DLR MovingLab GIS App

August 2019Touchwert, Sebastian Wloch, Tim Ebert
In order to support researchers in the DLRs MovingLab, we developed a tool that makes it possible to explore huge geographical datasets and generate insights into mobility patterns.

The MovingLab is part of the DLR – the German Aerospace Center (German: Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt). Its main objective is to explore mobility patterns and behavior through sensor-based elicitations. Using surveys and by capturing the GPS data of volunteers, the team is able to generate detailed – but anonymous – movement patterns. In order to be able to analyse these patterns and transform them into valuable use-case specific insights, it is essential to create an easy to use medium for data exploration. 

Let's prototype a solution

Within a small scale prototype in the beginning of 2018, it became clear that existing tools would not be sufficient for the specific use of the MovingLab. The Team is in a constant exchange with companies, institutions and people, as they are part of many conventions and have their own showroom based in Berlin Adlershof. The application should be able to generate an easy entry point and comprehensive visualizations. As the data consists of sets of GPS coordinates and accompanying information such as the medium of mobility or the felt safety of bike lanes, a map defines the center of the interface. It is surrounded by the option to filter the visualized trips, which allow for precise visualizations. 

The New GIS Tool

In close collaboration with the MovingLab Team and constant iteration, a new application was developed. It's main goal: Support for much higher amounts of data and the ability to generate statistics. While especially the high amounts of data seem to be a predominantly software development challenge, both goals needed a clear design language. Multiplying the amount of explorable movement data by a factor of X created new possibilities and required a new set of features. Filters were extended with new types of data and overall generalization, leading to a dynamic system, that scales with the Teams needs. 

Statistics are presented on a separate screen and automatically generate insights based on the map position and applied filters. They are highly customizable and support a variety of data visualization types.

Overall, the system provides a new medium to analyze and explore mobility patterns and behavior. The system is constantly improved and adapted to the changing needs in research and communication.

Software Development

Dealing with huge amounts of geographical data required a specific software structure, consisting of an optimized database, a GeoServer providing the map and visualizing the mobility data, and the application itself. The node-based application is divided into an API, communicating with the Geoserver and Database, an administration area with extensive features for data processing and preparation, and the GIS tool itself. The development and design of GIS – Graphical Information System – Services is a challenging and exciting field of Interface Design.


My involvement in the project was focussed on the lead design and software development. Touchwert – an agency specialized in multi-touch hard- and software – lead the project and build multiple custom made multi-touch tables, the tool was developed for. Tim Ebert was part of the design team and created the UI layout.