Why Location Strategy Matters for Utilities

We have a burglar who visits our house regularly. Unlike most burglars, he or she only steals small, mostly unimportant items. Aside from an occasional sock, the stolen goods are almost always tools that I use around the house. I know they are being stolen, since I always remember exactly where I have put a tool once I’m done using it. Then, when I go to use that tool again, it’s gone—stolen. It’s not the value of the tool that is important to me; it’s the time I waste looking everywhere in vain for it. The funny part is that the burglar always returns the stolen items (except for the unmatched sock). The interesting part is that he or she puts the items in a completely different location from where I leave them.

This same thing often happened at the utility company where I used to work. Our crews would carefully and precisely document the location of every piece of equipment that they installed. Yet during a power failure or a project, the equipment—like a transformer, a valve, or a switch—would be mysteriously stolen at some point and returned to a different location. And like my experience at home, the crews would waste precious time looking for the equipment that was supposed to be in one location but was somewhere else. This was especially frustrating in the case of underground cables. Someone apparently was digging up the cables and moving them sometimes 10 feet or more. And during a power failure, customers would have to wait longer for their power to be restored because of the utility’s lack of knowledge of where things were. Finally, this lack of precise location information created safety issues. This reminds me of the time that the burglar at my house returned my box knife. He or she placed it, with the blade exposed, into a box reserved for cleaning rags. I stuck my hand into the box and cut myself—all because of a lack of information about where.

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Paving a Path to Smart Communities

By Matt Ball, Esri Writer

The Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities has transitioned from an analog to an entirely digital workflow to manage and maintain its water, storm water, and streetlight operations. While it’s hard for some office personnel to remember working with paper maps, some field personnel clearly recall their experiences.

Try riffling through paper on a cold snowy morning, looking for the right mapbook to locate a meter. If the meter was installed less than six months ago, it likely hasn’t made it into your book. If you do find the location in one book, you’ll need to grab another book for more detail.

The first book gives you the block and the side of the street, while the second measures the distance from the curb. Unfortunately, the meter you need to service isn’t showing up in the second book. Work needs to be done, so days can’t be wasted getting an updated map. It isn’t long before you exit the cozy cab of your truck and start digging.

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Fact – Maps Run Your Operations

2017 Esri Public Sector CIO Summit

Written by Mike Dyer, Business Development Lead

Where? This is perhaps the most common question in government. Where informs our decision-making. Where improves our operational efficiency and quality of service to citizens. Where also enhances civic engagement.

Governments of all sizes recognize the critical role that spatial data plays in developing smart communities. Most governments have had GIS implementations in place for years, but CIOs today are looking for the practical knowledge they need to modernize those implementations that help enable smarter government.

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Into the Woods Using the US Forest Service Visitor App

USFS Trail Web App

If you have ever camped, hiked, or fished in a national forest, you probably picked up a visitor map at the forest’s office. The first-rate cartography of these pocket maps is sure to get you to your favorite campground or … Continue reading

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Esri Attends UN World Data Forum to Advocate Geospatial And Statistical Data Integration

(L-R) Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General, UNDESA; Macharia Kamau, Special Envoy for the President of the UNGA, on behalf of UNGA President Peter Thomson; Michael Gerber, Ambassador and Special Envoy for Global Sustainable Development, Swiss Federal Council; Jacob Mamabolo, Gauteng Department of Human Settlements and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, South Africa; Ning Jizhe, Commissioner, National Bureau of Statistics, China; and Clint Brown, Esri

Esri participated in the first UN World Data Forum , which took place January, 15–18, 2017, in Cape Town, South Africa. This forum convened to explore innovative ways to measure global progress and inform evidence-based policy decisions on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is a plan of action agreement among heads of state and government. Esri joined data statistics experts from government, national statistical offices, the private sector, academia, civil society, and international organizations to discuss interactive platforms that improve the use of data for sustainable development.

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Unlock Big Insights from Big Data with a Location Strategy

As retailers in 2017 continue to face headwinds, the competition is more challenging than ever. Customers are empowered by 24/7 access to the global marketplace. For many retailers, new store growth has slowed, so sales and margin growth are increasingly being driven more by incremental growth from existing stores. To continue to excel in this environment, every business should be mindful of three trends in retail big data:

  • Sustainable growth – To grow sales in their existing stores, retailers must find innovative ways to reach customers and drive loyalty.
  • Connected consumers – As consumers have become accustomed to growing transparency around the prices and quality of what they buy, retailers must find new ways to engage with and earn the loyalty of their customers.
  • Explosion of big data – With the Internet of Things (IoT) maturing, retailers must leverage the vast amounts of useful data available within the network of devices and sensors that are connected online.

