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

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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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Are you ready for the storm?

Flooding is one of the most costly natural disasters that government agencies endure. Floods are a great risk to people and property. Knowing ahead of time that a flood is going to happen, what will be flooded, who will be affected, and how to respond is of great importance to reducing loss of life and property.

Does your organization have the capabilities, resources, and tools it needs to weather any storm and safeguard your community? In this blog you will find three critical steps that help you to prepare for and respond to flooding events.

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The Importance of Location Analytics in Supporting the Space Planning Capability

Space planning is a key component of the merchandising process. At Esri, we consider space planning in merchandising as those capabilities that support the allocation of space and placement of products in the retailer’s stores.

Best-in-class retailers tightly integrate space planning with their assortment planning and fulfillment capabilities. The amount of space given to a category or product drives the shelf stock by store, which is used, along with demand forecasts and available inventory, to calculate need for fulfillment and ordering.

There are two key capabilities that space planning teams in merchandising support: macro space and micro space.

Macro Space Planning                                                                                                                

Retailers typically will create macro space plans that describe the layout of their stores at the category level. This process is hierarchical in nature; store planners and merchants tend to start at the total store and divide up available store space into by merchandise divisions or departments. They will then further break down their space into categories.

For example, in a big box retailer, a department might be Pet Care. Categories within pet care might be dog food, cat food, cat litter, small animal and pet beds, leashes and accessories. Store planning teams will determine the total amount of store footage to allocate to Pets, and to each category. Considerations will be store performance by category, aisle and fixture configuration and the relationship between highly trafficked and less trafficked store locations.

Micro Space Planning

Once the department and category space allocations have been made the micro-space team takes over. Also called planogramming, micro space planning is the process of creating fixture-specific schematics that store merchandisers use for seasonal and new product sets in their stores. Planograms describe the number of facings a given product might have on a shelf, how many items to put on the shelf, what signage is needed, what shelf labels are needed, and where to place them.

How Esri Can Support Space Planning

One of the key strategies that brick-and-mortar retailers are trying to solve today is localization, how to make their individual stores more relevant to the communities and neighborhoods they serve. To accomplish this, retailers need to intersect attributes and data about customers, products and location in order to create a full understanding of who is shopping in their stores and, just as importantly, who is not. Being able to effectively leverage this data enables retailers to more successfully engage and retain their existing customers while creating assortments or marketing messages to reach new customers and grow market share by leveraging their existing investments in store square footage.

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Modeling: What can patterns tell you?

Some problems demand you go beyond exploring the data into quantifying relationships or formally testing hypotheses. This is where modeling comes in. Spatial modeling allows you to derive new data from values of existing data layers and to predict what might happen and where. Modeling often takes you into the realm of developing specialized workflows through programming. Creating scripts and automated workflows lets you efficiently query and process large amounts of data and implement more complex algorithms. Increasingly, the value of sharing methods and code through the web allows you to create complex workflows without the need to develop all the components. Knowledge is being shared by putting the real power of spatial analysis into the hands of more people.

Modeling Processes

With an understanding of the processes at work in the natural or human environment, additional features can be modelled from spatial data. Using an elevation surface, for example, you can derive information and identify features that were not readily apparent in the original surface, such as contours, angle of slope, steepest downslope direction (aspect), shaded relief (hillshade), and visible areas (viewsheds). You can model the flow of water across Earth’s surface, deriving runoff characteristics, understanding drainage systems, and creating watersheds.

This GIS app shows how GIS was used to model areas that cougars would be likely to traverse through the mountains and wildlands near Los Angeles. Wildlife conservation experts stress the need to identify safe corridors, including natural bridges, so the big cats in isolated populations can find each other.

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Archaeologists Use a Drone and a Dog to Map a Dig

By: Angela Lee

In Sweden, Kalmar County Museum archaeologists Nicholas Nilsson and Fredrik Gunnarsson used Esri technology to unearth a moment frozen in time.  Using data captured by a drone, a web app, and a dog with a keen sense of smell, the archaeologists mapped a fort and its houses as well as the violent fate of the people who lived there.

In the 5th century AD during Europe’s turbulent Migration Period, on the island of Öland off the coast of Sweden many ring forts were constructed, mainly as a places of refuge during times of war.  Many gold artifacts have been found on the island, including gold coins given to islanders for serving as mercenaries in the Roman army.  The area surrounding the Sandby Borg ring fort had an unusually high concentration of these gold coins.

Concentration of gold coins (solidi) on Öland, Sweden

In 2010, locals alerted the Kalmar County Museum that the Sandby Borg ring fort was being looted.  The Museum conducted a metal detector survey in order to save any remaining artifacts.  They found some amazing items, including jewelry caches containing large gilded brooches.  Why would these items be left behind?  Because of this mystery, the Museum began excavating Sandby Borg.

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