Anyone who has participated in the annual Esri International User Conference or has pored over the annual Esri Map Book knows that geography and science touch our lives every day. It is incumbent upon we GIS professionals, and others we inspire, to clearly communicate the value and benefits of careers working with geospatial technologies. And this year’s Earth Science Week offers a great opportunity for the GIS community to come together and promote geospatial career pathways.
As we look at the current state of the world, imagine the future, and recognize that we and others must jump into the breach to tackle everything from local matters to global predicaments, we have always seen GIS and a geographic perspective as essential to helping steward local communities and the planet. This very much includes the geosciences community—from people seeking to solve energy sustainability issues to those helping ensure our planetary ecological footprint is softer to those contending with interrelated ocean and atmosphere changes. The Esri Education Program, a 20-year proponent of the use of geospatial technology in science education, has been attentive to this. Another great step forward is getting the geospatial industry to embrace and actively promote Earth Science Week and advance the geosciences career pathway.
A leapfrog opportunity
Despite the digital revolution, many public works departments are still in the paper age. Typically, these departments serve smaller communities and have yet to adopt GIS technology for a variety of reasons, including cost and complexity. The steps in implementing a traditional GIS include buying a system; converting paper basemaps; adding infrastructure layers such as roads, pipes, and wires; building applications; and training users, all of which is often too resource intensive. Cloud-based GIS removes these barriers. Continue reading
Researchers today need to deal with an avalanche of data—from environmental sensor networks (both on land and at sea), social media feeds, LiDAR, and outputs from global- and regional-scale atmospheric circulation and general climate models and simulations. Because of this, “big data” is emerging as a major research theme for the academic community.
I recently had the opportunity to attend GIScience 2012, which is convened every two years and brings together leading researchers from around the world to reflect on a wide spectrum of geographic information science research areas. Attendees are normally university academics and graduate students working in the areas of geography, computer science, information science, cognitive science, mathematics, philosophy, psychology, social science, environmental sciences, and spatial statistics.
GIS technology has evolved from a tool for specialized professionals to a platform that can be used “by everyone.” An important component of this more far-reaching platform is the development and release of Solution Templates that are designed to facilitate GIS throughout the organization.
“Our goal is to provide things that help people be successful,” said Damian Spangrud, Esri’s new Director of Solutions. “But the landscape is changing—the types of people we are serving, how they are using our technology, and even the definition of what is ‘success’— everything is changing. As we started to think about where GIS fits in this new landscape, the questions we started asking ourselves were: What kinds of things can we give people so that they can tailor their ArcGIS system to be more successful? And how can we help them share their GIS investment with everyone across the organization?”
Optimizing the network investment
Today’s telecommunications networks involve a growing number of choices of technologies for use in the outside plant. To accommodate varying technologies, engineers need new tools for planning and design. Fiber optics and wireless technology have revolutionized the local telecommunications network. Over the last two decades, fiber has transitioned from backbone and long-haul transmission lines to the local loop and become critical to delivering broadband. Wireless continues to evolve into a replacement for traditional landline service, and with the explosion of smartphones, wireless itself is becoming a medium for broadband data delivery. Continue reading
Some events, like birthdays, weddings, and graduations, are easy to mark on the calendar. Others, like the beginning of a social movement, or a language—or the invention of GIS—are harder to pinpoint. However, the confluence of three pivotal events in 1962 and 1963 makes this as good a time as any to celebrate a half century of GIS. Continue reading
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Tagged Betty Benson, Canada Land Inventory, Edward Horwood, Geospatial Revolution, GIS, GIS-Pro, Harvard, Laboratory for Computer Graphics, Penn State, Roger Tomlinson, Spartan Air Services, SYMAP, University of Washington, Urban and Regional Information Systems Association, URISA
Years ago when introducing GIS, we often talked about the five essential parts that make for a successful implementation–hardware, software, data, methods (or procedures), and people. These same five parts are still valid today, though their context has evolved considerably over time.
Hardware, software, data, and methods are challenges that we can manage in straightforward ways. We can understand what needs to be done, and we can identify the solution.
The latter ingredient–people–is the most complex factor. It’s the wildcard of GIS, and is also the primary key to successfully lifting a GIS off the ground, nurturing its growth, and (perhaps more importantly) keeping it relevant over time.
Esri’s Education team is often asked: Does GIS have value for kids? What kinds of things do students, teachers, and administrators do with GIS?
Yes, GIS does have huge value for kids as well as adults! Today’s youth are tomorrow’s decision makers and GIS users. “Geo-Literacy“—the ability to use geographic understanding and geographic reasoning to make decisions—is a critical skill for addressing the tough issues affecting global health and community life. It’s also crucial to students’ personal success.
Dr. Stephen Ervin is as vibrant as his day of birth—Mardi Gras. Like the celebratory day itself, Ervin is animated, larger than life, and full of contagious energy. He has spent two decades working at Harvard University teaching courses, speaking at conferences, and authoring books about his passion—the intersection of computing, design, and science. “Geodesign has taken over my life,” Ervin chuckles.
The Assistant Dean for Information Technology at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Director of Computer Resources, and lecturer in the Department of Landscape Architecture, Ervin still somehow manages to find time to evangelize and promote the principles of geodesign in various ways around the world.