Category Archives: Industry Focus
By Florian Brandi-Dohrn, AED-SICAD
Connecting renewables to the grid is a complex workflow and process for utilities. For instance, where does one place outlets for electric cars without endangering grid stability and energy provision security? Or, for a new residential area, how does one plan the new lines and connect them to the grid intelligently? These manual processes deserve a better way, especially in an era of continuous digitalization of our core processes. Thankfully, we developed the UT Smart Apps to solve just this challenge.
The PLAN module allows you to create planning projects and scenarios. Design as many scenarios as you like and draw the grid for each scenario as you like. Add the load, or the generated energy at each end point, and use the CAD-like construction tools to be sure that each point is at the right location.
Second, the CALC module allows you to start a network calculation (e.g., a load flow) with one simple click. Most importantly, this network calculation runs directly on your precious, low-voltage GIS data. . Using the CALC module, you can simulate various planning scenarios. In addition, you can simulate switching scenarios in case you’d like to re-configure the grid due to new, planned assets.
Finally, the EDIT module allows you to update the switch status. The correct switch status is an important aspect in the use of these Smart Apps, because the correct topology is a very important piece of information for the network calculation. For ease of use, many users have combined all this functionality into one convenient web app.
Why Use UT Smart Apps?
Those DSOs working with the UT Smart Apps cut down in the technical evaluation of new service points, new renewable plants, or simply electric outlets for cars. Some current users report getting 95% of their technical evaluations down from 15 hours to just 30 minutes. And of course, all technical evaluations are now properly documented, allowing for each decision to be backed up with a proper document detailing the load flow calculation that was run.
The UT Smart Apps save utilities millions of dollars per year, thanks to their dramatic reductions in time spent manually calculating the impact of grid connections. On average, the apps help planning engineers shave 15 hours off the assessment of new grid connections, especially for renewable sources.
AED-SICAD is partnering with Esri Platinum Partner SSP Innovations to implement the UT Smart Apps at U.S. utilities. Find AED-SICAD and SSP in the exhibitor hall at the 2017 Esri User Conference in San Diego, booths 927 and 926. Don’t hesitate to ask either of them about the UT Smart Apps in person.
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
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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
My granddaughter, Gloria, interviewed me for a school project. One of her questions was, “Where were you when you asked your wife [her grandmother] out for your first date?” I, of course, remember it like it was yesterday. I answered, “It was in a phone booth in Harvard Square in Cambridge.” She looked at me quizzically and asked, “What’s a phone booth, Pop?” Her phone was tucked away in her back pocket.
Funny how fast things disappear from our collective memory.
When I first worked for a power company, one of my projects was to fix the many issues with the mapping department. Back then, everything was manual: the drafting, the reproduction, and the distribution of prints of the ancient paper maps. Those old things were notoriously out-of-date. The field offices had stacks of map sheets that needed to be filed. Most of the field supervisors kept their own sets of marked-up map prints. It was a mess.
A lot has happened since the launch of the Federal Small Business Specialty (FSBS) in 2016, as we will be celebrating the first anniversary of the program at the upcoming Esri Federal GIS Conference in DC on February 13-14, 2017. Here are a few of the highlights from 2016, and what to expect at Fed GIS from Esri’s small business partner community next week.
With over 70 partners in the FSBS to date (See our public storymap of the FSBS partners here), we have an amazing community of small business partners who provide a wide range of GIS services, including agile development of applications designed to meet Federal Government agency requirements.
A key part of the FSBS program is to enhance our partners’ technical expertise through a series of ongoing workshops as well as webcasts on emerging, newly introduced Esri technology, so they can deliver cutting edge solutions and learn best practices for implementation. In 2016, partners were able to experience hands on workshops in the areas of web apps, Portal for ArcGIS (which is now included in the newly released ArcGIS Enterprise), as well as developing mobile applications with ArcGIS Runtime SDKs.
Implementing and configuring Esri’s Enterprise GIS Portal is a common area of expertise partners wish to develop and have an opportunity to deliver to customers. John Steed, Director of Geospatial Services, Tesla Government Inc., explained, “We recently integrated Esri’s Portal into our information platform and the field users are thrilled. By implementing a web app presentation in our platform, we present all the widgets our users want while still controlling the information presentation with custom permissions.”
