Turning big data into knowledge is all about relevance and context
Big data may be all the rage these days, but it isn’t exactly new. In fact, Esri has been dealing with big data since the inception of digital mapping more than three decades ago. When every contour, stream, street, rail line, park, building, or shoreline for the entire world is stored in an intelligent database, data doesn’t get much bigger than that.
Data as Big, Beautiful, and Living as the Earth
Back in 1992, Esri embarked on an ambitious campaign to create the very first seamless digital map and database of the whole world. This project—aptly named the Digital Chart of the World—converted paper maps of political boundaries, transportation lines, utilities, cultural landmarks, and more into a digital map product that could be viewed for the first time as something other than a pretty picture. In a world where CDs were still considered new and expensive storage media, and hard drives came in hundreds of megabytes, the 1.7 gigabyte database was not only huge, but it also challenged many computer specification and storage architectures. Continue reading
To address private sector competition, organizations need a strong platform to support customer needs.
While national map, chart, and data production (MAPS) organizations have long been recognized as the source of authoritative maps and mapping data, they are currently struggling to retain that unique position and, consequently, their funding, due to increased competition from the private sector.
Commercial map providers not only have the ability to quickly collect mapping data but also to package and distribute it in a way that resonates with businesses and government agencies. Because these commercial map providers are able to bring together data and services and deliver them on the Internet and in mobile environments, customers expect the same capabilities from their national MAPS organizations. MAPS organizations must move from solely being data providers to integrating and delivering information products including maps, data, web services, and apps, using a common platform delivered through Web GIS. Continue reading
Firewalls protect web-based GIS from the dangers of the cloud
When I was interning at a power company, the utility industry had just adopted a revolutionary technology: SCADA. Today, SCADA is so common most people don’t even bother to spell out the acronym (supervisory control and data acquisition system). But back then, SCADA was controversial. It eliminated the need for substation operators.
Utilities staffed operators who could act immediately in an emergency. They closed breakers, put out fires, and called for help. They checked fluid levels and did maintenance, cleaning, and inspections. They made the rounds, took the readings, spoke to the dispatchers, and made sure everything ran smoothly. Continue reading
The US Geological Survey (USGS) and Esri are pleased to announce the publication of the most detailed global ecological land units map in the world. This exciting new global data set provides a science platform for better understanding and accounting of the world’s resources. Scientists, land managers, conservationists, developers, and the public will use this map to improve regional, national, and global resource management, planning, and decision making.
Ecological Tapestry of the World online explorer application: Explore the ecological data behind the land unit map and begin planning how it can be used in your work.
Location analytics gives global manufacturers new visibility into each stop on the way to the shopper
When pork was found in Ikea’s moose lasagna in Europe, as you can imagine, this had significant ramifications with both the Jewish and Islamic communities.
Cadbury suffered a major brand debacle because swine DNA was found in candy bars for sale in Malaysia—a predominantly Muslim nation.
Then of course, the yuck factor, otherwise known as food fraud: horsemeat in beef products throughout Europe, the fact that most of the olive oil, honey, and maple syrup is not what it says it is.
What if we could see every touch point and monitor all the processes that are necessary at this vast global scale to get that chicken nugget safely from a meat packing plant to your toddler’s table? Continue reading
Asking questions and developing answers using a common vocabulary leads to better decision making.
As discussed in a previous post, spatial analysis can be viewed as a kind of common language used across an organization. It starts with a set of questions, such as Where are things located in the world?, What is nearby?, and How are things connected?, and then sets about answering those questions by leveraging the power of GIS.
Imagine a bank with a number of different branch locations, along with locations of all the customers they service in a specific geographic region. The bank can use spatial analysis to better balance its service to these customers based on drive time analysis and delineate geographic areas with similar capacity. Continue reading
From centralized to distributed operations, choosing the right architecture pattern for your GIS can improve user productivity and reduce operational costs.
[Note: This is latest post in our series about Managing GIS.]
There are benefits of centralized operations, and there are some reasons why distributed operations may be preferred by some organizations. We can find reasons why a distributed operation may work better than a centralized one. Distributed operations require more hardware, higher administration cost, higher implementation risk, more data access problems (to centralized data sources), and reduced security. Selecting the right architecture pattern to best meet your business needs can improve user productivity and reduce operational costs. Continue reading
From custom beginnings to templatization: The evolution of a Story Map template
Story Maps can inform and inspire your audience. They combine interactive maps and multimedia content into elegant user experiences. One of the latest Story Maps—Geography Bee: A Global Gallery of Pollinators—uses the context of geography to present a spectacular collection of bee portraits by USGS scientist Sam Droege.
GeoServices provide a common API across all of GIS for users and developers to easily access information.
Today is GIS Day, an annual celebration and sharing to our communities about the use of geospatial technology to understand, affect, and engage with our physical world. You can join any of hundreds of local events around the globe to meet local experts, developers, analysts, government staff, and engaged citizens to learn about how to access open data and spatial analysis tools that help you make sense of complex relationships.
At the interface of GIS is a commonly overlooked, but incredibly powerful mechanism that makes it possible to uniformly access data regardless of the underlying technology or source of the data. It is this interface which allows for a smartphone application to work with web sites and desktop analysis tools—meaning that people can use the user experience that most fits their needs but they are working from the same common information system.
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