Monthly Archives: February 2012

GIS and The City 2.0

More than 50% of the 7 billion people inhabiting our planet now live in cities, a number projected to grow to more than 75% during this century. The growth of cities as the center of the human world was highlighted when “The City 2.0” was awarded the 2012 TED Prize.  “For the first time in the history of the prize, it is being awarded not to an individual, but to an idea,” the TED committee stated. “It is an idea upon which our planet’s future depends.”

Clearly cities will play an increasingly important role in our future survival. Cities offer easier access to services, and urban dwellers are more efficient consumers of limited resources. Cities are human destiny. But as our cities become more populated and more numerous, how do we best manage this complexity?

We need to start thinking about cities in a different way.

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Private Clouds: Moving from Hype to Reality (Really!)

Back in 2008, the term “cloud computing” was barely a glint in the eye of most technology companies.  Perhaps they used and Gmail, but tossing around the “cloud” terminology wasn’t really de rigueur.

Now it’s hard to imagine tech discussions without some reference to it at least once in conversation.  Seems like it’s everywhere – or at least the terminology is.

In 2009, Esri hitched its geo-wagon to Amazon Web Services (AWS) as our primary cloud provider.  But the general consumer audience was much more familiar with shopping experiences through rather than cloud hosted services off of AWS.  Fast forward less than three years, and things certainly have changed.  AWS has established itself as separate and different from, with a brand synonymous with “cloud” as a globally-known public cloud infrastructure service provider.   And in 2010, Esri announced the availability of ArcGIS Online, initially supported by AWS infrastructure under-the-hood, to bring the ubiquity of a public cloud platform to the geospatial community.

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GIS in Education: Beyond Instruction

Expanding GIS use throughout educational institutions

Typically when people reflect on the incorporation of GIS technology in education, the picture that comes to mind is framed by classroom instruction and research—for instance, a high school world geography class, a community college GIS certificate program, a university urban planning course, and basic scientific investigation that advances knowledge. These and other areas of academic and career instruction and research do, in fact, represent the lion’s share of the GIS activity occurring within educational institutions, and which is vital to fostering successive generations of geospatial leaders and problem solvers. However, these are not the only settings where GIS is providing an essential service within educational entities. Continue reading

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The Next 20 Years of GIS Education

This is part 2 of my interview with David DiBiase, Director of Education at Esri, about the opportunities and challenges ahead with GIS in education.  [You can read part 1 here]

Have we yet reached a sort of “critical mass” where more educators know about geospatial technologies than don’t know about the technology?

Maps and mapping are certainly part of more people’s day to day lives than ever before. For example, we know that mapping applications are among the most popular apps for smartphones. However, map awareness doesn’t equate with GIS awareness. Relatively few educators, researchers, administrators, and students know how GIS can support learning, help produce research insights, realize efficiencies and better decisions, and provide an edge in the job market. Furthermore, despite the mass market appeal of web mapping, resistance to incorporating GIS assignments in curricula in disciplines like business, economics, education, engineering, political science, and others, persists.

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Changing the Way We Teach and Learn GIS

Mobile computing, social media, “the cloud”, and other technology trends are not only changing the way we use GIS; they’re also changing the way we teach and learn GIS. Just how are these changes affecting education?  I recently spoke with David DiBiase, Director of Education at Esri, about the opportunities and challenges ahead. [Note: This is the first half of the interview; you can read the second half here.]

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