (e.g. watercourse, power lines, lone trees). Simply select the plots, indicate which data you want to take into account when calculating the area, and click 'Calculate’. As shown in the GIF below:

The main benefit of using the Usable Area tool is that it saves time, as the plot analysis can be done in less than a minute by a person with very basic training. The process does not need to involve a person specialised in GIS who will count the buffers, do the plotting and calculation in a dedicated software.


A detailed description of the operation is provided in the documentation.


GIS.Box for QGIS users

The latest version of the GIS Support plug-in will be enhanced with features integrating the plug-in with GIS.Box – a tool to develop your GIS with a browser-accessible component.

See video: First steps in GIS.Box


QGIS is fantastic software for professionals who acquire, process data, and provide information and knowledge to an organisation (Situation 1 from the figure below). As the use of GIS in an organisation increases, issues arise that QGIS alone cannot handle. This is, first and foremost, a multi-person job. Every (well, maybe almost every) GIS professional wants their colleagues to be able to access the data they have prepared in a simple and convenient way.

This is when GIS specialists look for solutions. For starters:

  • using geopackages on a network drive
  • installing PostgreSQL + PostGIS and uploading QGIS projects there (Situation 2 in the picture below).

These are good ideas, but they have one drawback: it is very difficult to persuade non-GIS people to use QGIS. In order to view a map with a network and customers, a BOK employee, board member, or salesperson has to open a program with dozens of buttons, connect to a database, and be prepared for some problems with coordinate systems… This very rarely works well. People are simply scared. And that’s not surprising.

Naturally, ideas arise on how to prepare a browser-accessible solution for these users. And that’s when GIS professionals find:

OK, if a GIS professional has admin and programming knowledge, this will work. Unfortunately, in the short term, as the requirements for data maintenance and the complaints about speed will only increase.

Additionally, issues relating to the following may arise:

  1. object attachments: this has always been a GIS problem,
  2. permissions: we don’t want everyone to have access to everything in edit mode
  3. change history: who changed the contact for this client and when?
  4. and the biggest bane: local copies of files – it’s impossible to control users not making local copies and working on outdated data.

Sounds familiar?

How can GIS.Box help?

Quickly and very effectively. Technically, GIS.Box is an application installed on a server with access via a web browser. This is where the data, user accounts with their permissions are kept and where the easy-to-use user and administrator tools are located. This data can be accessed from QGIS via the Plug-in. Everything is easy to configure, and the layout is pleasing to the eye.

In summary, with GIS.Box we can get situation 3 from the figure below:

  1. Data and user accounts are in GIS.Box
  2. GIS professionals connect from QGIS to GIS.Box via a plug-in
  3. Other users connect via a browser
  4. They all work on the same data. They can edit in the browser and QGIS.
  5. The GIS.Box administrator manages permissions using tools in the Administration Panel

The transformation from a simple solution (Situation 1), to a GIS.Box-based solution (Situation 3) is shown in the video below.

Benefits of using GIS.Box:

  1. Scalability – giving GIS access to the next person in the organisation takes 2 hours and 1 minute. One minute to set up an account and two hours for basic training.
  2. Control over keeping the data up to date
  3. Access to data for a wide range of users via a web application
  4. Simplification of GIS: by using functionalities such as profile pictures or colour dictionaries, it is possible to create a very user-friendly tool
  5. Security: possibility to perform backups, history of changes, access rights to data. These are features that affect the security of the stored data.

You can test how it works right now. Using the plug-in you have in QGIS, you can connect to a demo version of GIS.Box and download data from there. Would you like to test it in your company? Feel free to contact us!

Fabian is looking for land to invest in RES

In the following story, any resemblance to real persons and events is coincidental 🙂

Discover more stories about Fabian, who solves problems using GIS.Box.

Fabian’s company – a real estate consultancy – has decided to participate in the energy transition. And to make money from it.

