Ancient Rituals and Modern Technology

The electric and gas utility business is complex. Some say the electric grid is the most sophisticated technology in the world. Natural gas networks are not far behind. Diving deep in to the business, there is probably one of nearly every kind of technological wonder at play. Control systems, artificial intelligence, Lidar, sensor networks, augmented reality, and of course GIS. Utilities, to some extent like the space industry, drive innovation of technology. Yet overlaid with all this sparkling technology are some old patterns of behavior.

Every industry strives to improve. Utilities can improve by getting rid of old habits.

Two old behaviors linger: working in silos, and heavy reliance on institutional knowledge. Continue reading

Posted in Industry Focus | Leave a comment

Creating Our Future

New Tools Will Help Us Meet the World’s Challenges

We try to predict the future every day. You think about what the weather might be like. You think about what might happen with your favorite sports team. You think about what the future might hold for you.

Beyond prediction, some of us are actually engaged professionally in creating the future. Because as Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create the future.”

2014 Esri User Conference Plenary: GIS–Creating Our Future.

Continue reading

Posted in Vision | Leave a comment

Looking for Park Space: Spatial Analysis with ArcGIS Online

ArcGIS Online is remaking GIS. We already take for granted how easy it is to make maps about anything and share them with anyone. And it’s not just maps. Data is becoming a social product, too. Partly through crowdsourcing (as Joseph Kerski recently wrote about here), and partly through projects like ArcGIS Open Data that help organizations offer their data like ice cream from a truck on a hot day.

But if GIS were a polygon, it would be a triangle: its vertices are maps, data, and analysis. Many people assume all analysis still has to be done in ArcGIS for Desktop. And it’s true that when it comes to geoprocessing tools, ArcGIS for Desktop is like Home Depot—it has everything you could possibly need (although you don’t always find it right away). By comparison, ArcGIS Online is like a good neighborhood hardware store. The inventory is smaller but it’s carefully chosen and more than meets your everyday needs. Continue reading

Posted in Technology | Leave a comment

Geoenabling Citizen Science

Every issue from pollution to habitat to biodiversity and beyond has a geographic component, and thus can be studied in the field.  Because the world is rapidly changing, and because large organizations have cut back on many of their field staffs, much of the critically needed field data can and should come from citizen scientists.

What is “citizen science”?

“Citizen science is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur or nonprofessional scientists, often by crowdsourcing and crowdfunding.”

Wikipedia

Consider the major environmental issues of our 21st Century world:  Coastal erosion, air, soil, and water pollution, urbanization, desertification, habitat loss, invasive species, and Continue reading

Posted in Vision | Leave a comment

Using Open Data to Create Impact Maps

On April 27, a severe weather outbreak began impacting the central United States and Mississippi Valley. Strong winds, large hail, and numerous tornadoes were reported. In Arkansas, one particular tornado resulted in heavy damage and numerous casualties. Fatality and injury reports have not yet been confirmed at the time of writing, and the formal impact assessment is underway.


Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Resilience: Building Smarter, Not Stronger

In Al Gore’s latest book, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change, he points out that it took nearly all of human history–some 200,000 years–to create the first billion people. It took only 12 years to create the last billion. We currently welcome about 1.5 million people to the planet every week, mostly in developing countries.

For the first time in recorded history, more than 50% of humanity now lives in cities. By 2050, some 80% will live in cities. Urbanization is already having a profound impact on our lives, yet we have little understanding of the unintended consequences.

Continue reading

Posted in Vision | 1 Comment

Story Maps for “Bread and Butter” Applications

butter-0

Story Maps are fun, easy, and informative. Their popularity is documented by the many interesting examples you will find at the Story Maps Gallery. An enduring favorite of mine is not the most sophisticated, or provocative, or one that required … Continue reading

Posted in Storytelling with Maps | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Does EarthCube Hold the “Keys to the Kingdom” of Earth Science Data?

Updated May 31, 2014

With all the recent excitement and good hopes over the White House Climate Data Initiative, and the ongoing progress of the Group on Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), there is another huge data initiative that bears mention: EarthCube.

I have used the word “initiative” for EarthCube but it has also been described as a vision, as a multi-faceted, multi-layered partnership, and also as a “virtual organization.” As such, it bears quite a bit of resemblance to the international GEOSS, but is much more US-based, having been conceived and currently funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF). Continue reading

Posted in Technology, Vision | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Supporting the White House Climate Data Initiative

Yesterday the White House announced a Climate Data Initiative that encourages innovation from the private sector and the general public. It’s a call to use open government data on climate change risks and impacts in compelling and useful ways that help citizens, businesses, and communities make smart choices in the face of climate change.

At Esri, we agree that America stands at a critical juncture. We must tap into our innovation to cut the carbon pollution that causes climate change and affects public health. This includes efforts big and small. We need to increase clean, alternative fuels in our energy portfolio; develop more efficient vehicles; and design smarter cities that foster informed citizens willing to do their part. We need to encourage walkable communities with smart transit and easy recycling programs. Cities must look at all options available to them: updating building codes, adjusting the way they manage natural resources, investing in more resilient infrastructure, and planning for rapid recovery from damages when severe weather events occur. We must increase climate resilience to strengthen roads, bridges, and shorelines to better protect people’s homes, businesses, and way of life. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

7 Open Source Projects You Should Know About from Esri R&D Center Portland

Terraformer Esri PDX

The Esri R&D Center in Portland, Oregon works on two main projects: developers.arcgis.com and the Esri Geotrigger Service. In our free time we also build and maintain open source tools to help us get our work done more easily. Here’s … Continue reading

Posted in Technology | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment