Category Archives: Industry Focus

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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GIS in Education: Beyond Instruction

Expanding GIS use throughout educational institutions

Typically when people reflect on the incorporation of GIS technology in education, the picture that comes to mind is framed by classroom instruction and research—for instance, a high school world geography class, a community college GIS certificate program, a university urban planning course, and basic scientific investigation that advances knowledge. These and other areas of academic and career instruction and research do, in fact, represent the lion’s share of the GIS activity occurring within educational institutions, and which is vital to fostering successive generations of geospatial leaders and problem solvers. However, these are not the only settings where GIS is providing an essential service within educational entities. Continue reading

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Big Data—A Banking Boom or Bust?

Location-based insight

Business data is growing at such a rate that many organizations can become overwhelmed by the big data problem. A recent McKinsey, IDC, and Department of Labor Statistics analysis [PDF] of data in business found that financial/securities organizations have 3.8 petabytes per firm—that’s more than 400 million gigabytes, or about 12.5 million iPads, per company! Banking comes in a distant second with 1.9 PB. This puts big data found in financial services companies into perspective since this is even greater than most communications and media companies’ average of 1.8 PB. Continue reading

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Can Government Improve Its Image?

Restoring trust in government

The growing distrust and poor image associated with government continue. As a result, I see citizens asking more and more questions of their government and wanting leaders to hear their voices. The citizens I hear are speaking loudly and growing in number. They want to know how their tax dollars are being allocated. They want to find out if corruption in a neighboring jurisdiction is also happening in their backyards. In the absence of effective government forums, disruptive apps are providing a place for these citizens to communicate with each other. Continue reading

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GeoDesign for Climate Change Adaptation

Designing a more sustainable future

The earth’s climate is changing, leading to serious problems for humanity in areas such as food security, health, and public safety.

As our environment changes around us, we need to adapt swiftly. But where do we start? Should we reinforce or rebuild existing structures? Or should we abandon existing settlements and relocate the population in some cases? And how can mass rebuilding/relocation efforts be best accomplished from human, environmental, and economic perspectives? Continue reading

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Facing the Challenge of Aging Infrastructure

The right tool for the job

In 2009, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave America’s infrastructure a “D.” When most of America’s infrastructure was originally built, the country was in a growth mode and engineered every specific project to be optimal before moving on, not always understanding the mechanics of the complete system—how the various projects or components worked together and how they affected each other at a more regional scale. To add to this complacency, underground infrastructure also suffered from the adage “out of sight, out of mind.” Today, with our limited budgets and declining workforce, we are experiencing the results of this oversight. We understand that infrastructure decays due to in situ conditions and operational extremes, material degradation and manufacturing defects, and dynamic loads not taken into account in the original design. We now know that skipped maintenance schedules shorten the life expectancy of our assets. Entire systems are being brought down by their weakest links. Continue reading

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LightSquared: Man-Made Solar Flares?

High-accuracy GPS is at risk

Solar flares are naturally occurring explosions that occur on the sun’s surface from energy, suddenly released, that is stored in twisted magnetic fields. Solar flares produce a burst of radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum and disrupt some electromagnetic instruments on earth. The sun is currently at the peak of an 11-year cycle of solar flares. You may have noticed GPS interference while out on the job recently. Solar flares are the probable cause of this interference. Continue reading

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