GIS is Collaborative

Your own GIS is simply your view into the larger system. It’s a two-way street. You consume information that you need from others, and in turn, you feed your information back into the larger ecosystem.

Geography is key for integrating work across communities

Modern GIS is about participation, sharing, and collaboration. As a Web GIS user, you require helpful, ready-to-use information that can be put to work quickly and easily. The GIS user community fulfills that need—that’s the big idea. GIS was actually about open data long before the term gained fashion because the people who were doing it were always looking for ways to deepen and broaden their own GIS data holdings. No one agency, team, or individual user could possibly hope to compile all the themes and geographic extents of data required, so people networked about this to get what they needed.

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The View From Above: The Power of Remote Sensing

Humans have always sought the high vantage point above the landscape. Throughout history, whether from a treetop or a mountain peak or a rocky cliff, the view from above allowed our ancestors to answer important questions: Where is there water? Where is the best hunting ground? Where are my enemies? Aerial photography was first practiced by balloonist Gaspard-Félix Tournachon in 1858 over Paris. With the advent of both photography and practical air flight in the early twentieth century, the advantages of having the high ground led to a quantum shift forward and the field of remote sensing was born.

The technology came of age rapidly during World War I as a superior new military capability. From 1914 to 1918, aerial reconnaissance evolved from basically nothing to a rigorous, complex science. Many of the remote sensing procedures, methods, and terminology still in use today had their origins in this period. Throughout World War II the science and accuracy of remote sensing increased.

The use of aerial photography rapidly matured during the First World War, as aircraft used for reconnaissance purposes were outfitted with cameras to record enemy movements and defenses. At the start of the conflict, the usefulness of aerial photography was not fully appreciated, with reconnaissance being accomplished by cartographers sketching out maps from the air.

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Jack Dangermond Shares a GIS Vision for all U.S. Counties

To remain healthy, vibrant, safe, and resilient, America’s counties must anticipate and adapt to all types of challenges and changes. This is the canon of the National Association of Counties (NACo), an organization that unites more than 3,000 American county governments. Many of these counties are moving their IT out of an age of legacy stovepipe systems into the digital age of enterprise IT systems.

Jack Dangermond, whose company Esri leads the world in GIS technology, was a featured speaker at the NACo eighty-first annual conference and exposition in July 2016. He shared his vision about the future of smart communities in which government is more responsive, productive, efficient, transparent, and engaged with its citizens. The overarching theme of the Esri president’s presentation was that GIS enables a smarter world.

Among the company’s lofty goals is its initiative to create a greener infrastructure for America. Esri has created a planning and development solution for analyzing ways to accommodate community growth without adversely impacting the environment. Counties can see what’s at stake—inside and outside their borders—and take action to preserve valuable cultural, scenic, ecological, and agricultural landscapes.

Somerset County, New Jersey used GIS to determine where best to restore and fund green infrastructure.

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Important 3D Terminology

Getting the z-terminology straight

Maps and Scenes

GIS content can be displayed in 2D or 3D views, and there are a lot of similarities between the two modes. For example, both contain GIS layers, both have spatial references, and both support GIS operations such as selection, analysis, and editing.

However, there are also many differences. At the layer level, telephone poles might be shown in 2D as brown circles, while the same content in 3D could be shown as volumetric models—complete with cross members and even wires—that have been sized and rotated into place. At the scene level, there are properties that wouldn’t make sense in 2D, such as the need for a ground surface mesh, the existence of an illumination source, and atmospheric effects such as fog.

This scene shows the global pattern of airports and the interconnected air traffic routes using the openflights.org data.

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Using Satellite Archaeology to Protect Ancient Sites

There may be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of undiscovered ancient sites across the globe, and Sarah Parcak wants to locate them. As a satellite archaeologist, she analyzes infrared imagery collected from far above the earth’s surface and identify subtle changes that signal a man-made presence hidden from view. Doing so, she and her colleagues aim to make invisible history visible once again—and to offer a new understanding of the past.

Sarah Parcak is a leading expert on space archaeology. She is from Bangor, Maine, and is a National Geographic Society Archaeology Fellow, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and a 2013 TED Senior Fellow. Sarah serves as the founding director of the Laboratory for Global Observation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she is a professor.

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Esri Nominates County’s Smart Community Technology for GCN Award

Pinellas County, Florida, has implemented a successful, innovative smart community governance model. Thanks to technological initiatives and innovations to deliver smart sustainable services, the county is better supporting its staff, municipalities, and the public. Because of its successful implementation, Esri nominated Pinellas County for the GCN dig IT 2016 Cloud and Infrastructure award.

