Category Archives: Vision

A Location Strategy versus a GIS Strategy

It has been said many times that every 21st century dataset contains location. Geoenabled databases and systems exist everywhere in business, government, and society. But somehow we are still missing the value of that location data.

In my role as a marketing director at Esri, I meet a lot of people. Usually, they fall into two camps: those who’ve been enjoying the benefits of this GIS technology for decades and those who are new to the world of spatial data, analysis, and GIS.

One of the questions I’m often asked is, What’s the difference between a location strategy and a GIS strategy? The two are close cousins. While a GIS strategy many times refers to the implementation of systems and technology, I see a location strategy as implementing the business of using and understanding location data across an organization. Let me explain. Continue reading

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Six Things that Modern Maps Do

From the dawn of humankind, man has sketched crude abstractions of geography on cave walls and rocks. These early maps documented and communicated important geographic knowledge our ancestors needed to survive.

Fast-forward to 2015. The world has become significantly more complex than it was for our early ancestors. But luckily we now have information technologies at our disposal to help us solve the increasingly complex problems. It’s a natural fit to apply these powerful information technologies to the serious environmental, geographic, and social problems we face. And thus the modern map was born.

Modern maps can be used to tell stories, and apps provide the user experience through which we work with maps and share them. Here are six things that modern maps do to help us address the complex problems we face today. Continue reading

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Go Big Time with Big Data

Big data is measured by volume, velocity, and variety. My colleague and fellow big data lover Mansour Raad recently highlighted how these three measures themselves are increasing almost exponentially in today’s sensored world while talking at one of the commercial business special interest groups (SIGs) during the Esri User Conference (UC).

Big data is expanding at an ever increasing rate. Businesses need to find a way to manage and measure it to be successful.

We no longer store and batch process data. Today, everything is in a stream—a misnomer when we consider the tidal wave of data. We have also become living, breathing, walking, talking sensors thanks to our smart phones and Fitbit-like devices that track us as we are active, eating, and even our sleep. Continue reading

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Esri: Serving Our Users, Advancing GIS and Spatial Literacy

If you could not attend the 2015 User Conference and hear my opening remarks last Monday, I’d like to share a few thoughts about Esri’s role in serving our users as well as advancing GIS and spatial literacy. 


 Our organization is about serving you, our users, with what you need and want. It’s also about advancing GIS and a geographic initiative, promoting, and supporting the notion of “geoenlightenment.”

As an organization, Esri is strong and we’re continuing to grow. We’re dedicated to this. And we’re excited to see what you can accomplish and to watch your work evolve.

Professional Development

We’ve been investing heavily in opportunities for your continued professional development with a number of lifelong learning initiatives. This includes meetings like User Conferences where you can get together with your peers and learn from them as well as share your own best practices. We’ve been investing in more virtual classes and a number of other initiatives such as MOOCs—these massive online learning efforts; Esri Press, now with several hundred books published; technical certifications; and GeoNet, an online community to try to keep the kind of learning and sharing that happens at our User Conferences going all year long, all around the world, for all of our users.

Continue reading

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Empowering GIS Professionals and Transforming Organizations

GIS is evolving, and a whole new pattern is emerging. Web GIS integrates many innovations and provides everyone with the geographic advantage.

If you were not able to attend the 2015 User Conference last week in San Diego and hear my opening remarks on Monday morning, I’d like to share my thoughts about how GIS is evolving. 


GIS is being influenced by and integrating with all kinds of new innovations such as faster computing, big data, the cloud, smart devices, and distributed processing.

At the same time, we are measuring everything that moves and changes on the planet with drones, Lidar, sensors, and other new tools.

These two forces are coming together to provide a platform for a whole new generation of apps. This new pattern is called Web GIS.

Web GIS provides us with a whole new window into our information through applications that are easy, 3D, and analytic. These applications are not just casual things, but reach deep into geographic knowledge and apply it. Continue reading

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Applying Geography Everywhere

The purpose of the Esri User Conference is to get people together and build a network, teach each other, and create understanding.  For those who attended the 2015 User Conference this week in San Diego, I want to thank you for everything you did to help make this year’s conference such a tremendous success.  For those who could not attend, I’d like to take a few minutes to give you an overview of my opening remarks on Monday morning.


This year’s conference theme is “Applying Geography Everywhere.”  And I’d like you to really think about these three words.

The world that you and I live in is increasingly challenged. Population growth, pollution, over-consumption, unsustainable patterns, social conflict, climate change, loss of nature…these are not good stories.

One asks the question of themselves from time to time: “Where’s this going to go? Is this really sustainable?” And clearly it’s not if we continue the patterns that we’re on. Continue reading

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Esri and the Scientific Community: Year in Review/The Year Ahead

Science at Esri continues to be an exciting initiative where we are concerned with supporting both basic and applied science, while also recognizing that there are many major themes of compelling interest to society that will drive scientific research for the next two decades. Thus we view science as helping us to understand not only how the Earth works, but also how the Earth should look (e.g., by way of geodesign), and how we should look at the Earth (i.e., by way of Earth observation in varying forms and the accompanying data science issues of analysis, modeling, developing and documenting useful datasets for science, interoperating between these datasets and between various approaches). In addition to supporting the science community, we seek to do good science at Esri ourselves, as it underpins much of what we do as an organization. This is helping us to evolve ArcGIS into a comprehensive geospatial platform for science; a platform that supports research project management and collaboration, spatial analysis, visualization, open data, and communication of science, all at multiple scales (i.e., from individual researcher to lab workgroup, to multi-department, multi-university, university-to-agency collaboration, to citizen engagement).

You can always track the totality of the Esri science initiative at,Hot! but in this post I’ll share some highlights from 2014, and as we near the end of 2015′s first quarter, talk about the immediate road ahead. Continue reading

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Have I Been a Data Scientist from the Start?

Parallels between the GIScience Community in the Early 1990s and the Current State of Data Science

I came of age in the early 1990s, as the technology driving geographic information systems (GIS) was beginning to successfully “handle” geospatial data at a range of scales and formats, and a wide array of information technology products emerged from an expanding GIS industry.

However, that small community struggled to reflect the diverse research efforts at play in understanding the deeper issues surrounding geospatial data, and the impediments to effective use of that data (see a GIS history timeline).

Deeper issues? Continue reading

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Geography on the World Stage

The convergence of five global trends—geo-awareness, geo-enablement, geotechnologies, citizen science, and storytelling—has the potential to offer geography a world audience.

Five converging global trends may present geography with world attention that may be unprecedented in the history of the discipline. These include geo-awareness, geo-enablement, geotechnologies, citizen science, and storytelling. Each of these recent trends is transforming the audience for geography and how geography is taught, perceived, and used.

Issues central to geography are now part of the global consciousness. Everyday objects are rapidly becoming locatable, and thus able to be monitored and mapped. Many tools and data sets that were formerly used and examined only by geographers and other earth and environmental scientists are now in the hands of the general public. Citizens outside academia are becoming involved in contributing data to the scientific community. Multimedia and cloud-based GIS have greatly multiplied the attraction that maps have had for centuries to tell stories. Continue reading

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Learn More and Earn More

“Do your homework, study hard, and make good grades.” We all probably heard those instructions many times during our school years. When viewing the relationship between educational attainment and earning power, this advice can be validated by cold, hard facts. According to the 2014, 4th quarter report, The Usual Weekly Earnings of Wage and Salary Workers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, full-time workers age 25 and older with no high school diploma earned a weekly median wage of less than $500, compared to $664 for high school graduates with no college, and $1,224 for those holding at least a Bachelor’s degree. Continue reading

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