Author Archives: Keith Cooke

Keith Cooke
Keith Cooke is a State Government Account Executive for Esri. A graduate of Auburn University, he has been a GIS professional since 1994 and has worked for planning and community development agencies at the regional and local level in Alabama and North Carolina. In addition to his state government duties at Esri, Keith works with the Elections Solutions Team, as well as the Planning and Community Development Team. He is an active participant in the American Planning Association’s annual conference where he has conducted over two dozen hands-on GIS workshops for planners since 2004.

Recent Posts

Creating a Sustainable GIS

A COTS-based approach insures your applications will stand the test of time.

[Note:  This is latest post in our series about Managing GIS.]


“Government agency leaders recognize that pre-recession business models are not sustainable, and are willing to pursue radical service changes by making targeted IT investments.”

Gartner, Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for Smart Government, 2013

This quote from Gartner is one I use frequently, because I think it says a great deal about our situation in the GIS industry today.  The game plan we used in the late 2000s is no longer sustainable.  Even if GIS professionals don’t immediately recognize it, IT and agency directors do, and they are ready to spend money on it.  In this installment of our Managing GIS series, we’ll take a look at why that is and how it impacts today’s GIS professionals when it comes to applications. 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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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

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