Refractions Research was founded in 1997 as a consulting company with the British Columbia government as its primary client. Demand for geospatial services was high, so Refractions began to expand almost immediately, with our client base extending to other governments, nonprofits and the private sector.
Our work with PostgreSQL and other open source tools, like Linux and PHP, led Refractions in 2001 to enter into the open source arena with a spatial database product, PostGIS. We also began delivering solutions using other open source geospatial packages, such as Mapserver, GeoServer, JTS and GeoTools. In a number of these cases we contributed code to the projects. Such endeavours very quickly expanded our client base to include agencies and companies from around the globe.
During these early formative years for the company, we also began to take on operational responsibilities for geospatial data transformation and integration, producing monthly products tailored to E911 and other high-end applications. Much of this work was, and continues to be, carried out using FME. In some cases specialized conflation, database and GIS routines are also part of the required processing, using open source and proprietary solutions such as ArcGIS.
By 2005 Refractions was doing an increasing number of projects using Java and FME for enterprise applications. This gave us the ability to move into the realm of open source Java geospatial. We improved the GeoServer J2EE server, built the uDig desktop application platform, and built the HectaresBC geospatial analytical engine.
In the last few years our work has expanded to include location-based web services, with particular emphasis on high performance geocoding, routing and address validation. We continue to provide support and training on PostGIS, as well as supporting specialized operational ETL work for road, address, and atom related products. And we continue to build custom systems for our clients typically using just open source or a mix of open source and proprietary components; such as the SMART anti-poaching, conservation and monitoring application that we developed for a consortium of global wildlife and environmental conservation organizations.
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