Category Archives: Industry Focus
The goal of sustainable planning, policies, and governance is to design processes that return our planet to a more balanced level of use. To do so we must realign our values and earth’s ability to support them. The success of this effort is dependent upon a foundation of science, a means of collaboration, and the implementation of sustainable polices and administration. GIS is an essential tool for designing and implementing sustainable processes at a scale ranging from local to global.
People around the world continue to compile scientific data about resources, ecosystems, and human impact. GIS enables us to visualize and analyze these massive collections of data. Establishing a base for determining cause and effect, GIS tracks ecological change and provides chains of evidence of human impact. It tracks people’s land use, methods of resource extraction, and peripheral activities, such as supporting road networks. GIS manages large databases, depicts and prioritizes problems, models scenarios of both positive and negative practices, and predicts environmental outcomes. It provides the quantified information and analytical capabilities required for making location-based decisions that increase economic efficiencies and reduce consumption and contamination.
If you are a geography educator or GIS professional, you might say that “spatial thinking” is a way of reasoning about the world, facilitated by maps. However, if you are a science educator whose students need to make sense of 3-D molecular models or of cross-sections of a plant, “spatial thinking” is likely to mean something quite different. So too for cognitive psychologists who employ experimental methods to understand how people learn.
A recent Specialist Meeting on “Spatial Thinking across the College Curriculum” highlighted these different perspectives. The meeting’s purpose was to “identify the current state of our understanding of spatial thinking, identify gaps in our knowledge, and identify priorities for both research and practice in educating spatial thinkers at the college level.” Forty-three thought leaders were invited to participate, including those from Geography and GIScience, cognitive and developmental psychology, research librarians, and science education, history, landscape architecture, philosophy, and political science. Continue reading
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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