Category Archives: Industry Focus

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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Meeting a Titanic Challenge for Oceans

What have we learned after 100 years?

On April 15, 1912, more than 1,500 passengers and crew aboard the RMS Titanic perished at sea in one of the most infamous maritime disasters in all of human history. She was the largest ship afloat at the time, but the location of her wreckage remained a mystery until 1985. Many have seen similarities between the sinking of Titanic and the struggles of the gigantic cruise ship Costa Concordia, which ran aground off the coast of Italy almost 100 years later. Continue reading

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Enabling Better Decision Making Among DOTs

Integrating enterprise data

For many Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and roadway agencies, the days of rapid highway construction have passed. DOTs now primarily focus on preserving existing investments and maximizing the performance of built infrastructure. Effective decision making with respect to the mix of operational improvements, investments to advance safety, and maintenance spending requires access to a wealth of information to help drive these decisions. And while almost all of this data is available within these larger organizations, few have been successful at bringing that information together in ways that could help foster more intelligent decision making. Continue reading

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