Category Archives: Industry Focus

Retail GIS—Localization, Not Just Location

The importance of knowing your neighbor

Dorothy, this isn’t Kansas anymore. It could be Anytown, USA. On my last trip to Kansas, it wasn’t the wheat fields or flatness that amazed me but the repetitive retail landscape. It seemed that every town was a clone of the one I had just left—the same restaurant chains, grocers, drugstores, and general merchants. Was it an unholy alliance? Had real estate developers, government, and retailers reached perfect agreement on what every town needed and limited the choice to a small menu of options? However, the more I looked, the more I found exceptions. The harder I tried to quantify the way towns were similar to each other, the more I noticed the differences and came away knowing that local flavors dominate. Continue reading

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Transportation GIS: Promise and Reality

GIS promise and DOT asset management reality

Those of us in the GIS community take it for granted that the incorporation of GIS enriches effective asset management practices, to the point where we find it difficult to understand how good asset management could be practiced without GIS. In reality however, most departments of transportation (DOTs) report only limited success in both good asset management practice and incorporating GIS into their asset management practices. So, why the gap between promise and reality? Continue reading

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Building a Knowledge Infrastructure for Utilities

Preserving institutional knowledge

When I ran an electric utility operations division, one of my favorite employees was a guy named Stanley. Stanley started as a line worker; climbed poles; became a foreman, later a supervisor; then managed all the crews in the region. I remember how Stanley worked. Continue reading

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Gov 2.0 — Envisioning the Future of Delivering Government Services

Restoring Trust in Government

A considerable amount of my workday is devoted to studying and strategizing around the Gov 2.0 trends. I have come to recognize that there are two distinct communities that approach the topic from completely different worlds. Continue reading

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The Case for Place in Twenty-First Century Policing

Tradition Versus Today’s Reality

In my 30 years in law enforcement and the subsequent 12 years working with law enforcement agencies around the world, I have become familiar with a number of different modern policing concepts taking root in agencies big and small. These include community policing, problem-oriented policing, predictive policing, and evidenced-based policing. More recently, I have been intrigued by the concepts of place-based policing and the writings of Dr. David Weisburd of George Mason University. Continue reading

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Geography Can Provide Better Banking Services

Our Failed Financial Institutions Need to Meet Their Community Covenant

We dodged a bullet. The global economic meltdown, which saw 140 banking organizations closed in the U.S. in 2009, has affected every industry and sector of life. Governments spent billions trying to correct systemic failures that began with the subprime mortgage crisis and led to a vicious cycle of reduced credit, business bankruptcy, and soaring unemployment. A 1930s-style depression was avoided at great cost to our public and private financial systems, but it could have been much worse. Continue reading

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National Land Parcel Data and Surveyors

Will Surveyors Heed the Call?

I recently finished reading National Land Parcel Data: A Vision for the Future, and I think it serves as a call to action for all surveyors. The book articulates the demand for a good national parcel database, including some excellent policy discussion on how to get started and how to make progress. Every surveyor who plans to work for the next 10 years should read this book. Continue reading

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Climate Change Is a Geographic Problem

Climate Change Is a Geographic Problem

Reducing the risks caused by climate change is an immense challenge. Scientists, policy makers, developers, engineers, and many others have used GIS to better understand a complex situation and offer some tangible solutions. Technology offers a means to assess, plan, and implement sustainable programs that can affect us 10, 20, and 100 years into the future. Continue reading

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Smart Grid Solves Many Problems, Introduces Others

GIS can help you answer tough smart grid questions

Smart grid is about four things:

  • Smart meters—Smart grid gives us more information about the energy we use. Smart meters will help us use less energy. Consequently, we will save money and reduce our carbon footprints.
  • Better electric reliability—Our electric infrastructure is old and fallible. Smart grid includes smart sensors to help utilities locate problems and help the electric utility grid heal itself.
  • Making green energy work—Solar and wind power are quite different from the traditional sources of electricity such as hydro, coal, natural gas, and nuclear. Like the weather, green resources are unpredictable. Smart grid will work to regulate the ebb and flow of renewable energy.
  • Smart grid phone home—By tapping telecommunication networks, smart grid will alert utilities to problems before they even happen. Continue reading
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Health 2.0: Place-Based Intelligence

Are you ready for geo-accounting?

The winds of change are blowing. A White House memo [PDF] recently sent to all executive department heads and agencies provides policy principles for submitting future agency budgets. This memo calls for place-based considerations in 2011 budgets. Picking up on the theme that “everything happens somewhere,” the Obama administration has connected the dots! Continue reading

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