Category Archives: Industry Focus

Esri Convenes Historic Oceans Summit

This past week (November 7-8, 2012), we held the first and only Esri Oceans Summit at Esri headquarters in Redlands. This was an invitation-only, high-level strategy workshop attended by intermediate to advanced ocean GIS analysts and developers, including many long-time users of Esri software. It was also an important deliverable of our new Oceans GIS Initiative.

More than 50 attendees triumphed over agency travel restrictions, budget cuts, busy schedules, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and other obstacles in order to be here with us at their own expense. They came ready to discuss with more than 40 Esri employees the various GIS functional requirements for ocean science, justification for and validation of such approaches, use cases, and the like. One major goal was for Esri to listen carefully to these attendees in order to help us move forward in our thinking about our approaches and our products to better serve ocean science and resource management.  Esri employees came from all parts of the organization: Industry Solutions/Marketing, Core Development, Sales, Professional Services, and more.
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Governing in a Connected World

Driving change through GIS

The technology we use today, both in our work and personal lives, has become interchangeable. The smartphone that is available through any retailer today is as capable, or more capable, than what most people need for work. The computer that I used at my desk, just a few years ago, is less capable than the phone that I carry at my hip. One might say that we are holding onto an overabundance of computing potential in our very hand. Add to this the throughput broadband and 4G wireless networks allow. One only has to watch the news to see how citizens are reacting to this abundance of connectivity. Information about your family, friends, and business acquaintances is at your fingertips. So is information about your bank accounts, credit cards, hotel reservations, or a sale at your favorite store. But government is a different animal—it is cautious and slow to change. And it is this change that occupies the thoughts of many public leaders. Just as we’re growing to expect more information and answers at our fingertips, citizens’ expectations of government are also growing. Continue reading

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Public Works and the Cloud

A leapfrog opportunity

Despite the digital revolution, many public works departments are still in the paper age. Typically, these departments serve smaller communities and have yet to adopt GIS technology for a variety of reasons, including cost and complexity. The steps in implementing a traditional GIS include buying a system; converting paper basemaps; adding infrastructure layers such as roads, pipes, and wires; building applications; and training users, all of which is often too resource intensive. Cloud-based GIS removes these barriers. Continue reading

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Telecommunications Technology Revolution

Optimizing the network investment

Today’s telecommunications networks involve a growing number of choices of technologies for use in the outside plant. To accommodate varying technologies, engineers need new tools for planning and design. Fiber optics and wireless technology have revolutionized the local telecommunications network. Over the last two decades, fiber has transitioned from backbone and long-haul transmission lines to the local loop and become critical to delivering broadband. Wireless continues to evolve into a replacement for traditional landline service, and with the explosion of smartphones, wireless itself is becoming a medium for broadband data delivery. Continue reading

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GIS 4 Kids

Esri’s Education team is often asked: Does GIS have value for kids? What kinds of things do students, teachers, and administrators do with GIS?

Yes, GIS does have huge value for kids as well as adults! Today’s youth are tomorrow’s decision makers and GIS users. “Geo-Literacy“—the ability to use geographic understanding and geographic reasoning to make decisions—is a critical skill for addressing the tough issues affecting global health and community life.  It’s also crucial to students’ personal success.

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Mapping the Future of Corrections

An intelligence-led approach to offender management

The May 2011 decision by the US Supreme Court ordering California to ease prison overcrowding by aggressively reducing their prisoner population sent shockwaves through the California corrections and law enforcement community. It also served to put the other states on notice as well. For California, the result has been the release of thousands of prisoners into communities at a time when state and local police are ill-equipped to deal with them, and parole and probation agencies are already overburdened and understaffed. The consequence is that there are now significantly more offenders requiring community supervision, but fewer personnel to meet this need. The subsequent increase in caseloads requires local agencies to work smarter and work together—in essence, to have an intelligence-led approach to community corrections. Continue reading

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Envisioning the Spatial University

Fulfilling the potential of geospatial technology

Spatial thinking and geospatial technologies remain unrealized opportunities for much of higher education. For example:

  • There’s now compelling evidence suggesting that spatial abilities prepare students for success in STEM coursework and early employment. However, no college or university includes such preparation among its overarching general education objectives.
  • Despite the synthetic power of the spatial perspective, research discoveries too often remain segregated and hidden in disciplinary silos.
  • For nearly a decade, the US Department of Labor has highlighted career opportunities associated with geospatial technologies. Still, relatively few higher education institutions offer advanced, practice-oriented educational programs to prepare students for such opportunities.
  • Geospatial technologies enable students to perform valued service learning projects in their communities. Even among those colleges and universities that have institution-wide service learning programs, however, precious few prepare students to leverage GIS.
  • Enterprise GIS infrastructures offer the potential to save money in campus planning, operations, and facilities management. Given the severe fiscal challenges that confront most higher education institutions, it’s remarkable that so few institutions have realized this potential.

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What’s the Cost of a Power Failure?

Measuring the impact on customers

This year, New England had one of its worst late season storms in recent history. Heavy snow brought down trees, which in turn, brought down many power lines. Some people were out of power for more than a week. In March, a fire in a substation shut off power to the historic Back Bay section of Boston for several days. The blackout left hotels, office buildings, and subway stations dark and shuttered some of the most exclusive shops in the city. Continue reading

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What Every Warfighter Needs to Know

Bringing spatial awareness into your mission

Before making a decision, military commanders gather a lot of information to analyze. First, they ask the same six questions journalists ask when gathering the news: who, what, where, when, why, and how. The critical question that ties the others together is where. Knowing the answer to where often helps the commander determine the who, what, when, why, and how. When you understand where and take advantage of that knowledge, you will make better decisions. You will, in many cases, get a sharper, 360-degree view of what’s happening within your area of operations, when and why it’s happening, and who is involved. Continue reading

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Bridging the Gap between IT and OT

GIS: The universal language

To understate the obvious, there appears to be a communication gap in many public works departments between information technology (IT) and what could be called operational technology (OT). However, clear communication between these departments is critical for the successful completion of city projects. Continue reading

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