A Lifeline for Power Lines

Managing the Three Ts of Electric Transmission with GIS

Where were you on August 14, 2003, at 4:00 p.m. (Eastern time)? That’s when much of the northeastern United States was blacked out. No power. Sweaty office workers stuck in elevators from Manhattan to Cleveland. Traffic signals dead everywhere. Tons of food spoiled. At the time, people were still wary from the September 11 attacks.

The culprit for disaster this time? Well, there were many. But two of them were rather skinny Ailanthus trees that had become a little too big for their britches.

The trees grew too close to the heavily loaded Stuart-Atlanta 345 kV transmission line, a major power corridor between the United States and Canada. When transmission lines carry a lot of power, their conductors sag. As fate would have it, at the worst possible time, the sagging lines came in contact with those two little trees. So the line tripped out. This was one in a series of cascading events—which created one of the largest power failures in the nation’s history. Continue reading

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What Black Friday Tells Us about Omni-channel and How Location Can Help

Black Friday 2015 saw the most tangible evidence to date that retail has changed. While it remains a key day for sales for both consumers and retailers, consumers are shopping in new ways. They are shopping earlier than ever (some stores opened on Thanksgiving afternoon for Black Friday shoppers) and more cleverly than before (price comparisons between local shops is easy to do thanks to a multitude of apps). The holiday shopping season promotions and huge sales peaks of yesteryear have been replaced by year-round provisions, advanced planning, earlier shopping, and mixing both online and in-store purchase channels.

Total in-store shopping was about the same as a year ago, but online sales grew by more than $1 billion, pushing total sales ahead of 2014. Email promotions drove 25 percent more sales compared with 2014, while for the first time ever, the majority of online traffic came from mobile devices driving traffic through improved apps and mobile sites on tablets and smartphones. Continue reading

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Seven Easy Ways to Use Location as a Service

Retail is a location-centric business. Every transaction; every customer’s home address, online search, and IP connection; every coupon offered and used; every delivery, store, and missed omni-channel purchase—each one of these can be analyzed and connected to any and every other action by location.

If retailers use location analytics delivered as a service to drive their omni-channel initiatives, they can know so much more about their customer interactions and expectations. Individual transactions become touch points along a journey to purchase, and new patterns emerge from oceans of data—islands of concrete value and understanding that grow and interconnect, linking silos and breaking down barriers.

Here are seven easy ways to use Location as a Service (LaaS) to bring new insight and add value to every transaction to gain a more intimate understanding of the customer: Continue reading

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Web GIS: What Kind of Data is Available?

The mission of every GIS organization is to perform specific functions within its jurisdiction. Each of these departments, groups, or agencies is committed to building key authoritative data layers to support its work. This work includes the compilation of foundational data layers as well as standard basemap layers for their geographies and applications.

For such organizations—and they are myriad in local, regional, state, and national levels around the globe—this information has served as the basis for all of their comprehensive GIS applications. During the early days of GIS, the compilation of these data layers was one of the primary tasks of each organization. As this data was developed, GIS data developers were able to leverage their information resources in various kinds of GIS applications that extend their own work and help their constituents. Continue reading

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DIY Rapid Photo Survey of Entire Neighborhoods

Technology advances so quickly that it’s mind blowing sometimes. Look at the proliferation of drone technology, for example. In mid 2015, Amazon formally asked the FAA for permission to test their commercial drones for use in delivery of packages in 30 minutes or less. Personally, I don’t think I’d mind having my veggie burrito delivered by a friendly drone. Just kidding. Kind of.

For sure, there are real societal concerns that have to be addressed when any new technology is introduced. Issues of privacy, safety, security, and even social equity come to mind. The recent incident of hobbyist drones shutting down airspace above forest fires, resulting in the stopping of aerial bombardments of fire retardants, is a good case in point.

