Category Archives: Industry Focus

Simultaneous Access with the Location Platform

Smashing Information Silos and Connecting People with the Data They Need

When I worked for the power company, I liked to ride around town with my colleague Paul.

Paul was a troubleshooter, an on-call worker who hung out in his bucket truck, waiting for something to go wrong on the grid. While the job may sound like a cakewalk, troubleshooters were almost always busy. Once someone reported a problem, Paul would get a call from the dispatcher and then race to the location of a power failure. He would quickly locate where the failure occurred; radio in an assessment of the damage; and, if possible, fix the problem.

Many of the issues troubleshooters encountered were caused by tree limbs falling on the exposed lines, causing a short circuit and blowing a fuse. Another common problem occurred when unwitting squirrels would use the power lines as a convenient path from one source of nuts to another. (The squirrels usually didn’t make it.) Each time, Paul would uncover the burned tree limb on the ground, or find the fried squirrel, then figure out which fuse blew and replace it. Problem solved in most cases. Continue reading

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What You Need to Know to Prepare for the FCC 600 MHz Auction

The Changes, the Challenges, and the Complexity of Readying Your Spectrum Bid

Mark your calendars. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is gearing up for what promises to be the most exciting and complex spectrum auction ever attempted, beginning March 29.

So what’s all the hype about? For starters, wireless penetration in the United States passed 100 percent in 2012 and demand for high-speed services will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. In addition, about 56 percent of all mobile traffic is data-intensive video, which is expected to grow sixfold by 2018. Continue reading

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Why a Tough, Smart Grid Is Critical to Smart Communities

Pairing Brains and Brawn to Power Tomorrow’s Cities

I attended one of the worst junior high schools in the Greater Boston area. It stood for 100 years, pumping out students who were mostly ill-equipped to handle the rigors of high school. There were two types of kids there: the tough kids and the smart kids.

The tough kids were the sons and daughters of gangsters or future gangsters. Most had lingered at the junior-high level well beyond the minimum of three years. Not only were they tough, they were also pretty old and big for junior high school, which made things that much worse for the rest of us.

I was one of the smart kids. Sadly for me, smart kids bore the brunt of the tough kids’ harassment. Hardly a day went by when someone did not confiscate my lunch money, knock my books out of my arms, or push me onto the weedy school yard blacktop. On particularly bad days, a tough kid would threaten to burn me with a cigarette. Summer vacation was like a reprieve from prison. Of course, the smart kids got their revenge later in life with good jobs, nice families, and houses in the suburbs. Most of the tough kids ended up spending their remaining days in the Cedar Junction or Norfolk prison. At least, that was my wish. Continue reading

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The Success and Acquisition of GeoMetri: From Startup to Enterprise IT

Michael Healander, founder of GeoMetri and now vice president of business development at Acuity Brands.

Alabama-based indoor mapping solution provider GeoMetri has a big announcement: it’s being acquired by Acuity Brands, a North American company and one of the world’s leading providers of indoor and outdoor lighting and energy management solutions. GeoMetri was part of the … Continue reading

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Esri’s Growing Agriculture Community

Back in January 2014, Esri held the first Western Agriculture GIS Meeting in a small conference room in Esri’s regional Sacramento office. Attended by about a dozen permanent crop GIS analysts and managers, this was the first time this group had the opportunity to gather and discuss spatial approaches to the unique challenges facing western  agriculture.

Fast Forward, by January 25th, 2016, the Esri Western Agriculture GIS Meeting has grown, attracting over seventy growers, solution providers, and academics to the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento, CA. The group came together to gather, learn from one another, and discuss the latest trends in spatial technologies for agriculture.


The agenda was designed to reflect common patterns of adopting spatial technologies in the agriculture industry. The morning began with an ArcGIS platform overview, given by Esri Agriculture Lead Charlie Magruder, followed by a discussion and demo illustrating several ways to get started, map, and visualize your agricultural data. Continue reading

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Young Guns—The New Face of Real Estate

Sometimes it seems like everything in my world is challenging my notion of normal. Last week, I saw the owner of a restaurant punching check amounts into a huge calculator. This calculator was twice the size of the smartphone I was using to request pickup by an Uber car.

