Category Archives: Industry Focus

The Location of Things

In an era where nearly everything moveable, measurable, and monitorable, location has become a crucial component of the Internet of Things.

The buzz about the Internet of Things (IoT) is everywhere. You know the IoT: the notion of an always-aware network of sensors found in interconnected devices. Typically these sensors capture identity, status, and other relevant information. But for what value? Having a sensor alerting you to a device-based problem is no good—unless you know where to send a repair person. If a sensor alerts you to your colleague in trouble, it would be nice to know where to send help.

Location is a crucial component of the IoT, and geography gives the IoT its actionable value. That’s why I get even more excited about another new buzz phrase: The Location of Things.

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Breaking Down Barriers

Enhancing internal and external collaboration with the ArcGIS platform.

In the novel You Can’t Go Home Again, mid-20th-century American author Thomas Wolfe fictionalizes his hometown. Wolfe’s main character gets into trouble, angering the townsfolk of his hometown. I can relate.

I grew up in a blue-collar city, where the main claim to fame was that at one time it was the most densely populated city in the United States. That meant packed houses and city streets. You could say that I grew up on the streets of this very crowed city. Shortly after marrying and having a child, my wife and I moved to the suburbs. Later, my career became running electric operations for the power company that covered my old home town.

About 15 years ago, my hometown City Council invited me as a special guest at the chamber. Residents packed the public session; I felt certain at least a few might have gone to high school with me.

The residents weren’t happy. I felt like Wolfe’s character. Continue reading

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Local + Global = Real Estate Success

A collection of data, maps, and apps powered by ArcGIS Online is one broker’s not-so-secret key to success. 

John Schultz is a commercial real estate broker in Baltimore, Maryland. With a drive to help retailers continually find their next location, John juggles a lot in any given day: site reviews, lease negotiations, market tours, and much more. And he works in multiple markets, with multiple clients. He’s also a strong family man who’s committed to making time for his wife and two kids.

How does he keep up? He works smart.

John Schultz, a partner at MacKenzie commercial Real Estate Services, knows maps make smart business colleagues.

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Two Mapping Forums for Advanced Users and Senior Executives

For more than 30 years, the annual Esri User Conference (Esri UC) has brought together thought leaders to share the latest innovations and applications in geographic information system (GIS) technology, which seems limited only by the imagination.

Interest in GIS has grown exponentially over the years, which, in turn, has attracted more and more people with varying backgrounds and expertise to the Esri UC. As a result, attendees began demanding coinciding events specific to their particular areas of interest. Esri’s mapping and statistics team will be staging two forums at the Esri UC this summer to meet the needs of users whose business is mapping and GIS data production. Continue reading

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Esri and the Scientific Community: Year in Review/The Year Ahead

Science at Esri continues to be an exciting initiative where we are concerned with supporting both basic and applied science, while also recognizing that there are many major themes of compelling interest to society that will drive scientific research for the next two decades. Thus we view science as helping us to understand not only how the Earth works, but also how the Earth should look (e.g., by way of geodesign), and how we should look at the Earth (i.e., by way of Earth observation in varying forms and the accompanying data science issues of analysis, modeling, developing and documenting useful datasets for science, interoperating between these datasets and between various approaches). In addition to supporting the science community, we seek to do good science at Esri ourselves, as it underpins much of what we do as an organization. This is helping us to evolve ArcGIS into a comprehensive geospatial platform for science; a platform that supports research project management and collaboration, spatial analysis, visualization, open data, and communication of science, all at multiple scales (i.e., from individual researcher to lab workgroup, to multi-department, multi-university, university-to-agency collaboration, to citizen engagement).

You can always track the totality of the Esri science initiative at esriurl.com/scicomm, but in this post I’ll share some highlights from 2014, and as we near the end of 2015′s first quarter, talk about the immediate road ahead. Continue reading

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16 Things We Can Do to Increase Geoliteracy

Many of the big issues the world is facing today are fundamentally tied to space and place—they are geographic issues. To grapple with these issues requires a population that can assess and use geographic information to make wise decisions—in short, a geoliterate population. Creating a geoliterate population requires cultivation in three essential areas: core content, geographic tools, and the geographic perspective.

Core content. While core content is important, it is often maligned, perhaps because it is often equated with memorization of facts for examinations. Geography’s core content is richer than mere facts—and much of it is systems thinking: ecosystems, and systems of climate, culture, watersheds, oceans, land use, governments, and many more. Core content focuses include learning about natural phenomena such as how ocean currents affect climate, and cultural phenomena, such as sense of place.

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Killing Old Habits

To stay profitable and transform business, utilities must break with old habits.

There’s a well-known saying that goes, “Old habits die hard.” All my life, I’ve struggled to manage my weight. I’ve probably lost 1,000 pounds in my life, but the problem is I’ve gained 1,050 pounds. If I really wanted to lose weight permanently, I would kill off my old bad habits for good, not just suspend them for a while during the diet and then bring them back again as soon as I lose enough weight. To really transform yourself, old, negative habits must die.

Electric companies are going through huge change. Regulators insist on unbundling utility components: generation, transmission, distribution, and retail services. In the old days of vertical integration, electric companies could make money on the strength of their business diversity. Today that’s less so. And to make matters worse, energy delivery,  transmission and distribution (T&D), faces lots of unknowns, including weather, theft, vandalism, terrorism, and public scrutiny.

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A Strong Core Leads to a Healthy Business

Using ArcGIS as a system of record can help retailers navigate the global marketplace successfully

The retail world is expanding. According to an International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), 70 percent of the retail chains around the world are opening new stores this year. It’s a global phenomenon that is coming at a time when consumer expectations and habits are evolving at an unprecedented fast pace.

What is driving this growth? The ability to understand microdemographics, changes in distribution channels, and the power of the web seem to be the catalysts that are ensuring growth across a large scale. Retailers no longer need to be entrenched in a local environment to understand their customer base, build up brand, and grow sales.  There has been no other time in history when a retailer could first open a store in San Francisco, a second in Sydney, and a third in Singapore in quick succession and expect to be successful.

By understanding where data comes from, anyone in a business can decipher knowledge quickly and make better decisions.

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Mastering Spatial Thinking through Web Mapping

Teaching spatial thinking concepts and their practical application through hands-on exploration prepares today’s students for tomorrow’s jobs. 

Spatial thinking is identifying, analyzing, and understanding the location, scale, patterns, and trends of the geographic and temporal relationships among data, phenomena, and issues.  Spatial thinking helps us better understand our world and solve the tough problems we face today.

Geo-technologies—which include geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, global positioning systems (GPS), and web mapping—are the way we apply spatial thinking concepts to our everyday lives.  In 2004, the US Department of Labor identified three rapidly growing fields for the 21st Century: Nanotechnology, biotechnology, and geo-technology. Teaching the concepts of spatial thinking and the use of geo-technologies to today’s students is important because it’s where the jobs are—and will continue to be in the future. 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.

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