The Wise GIS

ArcGIS Makes It Simple to Answer the Why

My wife’s Auntie Sadie was born old. I’ve seen pictures of her when she was in her late thirties and, even then, she looked old. One of her most endearing qualities was her wisdom. Maybe that’s why she looked old, because she was so wise. When our kids misbehaved, Sadie would be able to look at things from a number of different angles, take apparently unrelated information, and craft her wise analysis of the reasons for the misbehavior. Her special gift was analysis.

In my last two posts, I described three things that the ArcGIS platform does that can transform the way an electric company does its business. They each begin with the letter A. The first is access—the simple ability to give everyone in the company (as well as others such as customers, first responders, and the media) the ability to see its important information on a map, regardless of which device they use, where they are, or what time it is.

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What Makes an Enterprise GIS Successful?

As the 2016 Esri User Conference approaches, I have been thinking about the essence of what makes an enterprise GIS successful and offer these thoughts…

A successful GIS implementation requires more than just technology. Whether or not a GIS is successful, largely depends upon motivated people that are committed to managing change, and effectively applying the technology in a sustainable manner, while following best practices. An assistant City Manager once told me, “…whether or not our GIS implementation is successful is not a technology problem, it’s a people problem…”

Two of the key elements of a successful GIS are vision and leadership – if you are a GIS Manager, you need to be more than just a manager, you need to be a leader in your organization. You need to awaken your organization, and the public, to the capabilities and benefits of the use of GIS. This means you need to market the benefits of GIS to colleagues and the public. Let them know that GIS can do more than make maps, that it can be used easily by anyone, and that spatial analysis can provide insight that is not accessible with any other technology. This critical insight can help anyone make better decisions, be more efficient, and therefore, save money and time.

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The Expansive Reach of Web GIS

Across organizations and beyond

The geographic organizing aspect of GIS has been part of GIS thinking from the beginning, but now factor in the impact of the web. The new Web GIS provides an online infrastructure for making maps and geographic information available throughout an organization, across a community, and openly on the web. This new vision for Web GIS fully complements, integrates, and extends the work of existing GIS professionals.

Web access to data layers is straightforward: every layer has a web address (a URL) making it easy to locate and share online. And since every layer is geo-referenced, Web GIS becomes an engine of integration that facilitates the access and recombination of layers from multiple providers into your own apps.

This is significant. Millions of professionals in the GIS community worldwide are building layers that serve their individual purposes. By simply building and then sharing these layers back into the GIS ecosystem, they are adding to a comprehensive and growing GIS of the world. Each day, this resource grows richer and is tapped by ArcGIS users and shared on the web. Web GIS truly has become “the nervous system of the planet.”

Web GIS extends the reach of the work of GIS professionals to others inside of their organization and to their constituents and beyond.

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A Lesson from Social Networks

Why Real-Time Collaboration Matters for Electric Utilities

Tony Zingale, the executive chair of Jive Software, once quipped, “We know more about what our high school girlfriends had for dinner than what’s going on within our organization.” Why is that?

For one thing, our consumer apps and social media platforms are built around the notion of collaboration, not workflow. But doesn’t workflow require collaboration? Exactly.

The general lack of internal awareness within organizations is tied to the business IT world’s lagging behind consumer applications. Many of today’s enterprise IT systems model specific workflows. In the electric utility business, IT systems are organized along departmental lines. Integration among electric utility systems has been tough, expensive, and clunky.

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Solutions for Smarter Ocean Decisions

By Mike Livingston

We used to think the ocean was so large that it could easily reproduce what we removed from it and accommodate what we put into it. “Self-healing,” we called it. We now know that is not true.

Fisheries are frighteningly diminished, coral reefs are bleaching, and toxic algal blooms are tied to high levels of nitrate like that found in agricultural fertilizers. Pollutants have created zones lacking enough dissolved oxygen to support life, and these dead zones are growing instead of somehow healing themselves. In addition, population growth in coastal areas is hastening damage to structures and organisms. As Dr. David G. Gallo of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution puts it, “Regardless of where we live on Planet Earth, we have an impact on the ocean. Conversely, regardless of where we live on Earth, the ocean has an impact on our everyday lives.”

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Don’t Miss the GIS Managers’ Open Summit on Tuesday

Engage with your peers to learn how they are improving business efficiency and managing technology change with GIS. The Summit will feature two successful customers and focus on participation, networking, and attendee collaboration.

Don’t miss the GIS Managers’ Open Summit on Tuesday, June 28!

GIS managers, business and technology strategists, and other decision makers are encouraged to attend. The Summit is free but registration is required.

The Summit runs on Tuesday from 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. in Ballroom 20 A.

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Seeing the Forests for the Trees

An Expanding Collaboration Between the USDA Forest Service and Esri

By John Steffenson

You may know the USDA Forest Service as the steward of 193 million acres of national forest land, but the agency is much more than that. Its Research and Development (R&D) branch is the largest forestry research organization in the world, charged since 1928 with a congressional mandate to make “a comprehensive survey of the present and prospective requirements for timber and other forest products of the United States.” The branch’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program drives the survey that meets that mandate.

Surveying the nation’s forests involves maintaining 355,000 permanent sample locations on private and public lands across nine time zones from Guam to the Caribbean and monitoring a grid of approximately 6.5 million photo points. While the traditional focus has been on rural forest land, the FIA program is expanding to include urban forest resources. They also survey private land owners and wood-processing facilities across the country to understand the flow of wood products from state to state and to international customers.

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Our Answers to Your Questions

The Esri User Conference is almost here, and we can’t wait to see you in San Diego. One of the ways we prepare for the conference each year is through the Esri UC Q&A. You may have recently received a survey asking for your comments and questions about GIS and Esri. We’ve spent several weeks addressing your questions and we’re eager to share this information with you.

I invite you to spend some time reading through the Q&A. Whether you’re coming to the Esri User Conference or not, the Q&A is a terrific way to learn more about the latest enhancements to Esri technology, emerging trends for GIS in your industry, and the road ahead.

It’s my hope that this information will help you solve your challenges and become even more successful with GIS.

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Web GIS, Simply

I’m often speaking about, demonstrating, writing about, or using Web GIS. And I’m frequently asked things like “What exactly is Web GIS?” and “Why is Web GIS important to me?” To answer these and other common questions, here’s how I describe Web GIS, simply.

What is Web GIS?

Simply put, Web GIS is a pattern, or architectural approach, for implementing a modern GIS. It’s powered by web services—standard services that deliver data and capabilities, and connect components.

Web GIS can be implemented in the cloud (using ArcGIS Online), on-premises (using ArcGIS Server), or more typically as a hybrid combination, leveraging the best of both worlds.

Web GIS isn’t new, in fact it’s been evolving for a long while. But we’ve reached, actually passed, a tipping point where innovation in GIS and related technologies have made Web GIS not only possible, but essential.

Web GIS has been evolving for a long while, and has been influenced by innovation in many areas.

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Saving Water, and Milk, in New Zealand

Farmers Protect Waterways Using Mapping App

By Jessica Wyland

A mapping app is helping New Zealand face an “economy versus environment” dilemma. The island nation, home to nearly 5 million people, relies heavily on dairy exports, yet needs to mitigate the potential effect of dairy farms on the waterways.

Fences around rivers and streams prevent cows from accessing waterways and potentially impacting water quality. Strategic plant buffers near waterways, known as riparian zones, can capture run-off from dairy farms before it drains into waterways.

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