Category Archives: Industry Focus

What about the Big Problem?

Don’t think you’re solving it. Know you are.

For decades, utilities have used some form of digital mapping system. It could be a CAD system, an automated mapping/facilities management (AM/FM) system, or a full-featured GIS. Yet the vast majority of utilities use the GIS mainly as a basis for network documentation. Sure, it often is the basis for asset management, outage management, and network design. That’s good. Utilities have come a long way from the old paper maps and awkward processes of keeping records up to date. Yet, many don’t see their GIS as a true mapping or location platform. They often don’t see it as one that extends into nearly every corner of the company.

Many senior executives still view GIS as just a component, albeit a vital component, of operations groups instead of a strategic tool to help run the business. Executives do not necessarily see the GIS as a strong tool in helping solve their big problems.  Continue reading

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From Bricks to Clicks: How Location Intelligence is Changing Retail

Location analytics helps retailers breathe new life into old strategies. 

Online shopping is well understood. We don’t only know how many people visit an online retail site. We also know that changing the size of a picture by a few pixels will generate more sales. We can even see if online shopping carts have been abandoned, what items people have viewed, and how long visitors have stayed on a page to calculate their interest in buying a product.

But when it comes to knowing how many people shop at a physical store, traditionally we scratch our heads. We’ve been trying to figure out those details for more than a hundred years. And don’t get me started on “dark shoppers”—customers that visit a store but don’t purchase. Unlike online shoppers, “dark shoppers” don’t leave an activity trail. There’s been a lot of talk about how in-store beacons will change this, but the jury’s out on how shoppers will respond. Continue reading

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GIS to be Showcased at IUCN World Parks Congress

Esri and partners will display real-world solutions that address today’s conservation and development challenges.

Esri and partnering organizations will take part in the2014 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Parks Congress (WPC) which will be held 12-19 November in Sydney, Australia. Esri will be participating in the significant event to explain and promote the concept of GIS for landscape conservation and geodesign, a design framework for designing more sustainable cities and landscapes.

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What Does It Take to Build a Smart Community?

With a strong GIS platform, you can begin building a smart community today.

The term smart city has been gaining quite a bit of attention lately. Known by many names—livable communities, sustainable cities, resilient cities, and even smart nation or subsets like safe cities, healthy communities, and coastal resilience—the objectives are fairly similar, that is, to build a government that is more responsive, productive, efficient, transparent, and more engaging with its citizens. At Esri, we have opted to embrace two terms: smart communities and resilient communities. Building smart communities reflects national, state, regional, and local governments’ desire to improve quality of life. Building resilient communities relates to assisting governments in preparing for and recovering from man-made and natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, economic collapse, or climate change. Continue reading

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I Told You Where I Ate Lunch…What Are You Going to Do with the Data?

Finding a balance between consumers and companies when sharing geolocation information in the age of big data analytics.

Recently we returned from a retail conference where we highlighted to attendees the differences in perception and attitudes they have toward location data, depending on whether they are using it in their personal or professional lives.

This was the type of conference where those big-box and household-name retailers you see every day send their people in charge. They meet and discuss different ways to sort out the massive amounts of data they capture from today’s digital world. Their main purpose? Turn that data into hard results. Continue reading

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Creating a Bright Future for All Kids through Digital Learning

Just 25 years ago, life was very different for US residents. Few people used e-mail, “the web” was about spiders, and “portable phones” generated more derision than envy. Schools had some Apple IIs, Macs, PCs, or labs, but no school had hundreds of kids with constant access. How things have changed. Now digital learning helps kids whenever, wherever—at least, some kids. In 2013, President Barack Obama launched ConnectED, challenging businesses to help get all US schools into digital learning with more devices, more connectivity, more digital content, and more training for teachers.

In late May 2014, the White House announced Esri’s contribution to ConnectED: ArcGIS Online organizational subscriptions for any K–12 school in the United States. With major support from Amazon Web Services, kids in any US school can make maps and analyze data using powerful, professional web-based GIS, connected anytime and anywhere—on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Continue reading

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The Deadly Backlog: A Hole in the Safety Net

Interactive Maps Communicate Real-time Information to Plug the Holes

We have all heard the term safety net. It’s a system, a policy, a program, or device used to protect its owners just in case something bad happens. For example, people often refer to social security as a safety net for older people who don’t have a pension. The term comes to us from the circus, where large, roped nets are set up below trapeze artists. Without the nets, sweaty palms or small distractions could mean instant death. But with the net, they fall harmlessly and land with only a fright. However, most trapeze artists never want to fall. First of all, falling is a sign of failure. Second, when the term originated, the circus actors didn’t trust the integrity of the net, as circuses had and have notoriously bad maintenance. Safety nets have flaws. Trapeze artists know that. Some nets even have holes. Continue reading

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Making It Stick: Three Truths about Teaching with GIS

In their insightful book about the science of successful learning, Make It StickPeter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel spell out some truths about learning.  In addition, they dispel some preconceived notions that many of us may have about learning that simply aren’t valid.  I believe that three of these truths are instructive as to how we as the GIS community should approach teaching and learning with GIS: learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful, learning requires a foundation of prior knowledge, and putting knowledge into a larger context helps learning.


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Measure the Full Value of Your GIS Investment

Beyond ROI, Key Performance Indices and GIS Close Performance Gaps

[Note:  This is the third post in our new series about Managing GIS.]

A common question we get from our utility customers is, “What is the return on investment (ROI) for GIS?” The reason is most utilities need to justify the cost of building, upgrading, or enhancing their GIS (e.g., investing in a tablet-based damage-assessment app) or doing the same with their GIS data. That justification takes the form of a financial study that answers these questions: What is the payback period of GIS? What is its impact on balance and income sheets? What is the cash flow for the project?

Utility financial people call these hard-dollar savings. Hard-dollar savings are a common measuring stick by which to judge the merits of an investment. Continue reading

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Mobile GIS? Never Heard Of It!

Many Workflows are Best Served with Targeted Apps

I get this said to me all the time:  “We have this big GIS in the office. We use it all the time to make maps and export data into our outage systems or gas leak management system. It’s great! Can we put it into the field for the mobile workers?”

People want mobile GIS.  But I respond like a psychiatrist when they ask for it: Instead of giving them a straight answer, I ask them a question: “To do what?”

Their answers span a big gamut. They range from, “It’s easier to get maps on a mobile device than to carry around paper maps,” to…

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