Category Archives: Industry Focus

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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The Changing Face of Mapping Organizations

Riding the wave of new technologies and trends

The map, chart and data production (MAPS) industry is being revolutionized by changes in technology, societal trends, and the mapping community itself. This wave of change is not only reshaping the MAPS industry landscape, but providing new opportunities. Continue reading

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Improving the Claims Management Process

Integrating intelligent maps

As the single largest expense for P&C carriers, the claims management process is a focal point in driving improved customer satisfaction and increased underwriting profits. In fact, a recent study by Deloitte shows that a single percentage point improvement in claims costs could return significant savings for insurers. Continue reading

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Citizen Engagement: Applied Gov 2.0

Reinventing government

Ever since Tim O’Reilly captured our imagination with the term “Government 2.0,” the world has scrambled to understand its true meaning. Some dismissed the idea as a passing fad. But much like Al Gore’s “Reinventing Government” initiative, it moved us toward an ideal. Early Gov 2.0 efforts sought to define this concept and understand how it could alter the reinvention of government. Since Gov 2.0 is grounded in Web 2.0 technology, startups and traditional companies explored how they could fit into the grand scheme of things. The concept was given a boost when politicians as high ranking as President Obama challenged governments to enhance civic engagement. Could we turn even large cities like Singapore, Boston, or Seattle into communities whose citizens have a strong role in shaping the future? Continue reading

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Accessing Historical and Current Remotely Sensed Data

Managing data for internal and public use

It was the military and large corporations such as oil and mineral exploration companies that first saw the value in imagery. This launched a new industry bent on acquiring the most accurate, highest resolution imagery with newer satellites, aerial sensors, photogrammetric equipment and specialized software, to help interpret the images. Continue reading

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Spatial Analysis Helps Utilities Manage Risk

Creating a better risk model

When dealing with the complex infrastructure of an electric, gas or water utility system, things often go wrong. Things go wrong because there are so many factors that can contribute to a problem. Utility operators face an enormous task. They must gather accurate and timely data, understand the relative importance of each factor, and determine relative risk of damage to the system. Once utility risk is understood, a rational mitigation and investment strategy can be developed. Most utilities are able to prioritize maintenance and replacement projects based on factors such as equipment age, and the history of maintenance, operation, and failure. Continue reading

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Matching Your Home to Your Lifestyle

The perfect home may be a hot spot away

Ocean breezes; able to walk to shops and public transport; stunning mountain views. These aren’t phrases for advertising a holiday getaway—they are descriptions used to sell houses I’ve bought. Continue reading

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Safer Roads Through Effective Traffic Safety Management

Empowering safety engineers

U.S. efforts to improve traffic safety have delivered considerable progress over the last five years. From 2005 to 2009, traffic fatalities have declined over 21%. The fatality rate has dropped from 1.46 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled, to 1.13 – the lowest rate since 1954. While this success can be attributed to a variety of factors, the focus on safety by State Departments of Transportations (DOT) and State Offices of Public Safety certainly deserves some of the credit.

I believe there are four key areas where GIS has, and will continue to assist safety engineers in reducing traffic crashes and fatalities: Continue reading

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Opening the Redistricting Process to Citizens

If you build it, will they come?

If one questioned the general public about redistricting, as a Pew survey did in 2006, one would find only modest awareness of the topic and generally negative opinions of the current process. This comes as no surprise to those who observed the 2010 elections and follow trends in open government and transparency. Citizens are less inclined to trust their elected officials than ever before, and the redistricting exercises this spring may provide further grounds for discontent. Continue reading

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