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Administering spatially enabled web applications at scale: R, Shiny, Docker, and ShinyProxy

Authors: Matthew Haffner*, University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Spatial Analysis & Modeling
Keywords: GIS, Spatial Analysis, Web GIS, Perceptual Regions
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Surveying people on how they perceive space and place has long been a task of geographers. From surveys on perceptual regions (e.g., "the South") to perceptions of spoken language in the USA, many involve giving participants a physical map and asking them to respond with a pen or a pencil. The difficulty -- or tedium -- then lies in digitizing responses to allow for analysis. Now, the combination of R and Shiny with Leaflet and OpenLayers, among others, allows for a completely digital workflow and the ability to survey many participants at once. Yet, this opportunity comes with technical challenges. One significant limitation of Shiny is R's single-threadedness: each application runs on only one R process, but noteworthy strides have been made in circumventing this issue through ShinyProxy and the containerization software, Docker. In this poster, I demonstrate a way to administer and scale web surveys for spatial data collection by using R, Shiny, Docker, and ShinyProxy, allowing for hundreds of simultaneous connected users.

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