Thematic Mapping with Hexagons

Want to be “in” the cool club?  Use hexagons to visualize your data.

Over the last few years we’ve seen more and more maps that use hexagons.  They have become “cool”.  Why is that?  Well, hexagons and other regularly shaped features allow you to normalize geography for thematic mapping rather than be constrained to using irregular shaped polygons created from a political process (for example, county boundaries, census tracts, zip codes, etc.).  And this is VERY useful because of the massive disparity in some of these shapes.

For instance, if you create a thematic map using US counties, the county where I live disproportionately stands out as it the largest county in the US and is 20,105 square miles (52,070 km2), or slightly larger than the states of New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island combined.  Using appropriately sized regularly spaced shapes helps solve this disparity of perception.

Left: Population Density show with Counties. Right: Population Density shown with Hexagons.

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Understanding ArcGIS Pro

Esri’s ArcGIS Pro has reinvented desktop GIS. That may seem like a bold statement, but when you understand why it was built, you see that it is true. It was designed and built from the ground up to fit the needs of the modern GIS professional based on input from the GIS community. In order to meet the requirements that were put forth by the worldwide community, Esri had to start fresh with a completely new architecture and lay a solid foundation that would allow performance and experience to be the guide. This is why a new application was needed, a reinvention based on your ideas and needs, and this is why ArcGIS Pro exists.

ArcGIS Pro is a truly 64-bit desktop application that takes advantage of your modern hardware for maximum performance and smooth map and 3D scene displays. It has a vibrant, contextual interface that serves you with the right tools at the right time, and anyone who has spent time looking for tools knows, this is fantastic. You can now do exciting new things like design and edit in 2D and 3D in one place, work with multiple displays and layout designs, and publish finished web maps directly to ArcGIS Online or Portal for ArcGIS. 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 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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3 Ways to Approach Community Engagement with GIS

Geography can serve as a starting point for building strong, long-lasting relationships with communities.

“Our business is about building friendships and enduring relationships. The culture of our agency is merely a reflection of the work we do.”

—Larry Norris, CEO of Lewis Communications, Matthew Porter, Lewis Communications: “Putting People First,” Communication Arts, March/April 2015.

Have you ever been walking through your neighborhood and seen a geyser of water shooting up from a broken sprinkler head, or a fallen tree branch lying in the middle of the street, or a tagger’s graffiti scrawled across a bus stop shelter, and wondered how you could notify the right people to come and take care of it? It’s common that people lack the tools to facilitate community engagement.

Geography can serve as a starting point for building a community engagement strategy. And, GIS technology can provide you with the tools you need to accomplish it. Maps and spatial analytics form a sort of universal translator that allows us, as individuals, living and working in communities, to build strong, long-lasting relationships with other people in other communities simply by sharing geographic information. Continue reading

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16 Things We Can Do to Increase Geoliteracy

Many of the big issues the world is facing today are fundamentally tied to space and place—they are geographic issues. To grapple with these issues requires a population that can assess and use geographic information to make wise decisions—in short, a geoliterate population. Creating a geoliterate population requires cultivation in three essential areas: core content, geographic tools, and the geographic perspective.

Core content. While core content is important, it is often maligned, perhaps because it is often equated with memorization of facts for examinations. Geography’s core content is richer than mere facts—and much of it is systems thinking: ecosystems, and systems of climate, culture, watersheds, oceans, land use, governments, and many more. Core content focuses include learning about natural phenomena such as how ocean currents affect climate, and cultural phenomena, such as sense of place.

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5 Tips to Help Maximize Your Use of ArcGIS Online

ArcGIS Online gives you everything you need to create interactive web maps and apps that you can share with anyone. With ready-to-use content, apps, and templates, you can be productive right away. From sharing your work with others to preventing accidental deletion of items and more, here are five helpful tips from Esri pros that will help you maximize your use of ArcGIS Online.


1. Get Your Story Map Noticed

You’ve worked hard to make a great Esri Story Map app. But now you want to make it easy for people, including Esri’s Story Map team, to find your work online.

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Map Gives New Insights into Global Population

Esri’s World Population Estimate, a new probability surface that estimates the location and count of people throughout the world, is now available in ArcGIS Online.

Esri has been producing a global population estimate in ArcGIS Online for several years. This data is in the form of point features with population counts and characteristics assigned to each point; and it is used behind the scenes in apps such as Business Analyst Online, Community Analyst, and Esri Maps Apps. That may sound simple, but those points are big data; with nearly a billion locations represented. The Geographic Data Enrichment tools depend on those points as the basis for describing the characteristics of local populations in countries lacking a census or countries that do not make detailed census data available.

World Population Estimate map for Jakarta, Indonesia.

Based on this earlier point data work, Esri released the World Population Estimate (WPE) in December 2014. WPE takes the form of a raster surface, which is far easier to make available in ArcGIS Online and use in analysis models than the previous point data. Continue reading

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Enter the Esri Data Viz App Challenge

Have an idea for a cool app that showcases data visualization using the ArcGIS platform? Develop the app and enter it in the Esri Data Viz App Challenge, which was announced at the 2015 Esri Developer Summit.

The judges will be looking for visually stunning, interactive, and meaningful mapping applications that showcase the data visualization power of ArcGIS and tell a story. The top prize is $10,000 or the software equivalent. The competition closes at 5:00 p.m. (PDT) April 27, 2015.

Get all the details at esri.com.appchallenge.

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2015 Esri Developer Summit: Helping Developers Build Top Quality Geospatial Solutions

Geosolutions are desperately needed to solve the world’s big problems, Esri president Jack Dangermond told 1,800 people at the 2015 Esri Developer Summit (DevSummit). Esri and the developer community can work cooperatively to build technology to tackle these issues, he said.

More creative developers are needed to forge solutions, Dangermond said, encouraging the audience to nurture new talent by being a mentor.  “The interest we have is growing the next generation—we need more of you,” he said, opening the largest annual Esri developer event, which was held March 10-13 in Palm Springs, California.

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Killing Old Habits

To stay profitable and transform business, utilities must break with old habits.

There’s a well-known saying that goes, “Old habits die hard.” All my life, I’ve struggled to manage my weight. I’ve probably lost 1,000 pounds in my life, but the problem is I’ve gained 1,050 pounds. If I really wanted to lose weight permanently, I would kill off my old bad habits for good, not just suspend them for a while during the diet and then bring them back again as soon as I lose enough weight. To really transform yourself, old, negative habits must die.

Electric companies are going through huge change. Regulators insist on unbundling utility components: generation, transmission, distribution, and retail services. In the old days of vertical integration, electric companies could make money on the strength of their business diversity. Today that’s less so. And to make matters worse, energy delivery,  transmission and distribution (T&D), faces lots of unknowns, including weather, theft, vandalism, terrorism, and public scrutiny.

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