Author Archives: Matt Artz

Matt Artz
Matt Artz joined Esri in 1989. In his current role as GIS and Science Manager, he helps communicate the value of GIS as a tool for scientific research and understanding. He writes extensively about geospatial technologies, manages the GIS and Science blog, and is the editor of GIS.com. Prior to joining Esri he worked as an Environmental Scientist at a large science and engineering consulting company, on such diverse projects as highway noise modeling, archaeological impact assessment, and chemical weapons disposal. His educational background includes an M.S. degree in Environmental Policy and Planning and a B.S. degree in Anthropology and Geography.

Recent Posts

A Look Inside the 2013 GIS Managers’ Open Summit

On Tuesday, July 9th, 2013, more than 130 GIS professionals came together in San Diego, California for the 4th annual GIS Managers’ Open Summit. The GIS Managers’ Open Summit is an “unconference“-style event designed to help GIS managers, business and technology strategists, and other decision makers attending the Esri User Conference to engage in conversations with their peers on topics that relate to business efficiencies, ROI, managing data, and much more.

The day opened with a brief motivational talk by the “father of GIS,” Roger Tomlinson, who emphasized the importance of the work that GIS managers do.  He was followed by Greg Babinski, president of URISA, who talked for a few minutes about the work that URISA is doing to establish a GIS Management Institute and develop a GIS Management Body of Knowledge. Continue reading

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A Living Atlas of the World

Atlases have long been used by people to help navigate and understand our world.  A traditional atlas consists of a collection of static maps portraying various aspects of geography, bound together in book form and updated with new information at long intervals.  The geography covered, in terms of both themes and extent, is set in stone for any given atlas, and the thematic information is typically created and authored by a select few authoritative sources.

These traditional atlases have served us well for many hundreds of years.  But today, the world is changing rapidly, and it’s difficult for traditional atlases to keep up with the pace of that change.  To help us keep pace with our evolving planet, our concept of what exactly constitutes an atlas must also evolve. Continue reading

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The New Age of Real-Time GIS

GIS is a platform for understanding our world. In the past, the data that fueled GIS was typically created to represent the state of the geoscape at a specific moment in time (“historic” or “current”; or “future” to represent a future modeled state). While this data has proven valuable for countless GIS applications and analyses, even the “current” snapshot falls out of sync with the real world quickly. In today’s fast-paced, constantly changing world, the “current” snapshot is outdated almost as soon as it is created.

A number of new technologies are combining to enable the real time collection of data, and the sharing of that data in real time with GIS. The result is a dynamic platform which enables real time visualization, analysis, and understanding of our world. This is the new age of real-time GIS. Continue reading

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Causality in Time and Space: Agent-Based Modeling for GIS Users

Kevin Johnston has been part of Esri’s software development team for more than 20 years, focusing on the ArcGIS Spatial Analyst extension and various aspects of dynamic and statistical modeling.  In addition to working at Esri, Kevin does volunteer conservation work on a variety of conservation projects, including elephant-movement models for Amboseli National Park in Kenya, snow leopard corridor models in Nepal, and agent-based models of cougar movement in Arizona.  With the release of a new book he edited called Agent Analyst: Agent-Based Modeling in ArcGIS, I asked Kevin to share some basic information on agent-based modeling and how the GIS community might leverage it in their projects. Continue reading

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The New Geographers

“So many of the world’s current issues—at a global scale and locally—boil down to geography, and need the geographers of the future to help us understand them.”
Michael Palin

“What is the capital of Madagascar?”

Unfortunately, that’s what most people think of when they hear the term geography.

“It’s boring,” they say. “It’s the study of useless information. It has no practical relevance to my life.”

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Geography is one of the most interesting, vibrant, and dynamic fields of study today. It’s also one of the most vital.

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Solution Templates: Rethinking GIS

GIS technology has evolved from a tool for specialized professionals to a platform that can be used “by everyone.”  An important component of this more far-reaching platform is the development and release of Solution Templates that are designed to facilitate GIS throughout the organization.

“Our goal is to provide things that help people be successful,” said Damian Spangrud, Esri’s new Director of Solutions. “But the landscape is changing—the types of people we are serving, how they are using our technology, and even the definition of what is ‘success’— everything is changing.  As we started to think about where GIS fits in this new landscape, the questions we started asking ourselves were: What kinds of things can we give people so that they can tailor their ArcGIS system to be more successful? And how can we help them share their GIS investment with everyone across the organization?”

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Geodesign Pioneer Honored

Dr. Stephen Ervin is as vibrant as his day of birth—Mardi Gras. Like the celebratory day itself, Ervin is animated, larger than life, and full of contagious energy. He has spent two decades working at Harvard University teaching courses, speaking at conferences, and authoring books about his passion—the intersection of computing, design, and science. “Geodesign has taken over my life,” Ervin chuckles.

The Assistant Dean for Information Technology at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Director of Computer Resources, and lecturer in the Department of Landscape Architecture, Ervin still somehow manages to find time to evangelize and promote the principles of geodesign in various ways around the world.

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The Geoscape: A New Canvas for Understanding

For many years, Bill Miller directed the development of Esri’s training and support infrastructure. Later as an engineer/architect, he was intimately involved in the design of Esri’s state-of-the-art corporate headquarters and conference center. Perhaps his best-known contribution to the GIS community was development of the ModelBuilder environment released as part of the ArcGIS Spatial Analyst extension. More recently, he came out of retirement to rejoin Esri and head up a new Geodesign Services effort.

Miller’s vision for the integration of geospatial technologies with the design process was long shared by a group of people that included UC Santa Barbara’s Michael Goodchild, Esri President Jack Dangermond, Harvard University’s Carl Steinitz, and a handful of others. Miller took the first step towards making this vision a reality when he assembled a small team to develop ArcSketch, a free sample extension that allowed users to quickly sketch features in ArcGIS. ArcSketch was Esri’s first small step toward what is now commonly referred to as “geodesign.”

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Thinking Outside the Map

“That’s another thing we’ve learned from your Nation,” said Mein Herr, “map-making. But we’ve carried it much further than you. What do you consider the largest map that would be really useful?”

“About six inches to the mile.”

“Only six inches!” exclaimed Mein Herr. “We very soon got to six yards to the mile. Then we tried a hundred yards to the mile. And then came the grandest idea of all! We actually made a map of the country, on the scale of a mile to the mile!”

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Esri Insider: The First Year

Today marks the one year anniversary of the Esri Insider blog launch.  It all started on June 30th, 2011, with a simple little post about our (then) new Ocean Basemap.  Since then, we’ve brought you more than 30 posts about Esri’s vision, technology trends, and other important and entertaining topics for geospatial professionals.

In terms of page views, the top 5 most popular posts to date have been:

  1. The Future Looks Bright for Spatial Thinkers
  2. GIS and The City 2.0
  3. The Intersection of GIS and Gaming
  4. GIS without the Box
  5. Telling Stories with Maps

What was your favorite post?  And what would you like us to discuss next?

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