Monthly Archives: October 2011

GIS for Everyone, by Anyone

Earlier this week I was meeting with one of the directors of a large state agency. Among other topics we discussed, he told me that his organization was adopting a policy to move away from custom application development. Whenever possible they would serve internal and public needs with off-the-shelf applications, or better yet, with those that can be easily custom-configured without the need for programming.

When asked why, he explained the last custom application they’d deployed had to be abandoned – the programmer had left for another job, had taken knowledge of its internal workings with him, and they were unable to hire (because of budget constraints) the programming expertise needed to make the necessary updates to the application.

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Open Source, Closed Source: Moving to the Middle

Recently, several of us here at Esri had the opportunity to attend and support FOSS4G, the ‘Free and Open Source Software for GIS’ conference, this year held in Denver, Colorado.Esri was sponsoring large, and with four speaking slots and a fully staffed booth, I’d like to think we were valuable contributors to this event—which seemed to be a terrific success, with over 900 attendees.

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Facing the Challenge of Aging Infrastructure

The right tool for the job

In 2009, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave America’s infrastructure a “D.” When most of America’s infrastructure was originally built, the country was in a growth mode and engineered every specific project to be optimal before moving on, not always understanding the mechanics of the complete system—how the various projects or components worked together and how they affected each other at a more regional scale. To add to this complacency, underground infrastructure also suffered from the adage “out of sight, out of mind.” Today, with our limited budgets and declining workforce, we are experiencing the results of this oversight. We understand that infrastructure decays due to in situ conditions and operational extremes, material degradation and manufacturing defects, and dynamic loads not taken into account in the original design. We now know that skipped maintenance schedules shorten the life expectancy of our assets. Entire systems are being brought down by their weakest links. Continue reading

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Improving Government Transparency and Accountability

Born out of the Gov 2.0 movement, the terms transparency and accountability have become part of the daily vernacular of governments and the citizens they serve. One might even suggest these words have become a new expectation of governing. Transparency and accountability began with a simple concept of openly communicating public policy to the taxpayer. Today, these concepts are thriving within a growing emphasis on developing an interactive dialog between governments and the people.

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The Intersection of GIS and Gaming

Video games have moved beyond the stereotype of simple entertainment and are now a serious technological and cultural force to be reckoned with.  Millions of people spend many hours each week immersed in the rich virtual environments of today’s sophisticated games.  And the multibillion dollar market for games has moved beyond teen males, with adults and women now more engaged than ever.

Most games today have a spatial component, and these virtual worlds are becoming more complex and sophisticated.  There is no doubt that video games have a high potential for effective education, with individuals often learning valuable skills and gaining experience from within a simulated environment.  But beyond education, where else do GIS and gaming intersect?

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The Future Looks Bright for Spatial Thinkers

Many industries have suffered during the current economic downturn.  So why is it that during this same period, demand for geospatial technology professionals has grown significantly?

I think that this trend is due to the growing understanding of the value of spatial information and analysis.  There are many reasons to implement GIS, but the benefits that we see driving organizations in lean times are cost savings resulting from greater efficiency.  And as we come out of this economic downturn, the efficiencies realized from GIS will become a standard way of doing business, so the need for geospatial professionals will increase even more.

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