Web GIS and Esri’s Massive Global Library of Content

Esri is now curating an enormous and rapidly growing library of ready-to-use maps, imagery, and geo-referenced data for the entire world. This online collection of authoritative content, together with the new Web GIS pattern, is having a huge impact on the way people use GIS. 

GIS has a long history of successfully adapting to new technologies, applications, customer types, and business models. From mainframes to minicomputers, UNIX workstations to PCs, desktops to the enterprise to the cloud, each round of technical innovation has led to countless advantages for users of the technology. Every one of these changes has extended the reach of GIS by making it more accessible and usable by more people and for more applications.

Esri is curating a massive library of ready-to-use data for the entire world.

Today, Web GIS together with massive online content is creating a major transformation in the use and access of GIS with simpler tools and information architecture.  Some of the major initiatives that are enabling this transformation include: Continue reading

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Risk. Utility. And location.

GIS gives utilities a repeatable means of mitigating risk and minimizing surprises.

The probability that something bad will happen makes us think of our protectors: insurance companies. Insurance companies accumulate the combined risk of policyholders. Insurers lose money if bad things happen. They make money if bad things don’t happen.

Some say utilities are risk averse. It’s true that utilities historically are conservative. They avoid taking actions that could trigger unwanted consequences. The problem is, the cost of remaining conservative rises constantly. Given recent economic troubles, utilities must learn to avoid negative consequences while also avoiding overspending to do so. The situation gets worse when you consider utility infrastructure ages faster than many utilities can afford to replace. So as facilities enter disrepair, hazards abound. Reliability suffers.

What happens? Continue reading

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Data Drives Economic Development

Demographics, lifestyle, and spending data provide answers to the “Who, What, and How” questions that business owners need to ask.

When local Economic Development departments need to attract new businesses to fill empty sites, where do they start? The answer: Show ‘em some data!

Data about the types of people who live, work, and shop near a site is like gold to business owners, revealing incredibly valuable intelligence. To learn where a new site can be successful, business owners need answers to three basic questions about an area population:

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Before Time Runs Out: An Ocean of Information for Climate Resilience

Recent innovations in information, analyses, and science-policy linkages  can help guide the planet towards a more resilient future.

For many of us when we think about the ocean, it’s a situation of “out of sight, out of mind.” In our limited awareness of the ocean, we see only the surface and think only of vast expanses of lifeless water, not realizing all of the complexities at play.

In fact, the ocean provides over HALF of the oxygen that we breathe. It regulates ALL of our weather patterns, it feeds us, and it provides for our energy and economy.

The ocean is a champion at absorbing human-derived (anthropogenic) CO2. Around half of all carbon dioxide produced by humans since the industrial revolution has dissolved into the world’s oceans. Coastal habitats store five times more carbon than do inland tropical forests. This has all helped to slow global warming.

So in reality, the ocean is vital to all of us, no matter WHERE we live. Continue reading

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It’s a Fuel Eat Fuel World

Advanced location analytics assist gas utilities in the face of growing demand—and growing competition. 

Natural gas and electric distribution utilities compete to bring energy to homes and businesses for heating purposes. Today, these utilities continue a long-running battle to gain market share at the expense of each other. Stakes are high. Generally, the winner supplying energy for heating has some competitive advantage in supplying energy for hot water and cooking. But not necessarily.

At times, executives responsible for customer growth in natural gas distribution envy their peers in water and electric distribution. Virtually every household and business needs water and electricity for some purpose. That’s not the case for natural gas.

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Geography on the World Stage

The convergence of five global trends—geo-awareness, geo-enablement, geotechnologies, citizen science, and storytelling—has the potential to offer geography a world audience.

Five converging global trends may present geography with world attention that may be unprecedented in the history of the discipline. These include geo-awareness, geo-enablement, geotechnologies, citizen science, and storytelling. Each of these recent trends is transforming the audience for geography and how geography is taught, perceived, and used.