The energy transition is happening now. One of its effects that we see every day is the photovoltaic farms that are popping up like mushrooms after the rain. You can see them from the windows of trains, and cars. Of course, the construction of the farm itself and the production of green energy is the last part of the whole investment process, which consists of:

  1. finding a suitable site,
  2. signing an agreement with the owners,
  3. obtaining a number of permits (including connection conditions)
  4. the construction itself
  5. exploitation of the farm

The most important, and not mentioned, element of this process is of course the financial model of the whole undertaking, because the transition has to pay off. Every company has a different approach: some look for sites for large developments, others for smaller ones, but at the end of the day the financier’s Excel sheet must always be in the green.

Whether the financier’s spreadsheet is 'in the green’ and whether it ultimately gives the 'green light’ for investment depends on a plethora of factors, much of which depends on the situation on the ground, on the map. You won’t find information on the map about energy prices a decade out, or the price and delivery time of panels, but you will find plenty of data that will influence the profitability of investments. First and foremost:

  1. Can I build anything at all in a given location? (nature conservation areas, local plans)
  2. Where is the nearest point where I can 'plug in’ to the grid?
  3. What kind of land is it? What is its class (read: what will be the costs of de-landing?)?
  4. What will be the cost of building infrastructure (e.g. cables)?
  5. etc.


Good beginnings

The corporation’s board of directors decided that land scouting would be handled by a new unit, a start-up whose main purpose would be to search for land for investment (screening), reserve land, and obtain permits (permitting). The land, ready for the construction of the farm, was to be further sold to international investors, specialised in the exploitation of the farm.

The task seemed fairly straightforward:

  1. John became the CEO of the start-up: a financier from London, a partner in Fabian’s corporation. He was the one who was supposed to make sure that the financial plan (and result!) matched up. In addition, he had extensive experience in the financial and legal aspects of RES investments and had access to investors from the City of London.
  2. Magda and Karolina joined the Polish branch of the corporation and were tasked with organising teams (hiring young people who are not afraid of working in the field, with people with whom they will have to negotiate a lot).
  3. The teams were tasked with finding sites, establishing relations with owners, and signing contracts. Each team consisted of 10 people.

After the grand opening, the day-to-day began. The task actually seemed quite simple: „Go, search, deliver great sites!” Teams sat with their noses in their computers all the time, occasionally someone would go to the other end of Poland on a business trip, and lots of spreadsheets were created. Someone was constantly sending PDF files with formats of potential sites to someone. Operational management was entrusted to the team leaders. John would supervise the start-up in a meeting with Magda and Karolina once a month.


The presentation

After two quarters, the startup’s sponsor, i.e. the corporate board, upon meeting the teams from Central Europe, asked for a presentation, a report on the startup’s performance. The presentation was to be made by Karolina. Fabian was not particularly interested, but he was eventually in the room during the presentation.


It did not go well…


Karolina showed a map of Poland with some dots and potential locations. On the next slides, there were a lot of screenshots from with lines drawn in Corel, some tables, and some lists. It failed to give the impression of success. To make matters worse, the questions began:

  1. How many hectares of land were summarily 'signed off’ across the country?
  2. Someone said that the potential investment in Luboń was very close to the river and asked if it was not, by any chance, a floodplain.
  3. Someone else tried to enquire which plots of land had been analysed in the vicinity of the GPZ, which is supposed to be upgraded and there are opportunities for available capacity.
  4. When asked about land reserved by competitors, farms under construction, and the possibility of using land not for PV but for wind energy, Karolina did not know how to answer.

The board had been left with an impression of chaos. In addition, John, who knew the financial results, had no reason to be happy:

  1. Extremely high expenses on employees
  2. Extremely high expenses on cars, fuel, hotels, etc.

The result of six months’ work turned out to be a few Excel sheets and several hundred PDF files containing some data…


The audit

Fabian had already guessed halfway through the presentation what the source of the problems was. He knew how to help. After the presentation, he approached John and offered his help in changing the way the startup operates. He knew this was a place where GIS would bring great value.

