Category Archives: Industry Focus

Why Don’t More People Vote?

I can remember turning eighteen and being so anxious to vote for the first time in the presidential election.  It never occurred to me that others did not feel the same way.

It wasn’t until I was an employee of a southern California city, heading up a GIS team, that the notion that people did not vote came to light.  In a meeting with the City Clerk, she explained that many times, people simply did not know where to go vote.  She told me that on election night, city staff would field hundreds of phone calls asking where to vote.  I later learned people even contacted the local library to find an answer to this question.

As a city employee, I felt the need to do something about this.  My team and I developed a polling place look-up tool and proudly placed it in the hands of the city clerk, elections volunteers, and library staff.  The tool allowed themselves and the public to search for polling stations on maps, on a computer. Using this tool, they were able to handle  hundreds of calls at lightening speed, getting voters to their polling place.

This all took place a while ago.  But even with the advancements in web applications and smart devices, the problem of not knowing where to go vote still persists nationwide.  Continue reading

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Whereabouts and the Elections

In looking back on the last month, two items have occupied my thoughts, our whereabouts, and the upcoming elections.  These two items may seem unconnected, dissimilar, or even odd, but I’ve come to the conclusion that we don’t think about them enough, together.


Whereabouts to Placemaking

Whereabouts: There is much talk today about getting people interested in and, in general, persuading people to consider and think about their whereabouts.  Their whereabouts at home, at work, and as they are out-and-about in their community, living their lives.

The term placemaking is an overarching idea for improving one’s neighborhood, community, or city.  To be heavy-handed, it is trying to reinvent how people can make their place in the community.  Placemaking compels us to consider, in our civic interactions, our whereabouts; our places occupied by, our home, our neighborhood, and our community where we live with our fellow citizens.

Collin County, Texas is helping voters find polling stations with the shortest wait times using Esri’s Polling Locator template applications with updates from Esri partner GISi. Part of the ArcGIS for Local Government solution, this application allows voting citizens in the County to locate the most convenient polling place in their area.

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Seven Apps to Help Build Healthier Communities

A healthy community starts with a modern approach to curating health and human services information, improving collaboration, streamlining processes, analyzing trends or issues, and communicating and engaging with the public. Geographic information system (GIS) technology leads the way, giving you the location-based intelligence and spatial analysis capabilities you need to build and maintain a healthy community.

There are endless opportunities to apply GIS across the broad spectrum of health and human services. Here are seven apps you can easily deploy to leverage the power of GIS to help make your community healthier today.


1. My Health Services

My Health Services is an app that helps residents locate a health facility and obtain information about services provided within their community from a smartphone, tablet, and desktop computer. The app is typically used by residents in a community, but it can be used by others to locate a health facility near them. Continue reading

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FedGIS 2016: Innovation that Inspires Change

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In less than one day over 4,000 professionals gather at the 2016 Esri Federal GIS Conference (FedGIS), February 24-25, to explore ground-breaking ways government uses geospatial technology to solve the world’s greatest challenges. Join our community and Esri President, Jack … Continue reading

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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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