Tag Archives: GIS

Credential Creep in the GIS Field—For Good or for Ill?

A new generation of credentials herald better times ahead for adult education and workforce development.

Have you noticed the proliferation of GIS credentials?

Hundreds of GIS certificate programs, dozens of specialized master’s degrees, and even a few bachelor’s degree programs have sprung up at colleges and universities at an accelerating rate since the 1990s. The absence of standards and accountability for academic certification contributed in part to the rise of GIS professional certification programs. These credentials are conferred by a few professional societies rather than many individual academic institutions.

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From Bricks to Clicks: How Location Intelligence is Changing Retail

Location analytics helps retailers breathe new life into old strategies. 

Online shopping is well understood. We don’t only know how many people visit an online retail site. We also know that changing the size of a picture by a few pixels will generate more sales. We can even see if online shopping carts have been abandoned, what items people have viewed, and how long visitors have stayed on a page to calculate their interest in buying a product.

But when it comes to knowing how many people shop at a physical store, traditionally we scratch our heads. We’ve been trying to figure out those details for more than a hundred years. And don’t get me started on “dark shoppers”—customers that visit a store but don’t purchase. Unlike online shoppers, “dark shoppers” don’t leave an activity trail. There’s been a lot of talk about how in-store beacons will change this, but the jury’s out on how shoppers will respond. Continue reading

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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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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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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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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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Urban Planning and the DNA of the City

A city looks and feels the way it does because of human intention. Early civilizations built their settlements next to waterways, designing them to accommodate this resource accessibility and their own survival. During the beginning of the industrial revolution, cities were planned with ever-evolving rules ensuring that city streets were wide enough to accommodate the full turn of a horse and carriage. In this way, the values of the people were encoded into the very DNA of the city.

A complex built environment can be reduced to three basic elements: links along which travel can occur, nodes representing the intersections where two or more paths cross and public spaces form, and buildings where most human activities take place. The functionalities of place are all defined by rules and procedures, which make up the core design vocabulary of a place.  Procedural design techniques automatically generate urban designs through predefined rules which you can change as much as needed, providing room for limitless new design possibilities. Continue reading

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Electric Utilities Need Answers

GIS Responds to the Tough Questions

Electric utilities face a new world–one in which the infrastructure is aging along with the workers. The price of everything keeps going up. Customers want better and faster service, but some of them cannot pay their bills. Natural disasters seem to get nastier each year. Governments continue to dole out more and more regulations. The community wants better service, lower emissions, and fewer mishaps. It’s a political nightmare to raise rates. Plus, the new smart grid devices are smothering utility operators with data.

In short: utilities cannot continue to operate as they have been. Utilities need a better way to do business. GIS can help. Continue reading

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