To start with, he wanted to know the whole story. So he gathered as many people involved in the startup as possible for a meeting/workshop:

He asked them simple questions:

  1. How do you look for these plots of land?
  2. Based on what data?
  3. How do you archive the results of your work?
  4. What is the information flow like?

What he found out did not surprise him at all:

  • The team had a very different background (from builders to art historians)
  • The team did not have standardised tools. Some worked on, some were familiar with QGIS, and the data circulation was done almost exclusively by e-mail.
  • Power lines and main power points data were once bought from someone. In fact, nobody remembered when or from whom.
  • The teams were divided territorially. Everyone more or less knew what was going on in their municipality/district, but in case of employee turnover, all knowledge would disappear with them…
  • Spatial data was verified on, local geoportals, or other geoservices. Knowledge about the origin and quality of the data was almost non-existent.

In summary: nothing new. This is happening in many places. How to solve this issue?


The plan, or how to fix it?

First and foremost, Fabian did a workshop with Magda, Karolina, and John. The aim of the workshop was to plan the change.

  1. Together they defined the main objective of the project. The goal was to increase the land bank (land reserved with owners for future developments) and reduce the cost of acquiring land by half. From then on, each action had to pass a review to see if it was getting them closer to achieving their goal.
  2. The next step was a presentation of Fabian’s achievements so far (including the investment land base that Fabian had organised) and some pretty good public GIS systems. The aim of this presentation was to raise and equalise the level of knowledge among the management team on potential opportunities. Without increasing their knowledge of GIS, Magda, Karolina, and John would have found it difficult to implement GIS-based procedures. They promised themselves that they would do a similar workshop with the whole team.
  3. The next step was to gather ideas for the so-called information products, i.e. tools with which they could achieve their goal more easily. This is where Fabian helped the most:
    1. A common database on main power points, electricity infrastructure, forms of nature conservation, and other environmental constraints (floodplains, mining areas, etc.). All employees should have easy access to this data. This will save them the trouble of repeatedly searching for the same data
    2. An inventory tool for the analysed areas in order to accumulate knowledge of the work done.
    3. An online collaboration tool. The idea is to easily search for relevant sites, presenting them at meetings and during fieldwork.
  4. They then proceeded to explore the possibilities.

Fabian naturally suggested using GIS.Box, which he was familiar with and liked. He figured that all the necessary products could be created from a standard tool. But there were counter-proposals:

– How about using QGIS? – suggested Karolina. The suggestion wasn’t bad: it’s free software, and half the team uses it anyway… Fabian replied:

– QGIS is a good option. You mentioned the advantages, however, it has a lot of disadvantages: it’s professional software: people might be afraid to use it: too many icons: and they are afraid they will mess something up. Plus: we have a high turnover, and training takes time and can be expensive, and we would benefit from 3% of the possibilities QGIS offers.

– How about some CRM, then? – John suggested. We want to collect owner information anyway. Maybe we can adapt something that is on the market?

– We can’t do it without a map. That’s not the way to go…

The workshop ended late in the afternoon. After the presentation and workshop, they each had dozens of unread emails, so they said they would meet in two days. Fabian had a full day to think through the ideas and configure GIS.Box.


The solution, i.e. what did Fabian do?

1. The database

Fabian uploaded the following data into GIS.Box:

  1. Main Supply Points – a shp file that Karolina had bought for a few grand. It turned out that these were locations downloaded from OpenStreetMap with some valuable attributes added (date of last upgrade, date of planned upgrade, etc.)
  2. The location of the highest, high, medium, and low voltage lines. He downloaded this data partly from OpenStreetMap and partly from BDOT10K. He had nothing better… For the time being, it had to suffice.
  3. He uploaded a layer with districts and municipalities. Added some interesting attributes (link to the local geoportal, BIP, etc.) The attributes were blank, but he is going to encourage people from the startup to fill in the data. It will certainly be useful.
  4. He added a WMS with
    1. Plots of land from the National Land Registry Integration
    2. Underground infrastructure from the National Land Registry
    3. Plans from the National Integration of Local Development Plans
    4. Forms of nature protection from GDOŚ
    5. Orthophotomap from