Issues central to geography are now part of the global consciousness. Everyday objects are rapidly becoming locatable, and thus able to be monitored and mapped. Many tools and data sets that were formerly used and examined only by geographers and other earth and environmental scientists are now in the hands of the general public. Citizens outside academia are becoming involved in contributing data to the scientific community. Multimedia and cloud-based GIS have greatly multiplied the attraction that maps have had for centuries to tell stories. Continue reading

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Telematics is the Future

Using telematics smartly, we can create a better driving experience while using resources more effectively and increasing throughput on our roads.

What is telematics? Basically, telematics is the science of summarizing all information from mobile units, like cars, trucks, ships, and other vehicles, for sharing mobile data. Information about traveling speed, braking conditions, vehicle diagnostics, the temperature of a refrigerated container and more can be aggregated through a telecommunications network and distributed. Information from vehicles on the move can be used to make decisions on a moment’s notice. Every mobile device, every car on the road can become a sensor.

How will GIS help automated cars become a reality?

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Top 10 Reasons to Share Your Data with ArcGIS Open Data

Releasing your open data means much more than making a file download site to meet government transparency requirements.

Publishing your data as open data makes your community and the whole world a better place to live. Open data enriches the programs and applications created by software developers. It stimulates local, regional, national, and international economies. Open data is eradicating polio and combating Ebola. Open data helps scientists and researchers better understand the universe and make life better for all of us.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is using ArcGIS Open Data to help combat the deadly Ebola virus.

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3 Clicks to Public Works

Three clicks to public works? If you read about the Internet of Things, there is a theory that everyone wants information in three clicks or fewer. I read an interesting rebuttal to this theory, suggesting that it is not the number of clicks that is important but whether users are getting the information they need along the way. At Esri, we are working hard to get you the information you need in as few clicks as possible. Truth is, many public works challenges cannot be resolved in three clicks, but at least we give you the information you need in each step of the business process.

I recently gave an overview of the water industry from the public works perspective at our inaugural Esri Water Conference in Portland, Oregon. I was privileged to reflect on how water infrastructure challenges were faced in the past versus now. Several years ago, as the asset management manager of Colorado Springs Utilities, I helped our organization fight water main breaks with a myriad of tools, including Esri’s very own ArcGIS, pre-platform. I say “pre-platform” because we did not have ArcGIS Online or configurable web maps and apps that run on any device, anywhere and at any time. We did have a state-of-the-art enterprise GIS back then, but let me tell you, there were lots of moving parts and many button clicks. We spent as much (or more) time managing the technology as we did fixing water main breaks. And don’t get me started on managing all that data.

Now, enter the platform of ArcGIS. Today’s ArcGIS has all the traditional components — desktop, server, and mobile capabilities — but has been improved with a common thread of web services and web maps served up through ArcGIS Online, backed by the Living Atlas of the World, with thousands of datasets useful in public works decision making. These components have become inseparable and offer a true collaborative platform for delivering information to field and office personnel on any device, anywhere, anytime. The ArcGIS for Public Works solution suite offers a configuration of the platform to jump-start your public works department.

ArcGIS is not your father’s GIS anymore. Three clicks? We are getting closer every day.

 

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Seven Ways to Modernize Utility GIS

Take a hard look at your GIS.  It’s probably time to modernize.

I hate the word “selfie.” But this new concept is everywhere. Over the past year or so, everyone seems to taking pictures of themselves and tweeting them. This seems awfully self-indulgent. Yet, maybe it’s a good thing to take a hard look at yourself once in a while. Maybe taking a selfie gives you a chance to re-invent yourself.

Utilities need to reassess their practices, too, particularly in this age of rapid change touching everything from climate and renewable resources to technology. One technology utilities might want to take a hard look at is their GIS. After all, utilities have been using GIS for ages. So it’s probably time to modernize. Here are my seven ways utilities can modernize their GIS.

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