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.

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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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Seven Ways GIS Enables Smart Communities

Leaders can leverage GIS to get a complete picture by viewing, mapping, sharing, analyzing, and acting on information about their community.

To get a clear view, community leaders must seek first to understand:

  • What and where are the community’s needs?
  • What is the status of available resources?

Smart communities are already getting a comprehensive view of needs and resources by using GIS and even incorporating realtime sensor data and 3D visualization. Citizens and businesses are using open data and increased governmental transparency to collaborate and drive innovation. When you can see the entire, community-wide landscape, it is much easier to identify gaps in service or areas that need to become more livable, sustainable, and resilient. That clear view can be seen from a GIS platform — a way to view, map, share, analyze, and act on information about the community. Continue reading

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Building a Bridge to the R Community

Today at the Esri User Conference in San Diego, Esri announced a new initiative to build a collaborative community for R and ArcGIS users.

Esri has been teaching and promoting integration with R at the User Conference and Developer Summit for several years. During this time we have seen significant increase in interest, and received useful feedback from our ArcGIS users and R users about a variety of needs and techniques for integrating ArcGIS and R. Based upon this feedback, we are working with ArcGIS and R users to develop a community to promote learning, sharing, and collaboration. This community will include a repository of free, open source, R scripts, geoprocessing tools, and tutorials.

I recently sat down with Steve Kopp, Senior Product Engineer on the spatial analysis team, and Dawn Wright, Esri’s Chief Scientist to talk about what this focus on building a bridge to the R community means for ArcGIS users and other users of R. Continue reading

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Applying Geography Everywhere: Ten Big Ideas

A new hands-on website and a print book help seasoned GIS practitioners and newcomers to GIS learn to make GIS web maps, work with mobile apps, and much more.

Cover image courtesy Stamen Design.

People around the world are discovering that online maps do more than direct consumers to stores or help travelers navigate from point A to point B. Maps communicate important information that help organizations make decisions. That’s why Esri published The ArcGIS Book, an easy to comprehend guide to learning 10 big ideas about web mapping and how to use the Esri ArcGIS platform to put those ideas into action.

The ten big ideas explored in The ArcGIS Book are:

  1. Maps, the Web, and You: Power and possibility with Web GIS
  2. Cartography is for Everyone: New ways to make, see, and use maps
  3. Tell Your Story Using a Map: Inform, engage, and inspire people with story maps
  4. Great Maps Need Great Data: Creating and using authoritative geographic data
  5. The Importance of Where: How spatial analysis leads to insight
  6. Mapping the Third Dimension: A change in perspective
  7. The Power of Apps: Focused tools that get work done
  8. Your Mobile GIS: The GIS of the whole world plus a live data sensor in your pocket
  9. Real-Time Dashboards: Integrating live data feeds for managing operations
  10. GIS is Social: Web GIS is the GIS of the world

Continue reading

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Smart Communities: Meeting the Challenges

New advancements in technology and data collection can help communities successfully tackle challenges by working smarter instead of harder.


Demographic, economic, and other changes are presenting communities with unprecedented challenges and opportunities. And there are reasons to be hopeful. A combination of smart technology and smart people can drive the development of smart communities. 


Change is a Constant

Demographic shifts and fiscal fluctuations impact communities around the globe, prompting community leaders to adapt by changing the way they think and operate. Continue reading

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Smart Policies Lead to Smart Nations

Maps help policy makers consider all aspects of issues and communicate their positions to fellow government leaders and citizens.

Policies reflect a nation’s identity—its values and ambitions. In our modern, interconnected world, understanding policy issues and making the right decisions are critical to creating a sustainable world. When it comes to issues like climate change, use of natural resources, energy, healthcare, and economic growth, policy makers need a way to see all of the factors at play and potential impacts. How will their decisions impact people today and 10 years from now? As leaders from all levels of government consider key issues, they are turning to GIS.

Unlike any other technology, GIS takes big data and makes it easy to understand. Maps can show where money is being spent—is it going to areas of greatest need or to well-heeled neighborhoods? Maps can show where resources are harvested and how that impacts surrounding lands. Maps helps policy makers consider all aspects of issues. Once they have a deep understanding of an issue and take a stance, maps help them communicate their position to fellow government leaders and citizens. Continue reading

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Journalists Embrace Story Maps

Advancements in mapping and GIS technology have created a new medium for interactive storytelling and reconnecting people to place.

Maps have long been a valuable tool used by journalists to illustrate and enhance written stories. And with new advancements in mapping and GIS technology, the use of maps in the media now has even more potential for engaging with audiences.

Story maps let you combine authoritative maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content. They make it easy to harness the power of maps and geography to tell your story.

Journalists are already starting to embrace story maps as a powerful new medium that lets them tell engaging stories.  And it’s easy, too. There’s absolutely no programming required to build a story map: simply choose the best application template for telling your story and start building it interactively.

Let’s take a look at how some journalists have leveraged the power of story maps to help tell their stories. Continue reading

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What Do Americans Do on the Fourth of July Weekend?

They get outdoors, fire up the grill, find great sales, and watch fireworks, presenting a great opportunity for US businesses.

The Fourth of July weekend is a popular weekend for families to start celebrating summer. Many families go hiking, camping, picnicking, hit the beach, grill outdoors, snag the best shopping deals and discounts, and see fireworks. Businesses that attract people’s attention and provide the must-haves for these summer activities often see an increase in business. But how do you get the attention of a busy shopper on the go, who is already bombarded with deals and offers before summer even starts? You need data intelligence to learn more about people’s behaviors and lifestyle choices so you can send the right deal at the right time. You need to answer questions such as: Where are the outdoorsy people? Where do the consumers live who spend the most on grilling essentials? Where are the best ZIP codes to target for direct mail coupons? Using Esri’s demographics and lifestyles data in Business Analyst Online, you can easily and quickly answer these questions. Let’s take a look: Continue reading

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Rip Up Those Old Paper Maps

Pop quiz! What’s the difference between a paper GIS and a digital GIS display?

“You can fold the paper plot, but you can’t fold the display.” That’s the most common answer. That’s also the problem.

Many people still view GIS displays as less convenient ways to see GIS plots. When I worked for a power company, we built special cabinets in the dispatch center just to hold our medium-voltage operating map sheets. That’s because we’d plotted our sheets on nonstandard sizes, so the standard file cabinets didn’t work. When we converted from our old, hand-drawn operating maps to GIS maps, we just plotted the new map sheets to look exactly like the old ones. And we plotted them on the same size paper as the old paper maps. Why? So they could fit in our custom file cabinets. If we could have recreated coffee stains on the GIS plots, we would have. Everything—the symbols, annotation, line weights, and of course plot sizes—were the same on the new as on the old map sheets.

Our underlying basemap grid was also a throwback to some arbitrary system from early in the previous century. Change it? Get out of town! Continue reading

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It All Comes Down to Communication

Five story maps show how governments can increase awareness and inform the public on matters of resilience and sustainability.

“It all comes down to communication,” I thought to myself as I imbibed the words of mayors and other elected officials at the National League of Cities’ Resilient Cities Summit this past May.

For two days, I had the pleasure of listening to eighteen city mayors and executives express their desires for their cities to be more sustainable and resilient.  They also articulated their frustrations about the roadblocks that seemed to inevitably arise.  I came away with little desire to ever be an elected official (tough job!), but also with a strong desire to help them.  But how? Continue reading

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