Everyone was to have access to this data. Updating this data proved to be a major issue. At a later stage, it turned out to be a full-time job for one person. Łukasz, a man from Magda’s team, became the company’s data administrator and instead of searching for sites, he regularly searched for data on the operators’ websites and obtained information on planned upgrades and construction of power grids.


2. Plot inventory

This was a challenge! It turns out that looking for plots of land is not that simple. Depending on the investor’s business profile, it turned out that everyone is looking for something different:

  1. One wants huge plots of land (complexes of plots of around 100 ha), which can be quite far from the GPZ. With this scale of investment, bringing 25 km of cable is not a problem.
  2. Another wants smaller plots of land, near the transformers.
  3. The third takes everything as it comes, as long as there are only a few owners to deal with.
  4. The fourth one buys everything at random because he wants to build electrolysers and produce green hydrogen. They’re independent of the grid connection conditions, so the land can be anywhere.

This is where the new GIS.Box module – Site Finder – came in handy, along with tools such as Create New Object with Plot Geometry. Fabian prepared data sources with relevant vocabularies and devised procedures for the teams to:

  1. First search for sites with the search engine, then
  2. Analyse by criteria that cannot yet be automated (land classes, planning, ownership)
  3. If a plot of land was prospective, a complex had to be compiled from it and provided with additional attributes.
    This element was the most variable, and this is where procedures changed frequently. The process was refined as the knowledge and skills of the team increased.


3. The online collaboration tool

This is where it was the easiest, as basically nothing needed to be done. GIS.Box had everything. Monthly meetings on Teams with John were basically a virtual tour of the country to check on the progress of documentation acquisition and to solve current problems, estimate risks, and make decisions. Using an interactive map along with full information from the inventory and context from public data, there were no questions that could not be answered.


The implementation

Establishing procedures and configuring the System, however, is only part of the success. The key element is to make sure that everyone in the team understands how the procedures work and respects them. How did this happen in our start-up?

  1. Firstly, there was a training course on the basics of GIS (what is the difference between a vector and a WMS, and what is the point of these coordinate systems) with large elements of discussing spatial information infrastructure in Poland (i.e. what is the point of there being so many geoportals, some of which have data from other sources). This was a necessary step to make sure everyone was operating with the same concepts. The training was recorded and placed in the company’s knowledge base for recall from time to time and for onboarding new employees.
  2. This was followed by a presentation on GIS.Box as a tool for collaborative working. Here Fabian, who had the most technical knowledge, helped a little. At the training, everyone learned that they had access to a consistent database and a search engine. It was a very big relief for everyone that they no longer had to search for multiple sources at the same time.
  3. Next, the procedures for plot inventories were discussed and debated for the first time. The discussions were heated. Thanks to the knowledge from the training sessions, everyone knew that some of the data could be analysed automatically and some (those from the WMS) unfortunately not… It was agreed that in the initial period, the procedures would be reviewed once a month in order to come to an optimum.
  4. Then the most difficult stage took place, the „babysitting period”. Employees started to act, and every now, and then they reported problems. Some were satisfied, some were… less satisfied, but gradually everyone started to act on GIS.Box.
  5. The monthly review of procedures brought interesting conclusions, based on which attributes or dictionary values were slightly modified. It was a good time.


A positive ending, or another mid-year presentation

After the successful implementation, Fabian was rarely interested in the startup and RES. In fact, he was heroically solving other problems that his corporation was facing… All current issues were solved by Magda and Karolina together with the Team.