While I was riding away, I was wondering who, besides that restaurant owner, still uses calculators today. The last time I used one was 30 years ago, for my high school science and math classes. I can’t imagine needing a calculator in my business today. After all, I’ve got Excel and virtual calculators on all my desktops and devices to use instead. In fact, I ordered my ride, paid for it, and got a receipt, all by pressing two buttons in an app on my smartphone.

When you use a Location Platform, it’s simple to build, publish and share data on the web from simple data files to elegant, interactive 3D web scenes that can be viewed everywhere. Continue reading

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What’s Your Real Estate Location Strategy?

A New Strategy for a New Year

Time flies when you’re having fun and working hard. We are already a month into 2016.  Looking at my calendar reminds me that I’ve worked at Esri for 16 years! That’s not as long as some of my colleagues have worked here, but in the technology industry, that’s practically a lifetime.

In that time, I’ve watched GIS move from being a tool used by cartographers working in organizations’ mapping departments (plus a few early adopters) to being a business-critical part of any real estate company. It has evolved to keep pace with a new generation of CRE professionals who have become mobile in response to increasing demands for information anywhere and at any time.

Because of this, in my role with Esri, I am frequently asked to define the value of GIS and location technology for real estate organizations. It might seem obvious, but to me, the value is neither splashy 3D apps nor simply dots on maps. The value is less about pretty maps and snappy apps and more about developing a strategy that makes use of your current location data resources. I’m talking about a location strategy.


What Is a Location Strategy (and why do I need one)? Continue reading

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Blow Up Complexity, Insist on Simplicity

Drive Business Value with the Three A’s of ArcGIS

Years ago, I worked at a power company for one of the most interesting people I can remember. Bob was brilliant, articulate—and paranoid. He didn’t trust anyone. He believed that many of the folks working for him were goofing off all the time. (Not me, of course!) He would even sneak around the city in the middle of the night to try to catch night shift crews in the act of not working.

Bob had a number of operations groups working for him. I ran one of those groups. He was also in charge of an administrative group that performed a variety of functions such as checking police detail invoices, preparing dispatcher reports, and filing circuit maps. Bob hated this group. He couldn’t understand why it even existed.

One day, Bob had had enough. He decided to simply blow up the department. All his managers—myself included—warned him that this was a risky move. We believed that if the group failed to exist, something bad was sure to happen. A critical report or regulation filing would go missing. We could get into trouble. Surely, this department was doing valuable work for the company. Continue reading

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Eight Ways Communities Can Make Elections Smarter

Empowering the Democratic Process with Intelligent Mapping

Elections are the foundation of democratic society. 21st century elections leverage technology at every step in the process to insure accuracy, openness, timeliness, and fairness.  From operations and public outreach to redistricting and campaigning, intelligent maps effectively serve the public and meet expectations.

Here are eight things you can do today to leverage the power of geographic information systems (GIS) technology to make elections smarter in your community.


1. Locate Early Voting Centers

Early voting centers allow participation by voters who may not be able to vote on the set Election Day. The availability and hours of operation for early voting centers can vary by jurisdiction, and registered voters are more likely to participate in a given election when they can find an early voting center located conveniently near their home or place of business. Continue reading

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Ten Reasons You Should Attend the Esri Business Summit

I’d like you to consider attending the Esri Business Summit, being held in San Diego, California, June 25-28, 2016. This event provides an excellent opportunity to network with others from the commercial industry who are using GIS technology to create location strategies within their organizations.  The Summit will have content specifically for managers and C-level executives to discuss the business strategy behind the technology. Those who work with business data every day will benefit from focused presentations on workflows and solutions to specific challenges. There will also be lots of time to meet with Esri partners that specialize in focused commercial areas.

Ten Reasons You Should Attend:

  1. Network with peers facing common business challenges such as connecting a GIS vision to an enterprise strategy and understanding the business value of big data.
  2. Your executive team can attend sessions focused on the business value of a location strategy while your technical team can attend tracks tailored to some of your organization’s biggest business challenges. Continue reading
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