Esri’s Drone2Map for ArcGIS application was another big area of interest for partners to understand how they could work with this technology to tap into this fast growing market. “The Esri FSBS team’s commitment to partner growth has supported our entrance in the emerging industry of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) data collection. By providing webcasts, software, and technical expertise Esri and the FSBS team have enhanced our ability to deliver outstanding geospatial products and services to our clients,” said Adam Campbell, GIS Project Manager, Geospatial Consulting Group International, LLC.
Here is an image from a project GeoCGI performed in the Fall of 2016. The photo is an Archaeological Site next to James Madison’s Montpelier in central Virginia. The orthomosaic was processed using Drone2Map
Maps rich with data analysis are used as a tool in many different ways to help users make better-informed decisions. Esri’s geographic information system (GIS) technology puts information in a geographic context. The element of place is one everyone is familiar with already, but to be engaging, a map needs to go beyond its function. This is why the aesthetics of mapping are so important to Dr. Kenneth Field, Esri senior cartographic product engineer. “There are reasons why people love historical maps,” said Field. “They’re pieces of art as well as well-designed technical products. A map that is well designed, where care has been taken as to the form as much as the function, is one of the reasons why people want to look at some maps over others.”
Field spent 20 years in the United Kingdom teaching cartography and GIS. For the past six years, he has been Esri’s resident mapmaker. “Usually they’re very experimental maps, because what I’m trying to do is push the software,” said Field. “That helps us internally, because it demonstrates all we can do, and it also pushes our users to reflect on what’s possible in an entirely Esri-focused workflow.”
His work at Esri has taken Field around the world to conferences on mapping, not only to demonstrate Esri’s capabilities but also to educate others about cartography using Esri’s GIS tools. One such conference, GeoCart, in New Zealand, allowed Field the opportunity to run a workshop on map design. His two-day preconference workshop has been such a successful part of the last three GeoCart conferences that the New Zealand Cartographic Society awarded him an honorary membership, making Field only the second person to receive this honor.
Dr. Field has also recently been honored by the British Cartographic Society, which gave him its top honor for an innovative map he presented at the society’s 2016 awards. The map illustrates the diversity in British football pitches (fields), showing the pitch dimensions and geographic orientations of 92 professional football clubs in England and Wales. Overlaying the centered and scaled aerial images of the pitches produced a spirographic pattern that was educational in showing how widely the pitches varied, and the information was unique in its presentation. “Purely by chance, the data created this beautiful kaleidoscopic image,” said Field. “I think the reason people liked it is that nobody had ever seen that kind of data handled and presented in that way before.”
During rush hour on August 1, 2007, sections of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, began to collapse and fall into the Mississippi River, killing 13 people and injuring another 145. This was only one of a series of high-profile bridge failures that have resulted in lives being lost. The cause, according to many experts, is that the United States has been systematically underinvesting in infrastructure and maintenance for some time. In fact, recent figures indicate that state and local spending on infrastructure is at a 30-year low.
Effectively addressing America’s infrastructure needs begins with knowing where to make the most strategic investments. And that is where GIS can play an important role in understanding the condition of our infrastructure, where the largest bottlenecks occur, and where dollars should be targeted for the greatest benefit to the nation’s economy.
By Gary Sankary – Head of Industry Marketing, Retail
Every year, more than 30,000 retail analysts, executives, and professionals meet for three days in New York City’s Javitz Center for the National Retail Federation’s annual Big Show. As a retail veteran, believe me when I say there’s nothing in our industry quite like it. It is the largest and most important trade show of the year for retail and retail technology. Retail professionals from every aspect of the industry come to the show to connect, meet with technology partners, and see what’s new in the industry.
The Esri Retail team is excited to showcase many of the ways ArcGIS can help retailers bring precision to their enterprise and extend their capabilities in merchandising, marketing, operations and business intelligence. With the release of ArcGIS 10.5 and Insights for ArcGIS, it’s never been easier for retailers to understand why things happen where they do.
ArcGIS brings precision to retail by enabling retailers to leverage the power of geography in their decision making and execution. Every retail transaction happens in a location for a reason. By connecting data, events, and transactions, retailers can discover the insights they need to find target customers, drive sales, reduce expenses, and engage with their customers. As retailers continue to develop and execute their strategies to support unified commerce, a location data management strategy enabled by ArcGIS is critical.