Author Archives: Bern Szukalski

Bern Szukalski
Chief Technology Advocate and product strategist at Esri, focusing on ways to broaden access to geographic information and helping users succeed with the ArcGIS Platform. Follow @bernszukalski.

Recent Posts

From Open Data to Data Engagement

Beyond transparency and accountability, the ultimate goal of open government is to empower citizens by providing them with data in a meaningful context. 

The principles of open government and transparency suggest public access to information and, subsequently, scrutiny. Public scrutiny ultimately leads to accountability. Transparency and accountability together empower a public audience to weigh in on issues that matter to them, and provide an opportunity to influence decisions and hold the people making those decisions accountable.

When it comes to opening up GIS data, transparency is often cited as being a key driving factor in making that data available. But simply providing downloads for data is not enough, and in the grand scope of openness is somewhat meaningless. Continue reading

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Story Maps: 5 Tips and Tricks

Story maps are a great way to harness the power of maps to tell your stories. Here’s 5 simple tips and tricks to help you maximize your use of this exciting platform for geographic storytelling.

1. Add YouTube Videos to Your Story Map Tour

The Story Map Tour supports the ability to use videos from a variety of sources. Here’s an overview of how you can add YouTube videos to your Story Map Tour.

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Six Trending Topics in Web GIS

Analysis, 3D, Smart Mapping, and Other Trends Enable Us to Think About GIS Differently

The web continues to have an enormous impact on how we practice GIS and how we apply geospatial tools and capabilities to support our workflows and solve problems. It has fundamentally changed everything we do, and how we think. This trend has been evolving for years, but clearly has reached escape velocity and a new tipping point. No longer is the question “if” or “when” to embrace Web GIS, the question now is “how” to leverage the new opportunities and workflows it enables.

In an earlier post just after the 2015 Esri Federal GIS Conference, we covered the trending topics at that time. Here’s an update from the 2015 Esri User Conference, that focuses on how some of those trends have matured with new capabilities, and how a few new ones have arrived. Continue reading

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Six Trending Topics in Web GIS

Content, 3D, Story Maps, and Other Trends Offer New Opportunities to Re-imagine What’s Possible with GIS

The web has had an enormous impact on how we obtain information, connect with others, and work every day. Clearly GIS has also been transformed by the web—it’s enabling easier access, better workflows, and supporting diverse applications and new types of data, all leveraging flexible service-based architectures.

The web has also increased the value of GIS and the work we do as GIS professionals by making GIS pervasive and driving its importance to become an integral part of the decision making process. But the web has also added new challenges, creating not only demand, but also setting expectations and nudging us forward to consider what we do in new ways.

So what’s happening right now in web GIS? Here’s a few topics that are currently trending.

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The Story Maps Life Cycle

From custom beginnings to templatization: The evolution of a Story Map template

Story Maps can inform and inspire your audience. They combine interactive maps and multimedia content into elegant user experiences. One of the latest Story Maps—Geography Bee: A Global Gallery of Pollinators—uses the context of geography to present a spectacular collection of bee portraits by USGS scientist Sam Droege.

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A Framework for Resilience: Four GIS Building Blocks


Temperature shifts, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire, and floods… We’re already seeing the effects of climate change manifested in many ways. These changes are placing critical habitats at risk, shifting ecosystems, reducing water supplies, creating health concerns, and … Continue reading

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Story Maps for “Bread and Butter” Applications


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

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The 2014 Winter Olympic Story (Maps)


The 2014 Winter Olympics are upon us, and there will be lots of stories to tell both during and after the games. Several ArcGIS story maps help tell different kinds of stories that complement and provide context for what we’ll … Continue reading

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Another Year, Another 100 Million (or so)

By the time you see the image below it will be way out of date.

From Worldometers, it’s snapshot in time of the current world population which, depending on your source, is growing at a rate of somewhere between 75 and 140 million people each year. Proving, if nothing else, that humans are quite prolific.

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Celebrating Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address


“Four score and seven years ago” began what time would remember as a milestone in American history. On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, a speech that many consider among the most eloquent and important of … Continue reading

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