Very quickly it became apparent that GIS.Box had become the primary source of information and the GIS.Box tab was constantly open even with John showing specially prepared data at meetings with investors. He didn’t ask anyone to prepare presentations, printouts etc. He was well aware that the data was always up-to-date and correct.

GIS.Box – saving measurements to file

Another small but eagerly awaited improvement by certain users. I think we have reached our full potential 🙂

From now on, you can

  1. Draw in a measurement
  2. Edit its geometry
  3. Then save the measurement geometry to a file or assign it as a new object to an existing layer.

Can this functionality be developed further? If you have something in mind, please leave a comment.

Creating your own database of plots of land has never been easier. ULDK attribute mapping

In the June update of GIS.Box, another long-awaited feature has been added: ULDK attribute mapping.

In a nutshell: the idea is that from now on, parcels added with the „Create new parcel geometry object” tool will also assign attributes (e.g. ID, number, precinct, municipality, county, and province) in addition to geometry.

Details are explained in the video below:

Additional module: Parcel finder – beta version

A beta version of a new add-on module has been released on GIS.Box: Parcel Finder.

More information – as always in the GIS.Box documentation.

GIS.Box and ULDK (Land Parcel Location Service)

Does GIS.Box use ULDK?


Thanks to the existence of the Land Parcel Location Service, it is possible to create very useful services used by thousands of people (such as some of the tools from the GIS Support Plugin). And what does this look like in GIS.Box? One by one:

  1. Land Parcel Finder, which works like a classic search engine.
  2. A fantastic tool: Plot Report, which, when you click on a point, will not only indicate what kind of plot it is but will immediately tell you what objects from our database are within its range. I recommend giving it a try 🙂.
  3. And finally – the icing on the cake – the Create New Object with Parcel Geometry tool, which makes creating data based on evidential data extremely simple. One click and the parcel geometry object is ready.

The tools are constantly evolving, so the article will be out of date after a while 🙂.

New tool in GIS.Box: Profile photo

GIS.Box is developing rapidly. In addition to continuous optimisation and bug fixes, new functionalities are being added. In the latest versions of the System, it is now possible to set a 'profile photo’ for an object. It can be a photo from the National Park as in the attached screenshot, but more often it will be:

  1. Electrical cabinet diagram
  2. Luminaire specification
  3. A photograph of a nameplate
  4. Or one of the other hundreds of applications

available in full size, with one click on the object card.

New tool in GIS.Box: SQL-based selection

We strive to make GIS.Box a tool that is simple to implement. We are keen that the time to train a user to use the system freely should not exceed a few hours. This requires us to create intuitive tools (we are trying 🙂).

An extension „SQL Query” has been available for some time, which extends the object selection tools with the possibility to enter any SQL query (including all PostGIS functions). This makes it possible to select objects based on the spatial and attribute relationships of all the data that is in the System.

For more convenient handling, queries can be saved (added to favourites).

This makes it possible to query, for example, parcels of land that are in a buffer of, 2000m from the main supply point and expand the queries with further conditions.

The tool is intended rather for advanced users, who are more comfortable with spatial SQL than clicking out results manually.

Configurable Object Finder in GIS.Box

One of the basic functionalities needed in a good GIS System is the object search engine. GIS.Box is a tool thanks to which a GIS Specialist can easily share data and tools with colleagues without coding, so you can never have too many tools like a search engine… To:

  1. Quick Search in the Attribute Table
  2. Primary Filter
  3. Advanced Filter (both can be used as search engines)
  4. Address Finders
  5. Record Plot Search Engines

a new Object Finder has been added, which is configured by the Administrator based on the layers in the system. The search engine is available without having to open the Attribute Table and is really easy to use. Your colleagues will definitely like it because it is easy to use and configure.

Learn more about GIS.Box. Explore use cases

The Object Finder will be available on all instances during the next update. The decision to enable the tool and configure it will be up to the Administrator. If you have any questions, please contact the Customer Relationship Manager 🙂



GIS Support Sp. z o.o.
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tel. 570 979 682

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