What is a Dashboard?
Eyasco has been hard at work crafting a new feature on our grabdata.com website to provide an easier and faster way to view sensor data and alarms. Since our founding days in the early 2000's we have spent a lot of time trying to present data in ways that are easy to use, engaging and easy to understand. Many if not most companies that host web-based instrumentation data promote 'dashboards' as the first stop in viewing data. This probably started with the financial industry as the different graphical elements (charts, pie charts, bar charts) are convenient for providing at-a-glance views of key performance indicators (KPIs). The use of a good color scheme combined with a balanced layout of graphical elements also provides an eye-pleasing display that conveys sophistication and technical prowess. But does it tell you what you need to know? The answer to this question depends on who you are.
Whether a user has one sensor or a hundred, they are usually looking to answer one or more of the following questions:
What is the current value?
What is the trend over the last week or month?
Is it in an alarm state?
What do other related sensors say?
Is the system working?
What is the battery level?
Most of Eyasco's customers are usually interested in the magnitude of a sensor measurement and what that might mean for their application. When Eyasco employees look at sensor data we are more interested in whether the sensor and other related components are working properly and how it is trending, and we like to to start by seeing everything with the ability to drill into anything - with as few clicks as possible.
We have developed several dashboard designs for specific applications (see below), but these graphical intensive displays are highly evolved to highlight specific elements that are important to the environment or process being monitored. If designed well they can be very effective in communicating "key performance indicators" for agriculture, air quality, fire prediction, etc. But to be effective they must have a focus. They become less effective when not designed for a specific purpose and can actually distract a user from seeing trends or relationships that are not being highlighted.
Over time and with an ever-increasing number of systems to monitor, we found we needed to be able to "fly over" a lot of stations and sensors to see what was going on, and then land and drill into anything that looked like it needed more attention. Our new 'dashboard' has evolved to fulfill this need. It is definitely not as aesthetically pleasing as many, but it makes answering important questions easy and efficient.
Measurements are organized by Project, Station and Sensor and the expanding project tree filters what shows up in the display. The Project Tree entries are colored by alarm type for quick determination of those sensors that might need attention.
There are three tabs at the top of the form next to the project tree: Charts, Alarms and Thresholds.
Charts shows "sparkline" charts of the last 24 hours of measurements at any level.
Alarms shows a tabular view of any threshold exceeding measurements and allows a user to view and acknowledge them.
Thresholds displays a table of defined thresholds where a user can add new or edit existing alarm limits.
By default when a user clicks on an item in the Project tree they will see time series charts for all the sensors 'connected' to that level in just a few seconds. This provides a quick assessment of how things are working at the current moment - or the last time data was collected.
Mousing over the sparklines reveals the values, and thresholds for triggered alarms are displayed as horizontal lines.
Charts in the display can be filtered by measurement type by using buttons at the top of the plot window and plotted singularly or together on a larger interactive plot.
The QA/QC tool and the Data Library can be opened from the Sparkline window for additional processing or for viewing time series plots over any date range.
The Eyasco dashboard doesn't look like a conventional dashboard, but it provides a quick and overview and quick access to several different tools with unique perspectives and functions. It is fast becoming our favorite home page.
Dashboard Features and Benefits
• Quick access to charts, alarms and thresholds • Expand "sparklines" to 1 day, 7 day, and 28 day timelines
• Easy access to QA/QC tool and Data Library
• Acknowledge individual or all alarms • Easily add or modify alarm thresholds We invite grabdata customers to check out this new feature and provide us your feedback!