GCN supports the public sector IT managers by providing technology assessments, recommendations, and case studies. For 28 years, the organization has showcased general excellence in government information technology by presenting the GCN dig IT (Discovery and Innovation in Government IT) awards. This year GCN is recognizing transformative technology that is truly reinventing government.

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Esri AgTech is Big at InfoAg 2016

By: Charlie Magruder, Esri Agriculture Group

Advancements in agriculture technology will be a hot topic at InfoAg August 2–4, 2016, in St. Louis, Missouri. This year InfoAg sponsor Esri will showcase its AgTech Program, which offers the latest geospatial tools for agribusiness.

Stop by booths #79–82 and see many ways the Esri ArcGIS platform could help you map, visualize, and share data, such as monitoring crop health, managing farm and field, and tracking assets. People who build technology solutions are also welcome to come and explore Esri tools that can differentiate solutions and shorten development cycles. Esri’s open platform has powerful and flexible APIs, data, and ready-to-use templates that help you build intelligent apps quickly.

Throughout the conference, Esri partners will be at the booth to share important information such as drone data analysis, runoff management ideas, and real-time weather analytics.

InfoAg HackerLab

Esri will host a HackerLab on Thursday, August 4, immediately following InfoAg, for developers looking to really dig in and get their hands on some code. This free interactive lab will walk participants step-by-step through exercises to create map apps. Any and all developers are welcome to register.

Learn more about Esri at InfoAg.

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Mapping the Third Dimension

A Change in Perspective

3D is how we see the world. With 3D Web GIS, you bring an extra dimension into the picture. See your data in its true perspective in remarkable photorealistic detail, or use 3D symbols to communicate quantitative data in imaginative ways, creating better understanding and bringing visual insight to tricky problems.

The Evolution of 3D Mapping

Throughout history, geographic information has been authored and presented in the form of two-dimensional maps on the best available flat surface of the era—scrawled in the dirt, on animal skins and cave walls, hand-drawn on parchment, then onto mechanically printed paper, and finally onto computer screens in all their current shapes and sizes. Regardless of the delivery system, the result has been a consistently flat representation of the world. These 2D maps were (and still are) quite useful for many purposes, such as finding your way in an unfamiliar city or determining legal boundaries, but they’re restricted by their top-down view of the world.

Some stories lend themselves very well to 3D storytelling. The Mountains of Fire story map is composed of a number of 3D web scenes.

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Michigan Partners with Esri to Lead the Way in Smart Communities

One of the most important challenges in managing and providing public services today is the effective sharing of data among departments. The Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB), located in Lansing, Michigan, has taken a huge step in empowering their staff by choosing Esri to host and manage all their imagery data.

Esri provides the integration platform and framework for managing imagery services that the state required for greater efficiency and collaboration. Key stakeholders across multiple departments and partner agencies can now share common authoritative geospatial data.

The Esri solution will serve up to 25 terabytes of data for services and products common to all areas of the government. This data will be managed by the Center for Shared Solutions (CSS), an office within DTMB, which provides leadership, technical expertise, and sharing of geographic information in the state. The department also provides more than 60 statewide mapping datasets hosted on the ArcGIS platform for every state-run entity in Michigan.

By hosting and managing imagery services in the Esri cloud, the state of Michigan will now be able to provide a data resource and shared understanding, enabling more informed decision making.

For more information how government agencies use Esri technology to foster innovation, visit esri.com/stategov.

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What are mosaic datasets?

Collections of images

The recommended data structure within ArcGIS to manage and process imagery is the mosaic dataset. A mosaic structure enables significant big data capabilities for large, even massive, image collections. Each mosaic is composed of a number of related raster datasets, enabling you to keep your original individual image files on disk and to access them as part of a larger, integrated single collection. Mosaics are used to create a continuous image surface across large areas. For example, among other scenarios, you can use mosaics to handle coverage of very high-resolution image files for an entire continent. Or you can manage an entire historical map series for a nation for every year and every map scale. You can even manage huge multidimensional collections of time series information for earth observations and climate forecast modeling (often referred to as 4D). Creating mosaics is straightforward. You can point to a series of source georeferenced image files and automatically assemble a mosaic in minutes where each image acts as a tile within the collection.

Managing extremely large collections

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