Retailers already have access to myriad data from sources like point of sale (POS), mobile devices, inventory management systems, and in-store sensors. As useful as this data is on its own, real insights happen when retailers can connect disparate data to see the conditions that bring success. And one powerful way to do this is by viewing data through the lens of location. Maps enable people to instantly spot and explore patterns and relationships in data.

Location is the common thread of data and enables decisions to be made about matters such as where to position existing merchandise and where to site new stores. Spatial analysis also allows retailers to more efficiently drive traffic through stores by effectively using the data typically only used in the online shopping environment. By tapping into insights derived from in-store sensors and customer mobile devices, retailers can make better decisions about where to allocate goods and employees in a strategic way that is targeted to consumer behavior. Forming a business strategy that leverages integrated location data helps retailers match the in-store customer experience with what consumers experience when shopping online. This is made possible by analyzing demographics, buying patterns, and customer movement in the context of space and time.

Spatial analysis is the key to understanding where, when, and why things happen. With this insight, retailers can engage existing and potential customers and spur in-store sales.

Learn more about how a location strategy can optimize retail operations.

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Esri Receives Youth Environmental Science Award

At Esri’s 2017 Federal GIS Conference in Washington, D.C., Esri President Jack Dangermond received a small medal for having made a big difference, and two local organizations were very happy.

The Youth Environmental Science (“YES”) Award is given annually by Youth Learning as Citizen Environmental Scientists (“YLACES”), a non-profit organization that supports science education for youth. The award includes a $10,000 grant to an organization engaging youth as active citizen environmental scientists, and Esri chose the Jane Goodall Institute’s “Roots & Shoots” program.

The focus of YLACES is getting students engaged in inquiry-based, experiential science. “For 25 years, Esri has helped K12 students gather, analyze, interpret, and present data about the world, thereby equipping students to better learn science by doing science,” said YLACES president Dr. Dixon Butler. “Esri has made powerful tools available for free for educators around the world, from ArcVoyager to public ArcGIS Online, and provided training so teachers could do this. This commitment has made a difference.”

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Gaining Local Insight for Business

Many businesses have gleaned great returns by looking at operations through the lens of geographic science. The largest wins take on mythical status, as the impacts can be so profound that users want to keep the secret behind these rewards from competitors.

A few eye-opening anecdotes have come to light, including ones about the following:

  • A global parcel delivery company that eliminated left-hand turns and implemented other distance- and time-saving measures for better routing that saved thousands of miles across the company’s fleet and hundreds of millions of dollars annually
  • A national home repair service that improved its efficiency to the point that it could consolidate the number of call centers by two-thirds with an initial cost savings of $9 million and ongoing yearly savings of close to $50 million
  • The chain of coffee shops that scrutinizes the link between store location and performance and finds per-store improvements with effects that are compounded across the chain’s network, including such results as how moving one store just one mile would gain a $10 million increase in yearly sales

At the heart of these wins, and many more, is an enterprise location strategy with Esri’s geographic information system (GIS) mapping software at the hub. GIS integrates with existing customer and enterprise systems, bringing location data, proven algorithms for analysis, and tailored applications to extend insightful information to the front lines of decision-making. Businesses use this powerful platform to reveal deeper understanding of their data.

The recently launched Esri Location Strategy for Business web pages contain information and tools to give every business user a taste of the kinds of spatial analysis available. The new Discover Local Insights application gives visitors a free ZIP code search for some of the key local psychographic variables that help reveal the values, opinions, interests, and lifestyles of customers.

The Discover Local Insights application provides an interactive tool to help businesses understand how to use the power of geographic science to better understand their customers.

“The application falls into our strategy of providing actionable information for business,” says Robby Deming, Esri marketing program manager. “It helps to show how Esri’s vast business and demographic data can provide even greater insight when combined with data that businesses already hold.”

Esri Tapestry Segmentation provides the power behind this application. Tapestry data contains the classification of all US residential neighborhoods, broken down into 67 unique segments based on demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. This data, along with more than 10,000 added Esri data variables, conveys a wealth of local insight.

This short description of the Exurbanites segment can be explored further. Click image to see full four-page report of this segment.

In addition to presenting the psychographic segments, both the 15-minute drive-time area and five-mile-ring buffer area around the ZIP code can be overlaid on the map. These geoenriched polygons give users a greater sense of place while illustrating the intuitive and interactive nature of geospatial business analysis.

This free tool is available as a web application to any interested business. Work is under way to create a mobile-friendly version as well as to enable this application to be embedded in any website. Some of the functions being planned for development include the ability to compare ZIP codes side by side and generate drive times or buffers from any point on a map.

Many businesses have used these kinds of tools for decades to better understand their customers. The early adopters are now combining what they already know with new data feeds from in-store sensors, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and other sources. Live information, such as weather conditions or social media mentions, can also be visualized to get up-to-date insight into factors that impact local business decisions.

