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The Problem: I work for a company that has on-call rotations for emergencies after hours. The most common emergencies come in the form of alarms physically placed in a specific location (e.g. alarm no. 2208 was set off at housing unit at the corner of Elm St. & Pine Blvd). We often need to use multiple programs on my company’s network and open excel spreadsheets (often all at the same time) to find the relevant information to determine the necessary information to address emergencies. This is time consuming, which is not good for time-sensitive issues.

The Idea: I want to create a program that takes information from excel spreadsheets and my company’s alarm software (accessed via url on the internet in a secure network) and displays everything in one screen. That is, I only need to input the alarm number, and all the relevant programs and information is displayed on a single, interactive dashboard.

My Experience and Tools Available: I know how to code in Python and SQL, and use data visualization tools like Tableau. I DO NOT have experience in Front-End languages such as HTML, JavaScript, etc. My company’s resources are also limited. It has MS Access and Excel primarily, and other standard MS office products. I believe I can convince my boss to allow download of some programs that are free, or are cheap.

The Challenge: My main hurdle is to ensure security (no hacking or communication with an outside network) and whether a ‘free’ data visualization tool exists to embed URLs to stream live data and import excel spreadsheet data. I know PowerBI supports embed URLs, but as far as I know it costs money that my superiors might not be willing to spend.

Can anyone offer insight on how to tackle this project? Further, does anyone know of any data visualization tools exist that meet my needs (free, no communication with outside network, and embed web-apps and import excel data)?

  • What about Python Library Bokeh as a front-end? stackoverflow.com/tags/bokeh/info but I don't know how you'd like to handle the Excel/Access connectivity. – knb Jan 1 at 10:03
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If you are familiar with (or willing to learn) Windows Powershell: there is the Unviersal Dashboard. It comes in a simple free version, and a payed version with more features (like login pages, LDAP authentication...).

All the 'front end work' is already done, you can very easy create dashboards with data from all kind of sources, you can create graphs... Basically anything you can process with powershell, you can visualize with UD.

With powershell it should also be possible to process data from Excel sheets, this could be the most tricky part of all. I know that there is a powershell module to create, read an manipulate xlsx files, but until now I just used it to create Excel sheets from scratch.

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