Category Archives: Industry Focus
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.
By Clint Brown – Director, Product Engineering, Esri
At Esri, we believe that geographic information system (GIS) technology provides a critical framework for understanding, communicating, and organizing information about our world. Underpinning our work at Esri is the belief that applied geographic science provides a powerful medium for understanding complex challenges and that, through the application of GIS, we can explore possible solutions. In light of this, we have been closely tracking the process of establishing the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), creating capabilities that will help create and monitor the SDG data indicators. We believe that Esri’s ArcGIS platform is highly relevant as an applied toolset to achieve the goals set forth in the 2030 Agenda.
This story map is about the use of GIS to support SDGs. Visit sdgs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=c921e7d2cfef4c8ab98b839e27eda74a.
A primary goal of GIS is to provide a framework for organizing and communicating the collective global knowledge about our world and the impact of human activities. GIS and maps are used in all fields across every nation, providing a universal language for communicating and sharing ideas and insight. They offer the unique capability of integrating many different kinds of data. GIS uses spatial location and digital map overlays to organize the content of our world. And overlays can be used to integrate information and analyze relationships among and between all SDG initiatives.
City Website Empowers Citizens and Businesses with Open Data and Apps
Long Beach, California, just launched a comprehensive data hub called DataLB, which makes the city’s data available to the public online. Using Esri’s geographic information system (GIS) platform, DataLB enables citizens, businesses, and academic institutions to use civic data to improve decision-making.
Since 2014, Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia has been committed to implementing Esri technology within the city to display data in maps and make information easily discoverable and shareable between departments over the web. DataLB extends these capabilities to the public with an easily accessible website that connects people with the civic initiatives that benefit them. For instance, in the case of Measure A, which invested $150 million in Long Beach infrastructure, parks, and public safety, the hub has made all the data on the initiative available via a public story map. This visual tool includes interactive maps showing where funds will be used for specific improvements. And BizMap, a new application, allows the public to look up and export business license information in Long Beach’s business improvement districts and areas.
“DataLB will make huge amounts of city data accessible to the public, staff, and anyone who is interested in learning about or improving our community,” said Garcia. “Long Beach is doing more than just making data public. We are actually making it easy for people to see data in maps and use the site and apps to track public works, open new businesses, and find other resources.”
As a public engagement tool, DataLB reveals city data that was previously only accessible to internal staff. The hub also contains apps specifically designed to enable citizen engagement. For instance, Long Beach is working on an initiative to gather data using Esri’s Survey123 for ArcGIS that may be used in a future information product in order for the hub to visualize the impact of homelessness in Long Beach. This will help public safety and welfare agencies better allocate resources.
Florida presents unique challenges for the water industry. The groundwater is so close to the surface that I have often heard the phrase “Surface water is groundwater that you can see.” The karst geology adds to this problem. Everything is connected. This has caused great concern regarding water quality and the health of Florida’s rich ecosystems. You’ve probably guessed by now that these water quality concerns have created a diverse regulatory environment.
Image of downtown Orlando. Explore more in this storymap
In addition, water resources and water utilities face challenges surrounding construction, sea level rise, and data collection. Groundwater and tide conditions have to be considered before construction projects can begin. Sea level rise is causing flood inundation and salt water intrusion leading to corrosion. Remote locations, wetlands, sinkholes, and wildlife can make data collection difficult.
By Frits van der Schaaf – Head of Business Development, Automotive
The National Safety Council estimated that in 2015, approximately 38,300 people were killed on U.S. roads and 4.4 million sustained injuries. These tragic statistics are compelling car makers to add connectivity to their safety designs. Their cars will connect to an ecosystem of cloud-based networks that share information to make drivers more aware of their environment and avoid accidents.
Equipped with sensors that create a 360 degree awareness field, a connected vehicle gathers road hazard data. A geographic information system (GIS) processes the real-time data and transforms it into useful information. Using live weather data and historical incident data, for instance, GIS can predict the risk of an accident occurring on a specific section of road when it is raining or when fog will make the road hard to see.
GIS will also play an important role in vehicle and infrastructure sensor systems that share real-time data with each other. While drivers are traveling down the road, their vehicles are “talking” with various roadside structures. A geofence around a school and elderly housing can alert a car’s system to tell the driver to slow down inside the zone. Car sensors detect treacherous potholes and report the locations to other drivers and the city. Roadside sensor systems can capture real-time data about highway traffic conditions in the lane ahead and automatically relay it to the car’s dashboard to forewarn the driver.