Monthly Archives: September 2014

Engaging with Executives: A How-To for GIS Professionals

Three Simple Steps to GIS Management Success

[Note:  This is the second post in our new series about Managing GIS.]

When I first started working at Esri nearly a decade ago, my meetings with clients were almost exclusively with GIS managers and GIS technicians.  Today, at many of these same clients, my meetings are more likely to be with CIOs, agency and department directors, and other executives.  That’s not because I’m more important than I was a decade ago, it’s because GIS is more important than it was a decade ago. And I think two big shifts in the GIS industry have resulted in this change.

First, GIS really started to gain traction in government agencies and the private sector in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.  Organizations wanted it, but didn’t always put a lot of thought into where it best fit within the organization as a whole.  Often, it would fall under whatever department seemed the most able or willing to house it.  Over time, IT professionals saw the value of GIS in terms of how it could benefit the organization, whether it meant geo-enabling an existing business system, providing spatial insight to other departments, or as a way to share data with the public. That’s when the game changed. GIS evolved from essentially a niche technology to a mission-critical business system, and as a result we’ve seen IT departments increasingly embracing what was previously seen as an “outlier” technology. Continue reading

Posted in Managing GIS | 2 Comments

What is “Transformative” Research?

The Gartner Group Hype Cycle on Emerging Technologies for 2013 (courtesy of Gartner Inc..

Next-generation techniques are already changing the way we do science. Recently the National Academy of Sciences convened a Workshop on Identifying Transformative Research in the Geographical Sciences. Given that so many of the challenges that we currently face are place-based … Continue reading

Posted in Vision | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mobile GIS? Never Heard Of It!

Many Workflows are Best Served with Targeted Apps

I get this said to me all the time:  “We have this big GIS in the office. We use it all the time to make maps and export data into our outage systems or gas leak management system. It’s great! Can we put it into the field for the mobile workers?”

People want mobile GIS.  But I respond like a psychiatrist when they ask for it: Instead of giving them a straight answer, I ask them a question: “To do what?”

Their answers span a big gamut. They range from, “It’s easier to get maps on a mobile device than to carry around paper maps,” to…

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Posted in Industry Focus | 2 Comments

Attention GIS Managers: New Strategies for New Times

Overcome the Challenges of Your Role by Learning New Skills and Applying New Strategies

[Note:  This is the first post in our new series about Managing GIS.]

Defining the role of a successful GIS manager today is vastly different from how we would have defined a successful GIS manager even five years ago.  If you are using the playbook from five years ago, the odds are stacked against you.  This conclusion comes not only from my personal experience as a GIS manager, but from my professional experience at Esri working closely with Local Government GIS managers.

Most GIS managers have worked their way up to manager positions from GIS technician/analyst positions, and many have GIS/geography or similar academic/professional experience.  While this background is great for being a successful GIS user, it does not necessarily provide you with the skills necessary to be a successful GIS manager–and this is exactly what I have experienced in my career. Continue reading

Posted in Managing GIS | 15 Comments

When Open Data Isn’t Useful Data

Four Common Problems with Open Data, and How to Fix them with ArcGIS Online

Organizations create and manage a vast amount of data. Many of these organizations, such as government agencies, desire or are required to share certain data with the public. This data, when freely available for people to obtain, use, and redistribute, is called open data.

Open data is important for transparency and fostering innovation. Open data is also important for ensuring data integrity.

But just being “open” often isn’t enough–your open data also needs to be useful data. Continue reading

Posted in Technology | 8 Comments

Story Map Journal: A Geo-Multimedia Extravaganza

In July the Esri Story Maps team released the Story Map Journal, a new storytelling app that enables users to combine long-form text with rich multimedia content. Among the app’s features:

  • A “main stage” for large visuals, including maps, photos, videos, and websites
  • A “side panel” that accommodates titles, text. photos, and videos
  • A builder function that enables users to create media-rich stories without needing to have either GIS or web development skills
  • Ability to switch between layout options, and to make other refinements to color scheme, logo use, and more
  • Responsive design, making the app work on all screen sizes including smartphones Continue reading
Posted in Storytelling with Maps, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Speaking the “Language” of Spatial Analysis via Story Maps


Last update: September 25, 2018 Spatial analysis has always been a hallmark of GIS, the “numerical recipes” which set GIS apart from other forms of computerized visualization and information management. With GIS we can pose questions and derive results using … Continue reading

Posted in Storytelling with Maps | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Building the Most Detailed Population Map in the World

Esri is compiling a human geography database of demographics and statistics about all countries in the world and mapping this data using an innovative methodology.

Sociodemographic data is a valuable asset for businesses, governments, and society. Describing and understanding the human geography of the world requires tools to assimilate data in a statistically valid way that will allow for meaningful decision making.

Traditionally, people are counted in a census. But a census is time-consuming, costly, and does not collect the types of statistics at the level required to address today’s complex societal issues. Continue reading

Posted in Technology | 5 Comments

Boomers’ Retirement: Changing Outlook

For generations, Americans worked hard, lived within their means, saved for retirement, spent their golden years in relative comfort, and passed on a healthy inheritance to their children. Many Classic Boomers held only one or two jobs during their careers; received healthy raises, bonuses, and pensions; and didn’t have to worry about healthcare costs gutting their assets. These were traditionally-held patterns and goals. Based on these behaviors, many in succeeding generations could count on an inheritance to help finance large expenditures such as buying a house or paying for their children’s educations. Now? Maybe not so much. Ironically, in the days before the first wave of Boomers began to retire, economists warned against the impact of the largest transfer of wealth in our nation’s history.

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