Category Archives: Vision

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 esriurl.com/scicomm, 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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Evolving the GIS Profession

Four Guidelines for the New GIS Professional

The GIS platform helps you visualize, question, analyze, and interpret data to understand relationships, patterns, and trends. As a GIS professional, you make the GIS platform valuable and successful. You are the champion of geography-based decision making across your organization. You define and drive the adoption and application of spatial technologies.

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How Would You Determine the Value of Open Geospatial Information?

I serve on the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Advisory Board charged with providing independent advice to the US government on GPS-related policy, planning, program management, and funding.  When Lightsquared proposed operating an LTE network in a spectrum adjacent to the GPS spectrum with conditional approval by the FCC, our Board and others raised deep concerns about interference with GPS receivers.  The FCC subsequently revoked the conditional approval.  In anticipation of similar interference in the future, the PNT Executive Committee, made up of nine federal deputy secretaries, decided that, in consideration of the presidential directive to find more broadband spectrum, even if there might be interference with the GPS signal, our Advisory Board should be tasked with documenting the socioeconomic value of GPS services.  The subtle inference was that GPS might be a lesser priority than LTE and broadband access.

So, just how would you document the social and economic benefits provided by GPS?  GPS is used practically everywhere today.  GPS produces direct and indirect economic and social benefits, tangible and intangible.   Expand that thought to include all the geospatial applications in use today such as national security and safety of life.  Then include precision agriculture and water resource management and the use of mapping to improve decision making in emergency management, managing endangered species, conducting property tax assessments and verifying insurance claims.  Add in many more, including the geo-referencing of earth observation and remote sensing data.  Geospatial data is BIG data. Continue reading

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Understanding the Power of Spatial Analysis

Spatial analysis is built in to who we are, and is becoming a common language across organizations

You may not realize it, but you learned about spatial analysis at an early age—probably around the time you started walking. At around two years old, you started to become aware of where you were at any given moment. Soon after that, you started learning how to navigate—from room to room, from inside to outside, and learning how to get from home to school. And at some point, you developed the ability to recognize spatial patterns—a street changed from being safe to dangerous—neighborhoods had their own characteristics.

Spatial analysis is how we understand our world—mapping where things are, how they relate, what it all means, and what actions to take. That’s why whenever we look at maps, we inherently start turning them into instruments for making decisions. Continue reading

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Unleashing the Power of Location in Your Data

Geography just might be the answer to putting big data into context and making it work for everyone

We are all aware that technological advances have increased the size of the data we can capture and manage. I remember reading that approximately 90 percent of all the data in the world today has been created in just that last few years. And more than 75 percent of that data is unstructured, coming from social media, smart phones, text messages, and other sources.

Obviously, the Internet has a lot to do with this explosion of raw data. New industries have been created to help us manage big data, to process it, and to make it consumable. But the real return on investment for organizations is to make big data useful. Continue reading

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Jack Dangermond Speaks about GIS and Resilience at UN Climate Summit

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited world leaders from government, business, and society to the UN Climate Summit 2014 to stimulate action on climate change. He asked them to bring big ideas and messages that could help reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will to hopefully pave the way for a meaningful global agreement in 2015. 

I was deeply honored to be invited to speak about GIS and resilience last week at the UN Climate Summit 2014. Following is a summary of my talk there. 

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Thank you your excellencies and prime ministers, ladies and gentlemen, guests. Thank you very much for allowing me to share a little bit about my work, and also the work that we are working on with the UNISDR, and a number of other organizations here. Continue reading

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What is “Transformative” Research?

The Gartner Group Hype Cycle on Emerging Technologies for 2013 (courtesy of Gartner Inc..

Next-generation techniques are already changing the way we do science. Recently the National Academy of Sciences convened a Workshop on Identifying Transformative Research in the Geographical Sciences. Given that so many of the challenges that we currently face are place-based … Continue reading

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