“We’re using the Discover Local Insights application to give businesses a practical example of the powerful knowledge they can access through a location strategy,” says Deming. “Any commercial business that wants to know more can sign up for a free location strategy assessment, which includes a half-hour conversation with our technical and commercial business experts. We want to help people understand how their peers are driving business benefits from location technology. In addition, we’ll also provide them with a potential road map for developing their own location strategy that matches their business objectives and needs.”

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Where’s the New Revenue?

How to Grow Property Tax Revenue Fairly and Equitably

By Brent Jones, Esri Land and Cadastre Global Industry Manager

In many parts of the country, the death knell for tax hikes has sounded. While wages and other costs rise, no new revenue from raising property tax rates is likely to come as local governments work to keep those rates fixed. The good news is that new revenue can be generated with up-to-date property data and modernized GIS technology.

New mandates, requirements, and efficiency tasks often require governments to add new software and capabilities in an attempt to stay current. Compounding this, the technology that citizens use daily has raised their expectations of how local governments deliver services. At minimum, they expect to access maps and data fast on all their devices. These expectations put us at odds with budgetary realities.

Increasing revenue without raising taxes isn’t a pie-in-the-sky idea. Consider today’s assessors. Many of them use external data to ensure property data is accurate and current. They’re bringing in more money by discovering untaxed improvements. Using affordable new data services like NearMap and DigitalGlobe, assessors can get a current bird’s eye view of what’s actually on the ground and compare it with their existing property data. New change detection services streamline this process.

With new apps like Esri Photo Survey, assessors can rapidly collect up-to-date street level photographs with low-cost, consumer-grade cameras. By combining field force management and routing tools in Workforce for ArcGIS with field appraisal management practices, local governments are increasing revenues and decreasing operating costs with minimal investments in software and data services.  Many assessors don’t realize that they already own these tools and capabilities as part of the ArcGIS platform.

Valuation appeals are costly to defend. Current, accurate data coupled with advanced analytics enables assessors to gather and present the evidence to support defensible values. Insights for ArcGIS delivers new capabilities to see undiscovered trends and patterns delivering better communication with taxpayers to maintain trust of the assessment process.  Today’s GIS marries spatial data with advanced analysis on all devices, eliminating the expense of long-term support cost and the need to create custom applications.

There are practical and systematic ways to improve revenue from real property.  If you’re not using all of your GIS capabilities, perhaps it’s time you do. Follow the lead of many assessors who use maps, data, and analysis for discovery. It’s the fair and equitable thing to do.

For more information, see the ArcGIS for Land Records white paper.

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Why Attend the Esri Public Sector CIO Summit?

By Lee Johnston, Director of Local Government Sales

Few events provide the ability to network and learn from some of the nation’s best and brightest IT professionals like the Esri Public Sector CIO Summit. This annual event is expected to bring together more than 100 public sector CIOs from across the nation and Esri personnel to collaborate, innovate, and discover ways to spark change using geographic information system (GIS) technology. The 2017 summit, to be held at Esri’s headquarters in Redlands, California, March 29–30, will focus on how GIS supports newer IT trends influencing governments, including the following:

  • Effectively engaging citizens
  • Open data
  • Digital workplaces
  • Real-time tracking and sensor data/Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Business intelligence, analytics, and data-driven decisions
  • Smart machines
  • Agile application development
  • Recruiting/Developing your workforce

Rapid advancements in technology—such as new mobile applications, sensor-based data collection, the cloud, and software-defined architecture—are transforming how governments do business. Additionally, many governments are seeking new, effective means of engaging, communicating, and sharing information with staff and citizens more effectively and consistently. And, in many parts of the country, IT organizations face a workforce that is aging, and they are looking for ways to attract new talent. CIOs are increasingly aware of the silver tsunami (aging government employee population) and how managing and preparing for staff are as important as the technology itself.

“The Esri Public Sector CIO Summit is a great way to benchmark your GIS operations to what other cities and counties are doing around the country. I always come back with ideas and new ways of doing business that helps us gain value out of [our investment] and increase the value of GIS to our organization.” — Steve Reneker, CIO, Riverside County, California

It’s no secret that we learn best in a collaborative environment where we can compare stories and approaches. The summit provides an opportunity for you to learn firsthand how other IT professionals are responding to these same trends, goals, and challenges, and because this is a national event, CIOs are able to share and gather ideas outside their typical local sphere of influence.

“As a first-time attendee of CIO Summit last year, I have learned that the Esri platform is a versatile business tool that enables our organization to make better decisions and save money. It provides not only comprehensive information at a glance but also capability of business application. Our GIS solution for animal control unit is a perfect example.— Ed Jin, CIO, Yuma County, Arizona

 

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