Navigating these issues will be tough, but soon enough, laws and regulations will catch up with the new technology, and then, the proliferation and use of UAV’s will skyrocket, just like GPS did. There are lots of positives to be gained in the planning discipline when this happens. For example, planners should be able to use UAV’s to rapidly conduct condition assessments of neighborhoods and inventory assets, just like people are already doing for ranches, wetlands, natural areas, and mining operations now. Continue reading

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Great Maps Need Great Data

Creating and Using Authoritative Geographic Data

ArcGIS Online is rapidly emerging as the platform of choice for the creation and dissemination of authoritative geographic data content. This post explains how this unique data ecosystem works, how to access that data, and how to contribute your own piece to the puzzle.


The Living Atlas

The Living Atlas of the World is a treasure trove of information, a dynamic collection of thousands of maps, data, imagery, tools, and apps produced by ArcGIS users worldwide (and by Esri and its partners). Think of it as the curated subset of ArcGIS Online as a whole, organized by the ArcGIS community. This deep and definitive catalog of information awaits you. And that’s the big idea of this chapter, that you can combine content from this repository with your own data to create powerful new maps and applications.

ArcGIS includes a Living Atlas of the World with beautiful and authoritative maps on thousands of topics. Explore maps and data from Esri and other organizations and combine them with your own data to create new maps and applications. Browse the Living Atlas.

Continue reading

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Five Steps to Help You Find the Next Great Idea in Real Estate

Working with commercial real estate (CRE) professionals for nearly a decade has given me some interesting insight into this sector of the economy. The CRE sector can sometimes seem chaotic. Over the last decade, I have seen CRE professionals prosper where others have failed. While I don’t purport to be an expert, I have had the opportunity to see what success in CRE looks like. From my perspective, one trend seems to stand out. It’s not secret sauce or something someone learns from those get-rich-quick schemes we see advertised on late night television. The common thread among leaders in CRE is that they see opportunity where no one else does.


Information, Location, Strategy — the Trifecta of CRE Success

OK, that’s great, I’ve stated the obvious. But how do you do it? There is no magic opportunity wand; there is only what you know about the market. Therein lies the real secret to success in real estate—having access to information. Continue reading

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Localization and Location as a Service (LaaS)

Today’s customers expect a seamless experience as they research, engage and purchase across mobile, web and physical store locations. Successful retailers have put customer retention, marketing, and back-end IT systems in place to make sense of these behaviors in order to enhance the customer experience.

Many retailers are using localization, applying the unique nature of specific locations to reflect the product or service being offered, to integrate messaging and operations across these channels.

What is localization? In this context, it is using local market characteristics to place the right products at the right price in the right store at the right time. It requires location-specific planning and execution strategies across departments included targeted marketing, sales, merchandizing, store operations and distribution.

This movement uses data-driven processes and solutions, including gathering and analyzing local customer demographics, to better understand what needs to be offered in each location. Retailers do this in hopes of getting marketing, distribution, merchandizing, e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail operations all working in harmony. Despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars, many times, the results haven’t lived up to the hype.

Why is this? One reason is that retailers have missed one fundamental element,  the location in localization. For all the focus on integrating demographics, merchandizing, transaction history and store size and format, none of these systems have been designed to truly create, manage, and share location-based insight. Continue reading

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Esri’s Commitment to Open

In the spirit of openness, I want to share with you today what it means to us, at Esri, to make ArcGIS an open platform.

We are committed to ensuring that your data and systems are interoperable with other technologies. This is a challenge because our user organizations have different or unique approaches, philosophies, and preferences for implementing interoperability. In response, we take multiple pathways to interoperability—a tactic that has, so far, been successful for thousands of users working with complex systems.

Please take a few moments to review the following information about the work we are doing to build ArcGIS as an open platform. Continue reading

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Four Maps of American Health You Need to See

Eat your fruits and veggies. Drink plenty of water. Exercise 30 minutes a day. That’s the perfect recipe for good health, right? Well, not quite.

The truth is, your health depends on much more. Thanks to advances in mapping technology, today’s health professionals know that where you live, work, learn, and play has an incredible impact on your well-being.

Interactive maps paint the picture of community health, showing the spatial relationship between disparities, illness, and location—like visualizing how a neighborhood with no playgrounds influences childhood obesity. Maps offer rich insights that can help drive positive change in Americans’ lives.

Check out these four maps to explore the health challenges that permeate the United States and how place plays a pivotal role. Continue reading

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