The Meaning and Value of a Location Platform

Providing spatial functionality across systems and devices empowers organizations.

[Note: This is the latest post in our Managing GIS series.]

“Platform” is a trendy word these days when it comes to discussing technology.  According to Wikipedia, a Computing Platform is:

“…in the most general sense, whatever pre-existing environment a piece of software is designed to run within, obeying its constraints, and making use of its facilities. Typical platforms include a hardware architecture, an operating system (OS), and runtime libraries.”

No matter how you define it, we can all agree that a platform is powerful and can offer a lot in terms of support for business. Continue reading

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GIS to be Showcased at IUCN World Parks Congress

Esri and partners will display real-world solutions that address today’s conservation and development challenges.

Esri and partnering organizations will take part in the2014 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Parks Congress (WPC) which will be held 12-19 November in Sydney, Australia. Esri will be participating in the significant event to explain and promote the concept of GIS for landscape conservation and geodesign, a design framework for designing more sustainable cities and landscapes.

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Strengthening the Link between GIS and Science

An interview with Kevin Butler about the integration of ArcGIS and SciPy

Geography is the science of our world, and GIS is a foundational technology for helping us to better understand that science.  To further strengthen the link between GIS and science, today at the Esri Ocean GIS Forum we’re pleased to announce the integration of ArcGIS with SciPy, a Python-based ecosystem of open-source software for mathematics, science, and engineering.

I recently caught up with Kevin Butler, a Product Engineer with the Geoprocessing and Analysis Team, to ask him a few questions about the integration between ArcGIS and SciPy. Continue reading

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What Does It Take to Build a Smart Community?

With a strong GIS platform, you can begin building a smart community today.

The term smart city has been gaining quite a bit of attention lately. Known by many names—livable communities, sustainable cities, resilient cities, and even smart nation or subsets like safe cities, healthy communities, and coastal resilience—the objectives are fairly similar, that is, to build a government that is more responsive, productive, efficient, transparent, and more engaging with its citizens. At Esri, we have opted to embrace two terms: smart communities and resilient communities. Building smart communities reflects national, state, regional, and local governments’ desire to improve quality of life. Building resilient communities relates to assisting governments in preparing for and recovering from man-made and natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, economic collapse, or climate change. Continue reading

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Demystifying Millennials

While their behaviors confound retailers and marketers, we’re starting to gain a better understanding of what makes this cohort click.

Do you know any Millennials? You might even be a Millennial yourself.

Milliennials are contradictions, alternately described as lazy, entitled, idealistic, close to family, and racially diverse. Pew Research notes that Millennials are not bound to organized politics or religion, support a more activist government, are linked by social media, carry debt, and are optimistic about the future.

Demographers disagree about the exact time frame this huge group encompasses. Some say that Millennials were born between 1982 and sometime in the early 2000s. Pew Research says that Millennials range in age from 18 to 33 years. Continue reading

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I Told You Where I Ate Lunch…What Are You Going to Do with the Data?

Finding a balance between consumers and companies when sharing geolocation information in the age of big data analytics.

Recently we returned from a retail conference where we highlighted to attendees the differences in perception and attitudes they have toward location data, depending on whether they are using it in their personal or professional lives.

This was the type of conference where those big-box and household-name retailers you see every day send their people in charge. They meet and discuss different ways to sort out the massive amounts of data they capture from today’s digital world. Their main purpose? Turn that data into hard results. Continue reading

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Exceeding Your Customers’ Expectations

Increase your customer base by putting actionable information into the hands of people that need it. 

As we’ve already mentioned in our Managing GIS series, the expectations of mapping have changed for both executives and your customers—the consumers of geographic information.  In a government agency, your customers are not just your colleagues, but also the public.  As GIS professionals, we have to adjust to this changing landscape, and in doing so we are provided with new opportunities to make ourselves indispensable by showing the full value that GIS can actually bring to the organization.  And one of the keys to doing this is to increase our customer base by exceeding their expectations.

Several years ago, I was in a meeting with a GIS manager and a CIO.  The Community Planning Director interrupted the meeting briefly and asked the GIS manager for an updated map of foreclosures in the county.  The GIS manager quickly agreed to do this, the director left, and our meeting continued.  It was absolutely all I could do not to stop the director before he left and ask him one important question:

“Why do you need the map?”             Continue reading

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Creating a Bright Future for All Kids through Digital Learning

Just 25 years ago, life was very different for US residents. Few people used e-mail, “the web” was about spiders, and “portable phones” generated more derision than envy. Schools had some Apple IIs, Macs, PCs, or labs, but no school had hundreds of kids with constant access. How things have changed. Now digital learning helps kids whenever, wherever—at least, some kids. In 2013, President Barack Obama launched ConnectED, challenging businesses to help get all US schools into digital learning with more devices, more connectivity, more digital content, and more training for teachers.

In late May 2014, the White House announced Esri’s contribution to ConnectED: ArcGIS Online organizational subscriptions for any K–12 school in the United States. With major support from Amazon Web Services, kids in any US school can make maps and analyze data using powerful, professional web-based GIS, connected anytime and anywhere—on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Continue reading

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The Deadly Backlog: A Hole in the Safety Net

Interactive Maps Communicate Real-time Information to Plug the Holes

We have all heard the term safety net. It’s a system, a policy, a program, or device used to protect its owners just in case something bad happens. For example, people often refer to social security as a safety net for older people who don’t have a pension. The term comes to us from the circus, where large, roped nets are set up below trapeze artists. Without the nets, sweaty palms or small distractions could mean instant death. But with the net, they fall harmlessly and land with only a fright. However, most trapeze artists never want to fall. First of all, falling is a sign of failure. Second, when the term originated, the circus actors didn’t trust the integrity of the net, as circuses had and have notoriously bad maintenance. Safety nets have flaws. Trapeze artists know that. Some nets even have holes. Continue reading

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Making It Stick: Three Truths about Teaching with GIS

In their insightful book about the science of successful learning, Make It StickPeter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel spell out some truths about learning.  In addition, they dispel some preconceived notions that many of us may have about learning that simply aren’t valid.  I believe that three of these truths are instructive as to how we as the GIS community should approach teaching and learning with GIS: learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful, learning requires a foundation of prior knowledge, and putting knowledge into a larger context helps learning.


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