Tag Archives: GIS

Imagery has so many uses

Show me my home! The human era of GIS begins          

Little more than a decade ago, seemingly the whole world snapped awake to the power of imagery of the earth from above. We began by exploring a continuous, multiscale image map of the world provided online by Google and other mapping companies. A combination of satellite and aerial photography, these pictures of Earth helped us to experience the power of imagery, and people everywhere began to experience some of what GIS practitioners already knew. We immediately zoomed in on our neighborhoods and saw locational contexts for where we reside in the world. This emerging capability allowed us to see our local communities and neighborhoods through a marvelous new microscope. Eventually, naturally, we focused beyond that first local exploration to see anywhere in the world. What resulted was a whole new way to experience and think about the world.

Initially, we zoomed in on our homes and explored our neighborhoods through this new lens. This experience transformed how people everywhere began to more fully understand their place in the world. We immediately visited other places that we knew about. Today, we continue by traveling to faraway places we want to visit. Aerial photos provide a new context from the sky and have forever changed our human perspective. This map tour visits selected areas in several communities where ultra-high-resolution imagery is available.

These simple pictures captured people’s imagination, providing whole new perspectives, and inspired new possibilities. Today, virtually anyone with Internet access can zero in on their own neighborhood to see their day-to-day world in entirely new ways. In addition, people everywhere truly appreciate the power of combining all kinds of map layers with imagery for a richer, more significant understanding.

Almost overnight, everyone with access to a computer became a GIS user.

A range of applications

By now, it’s apparent that imagery enables whole new perspectives and insights into your world and the issues you want to address. Imagery also has numerous advantages and capabilities.

Almost daily access to new information

Image collection is rapid and increasing. And access to imagery is increasingly becoming more responsive. Many satellites and sensors are already deployed with more coming all the time, collecting new data, adding to a continuous collection effort—a time series of observations about our planet. These image collections are enabling us to map, measure, and monitor virtually everything on or near the earth’s surface. All of us can quite rapidly gather much of the data that we need for our work. Imagery has become our primary method for exploration when we “travel” to other planets and beyond. We send probes into space and receive returns primarily in the form of imagery that provides a continuous time series of information observations. And it enables us to derive new information in many interesting ways.

Looking back in time

The use of aerial imagery is still relatively young. While imagery only began to be used in the twentieth century, it is easy to compare observations for existing points in time that reside in our imagery collections. In addition, we can overlay imagery with historical maps, enabling us to compare the past with the present.

Imagery data collections are becoming richer every day

Imagery is creating an explosion of discovery. Many imagery initiatives are repetitive and growing, expanding and adding to image databases for our areas of interest. ArcGIS is scaling out, enabling the management of increasingly large, dynamically growing earth observations. This points to the immediacy of imagery and its capacity for easy integration, enabling all kinds of new applications and opportunities for use—things like before-and-after views for disaster response, rapid exploitation of newly collected imagery, image interpretation and classification, and the ability to derive intelligence. Over time, many of these techniques will grow in interesting new ways, enabling deeper learning about our communities, the problems and issues we face, and how we can use GIS to address these.

Imagery enables powerful analytic capabilities

Imagery and its general raster format enable rich analysis using ArcGIS. And, in turn, these enable more meaningful insights and perspectives about the problems we want to address.


This post is excerpted from The ArcGIS Imagery Book: New View, New Vision. Imagery is suddenly a big deal, and those who are adept at finding it, analyzing it, and understanding what it actually means are going to be in demand in the years ahead. The purpose of this book is to help everyone from GIS professionals to app developers, and web designers to virtually anyone how to become smarter, more skillful, and more powerful appliers of image data. The book is available through Amazon.com and other booksellers, and is also available at http://www.TheArcGISImageryBook.com for free.

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Where’s the “G” in IS?

Visitors to Esri often pause for pictures beside an ivy-covered wall emblazoned with the word GEOGRAPHY in raised metal letters. The inscription speaks to an ingrained belief that geography offers a unique framework for organizing the world’s knowledge in a way that fosters better decision-making and a more sustainable future. Consistent with this belief, the education outreach team I lead at Esri does what we can to nurture geographic thinking and methods across the spectrum of academic disciplines.

That’s a big job. Disciplines have proliferated since the advent of the modern university in the 19th and 20th centuries. Consider this concept map of contemporary academic disciplines.  Few disciplines depicted explicitly recognize geography, let alone GIS, as an integral way of understanding the world. Given the longstanding claim that a science of geographic information undergirds GIS (Goodchild 1992), you might suppose that Information Science is one of the disciplines that’s likely to appreciate the special properties of spatial data. If so, you’d be surprised to find that there’s precious little “G” is IS.

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Esri Joins ASPRS UAS Mapping Symposium as Keynote Speaker and Exhibitor ― Sharing How Drones are Changing the Face of Remote Sensing

The annual UAS Mapping Symposium is one of the nation’s leading conferences on drones, bringing together geospatial experts from across the country. The symposium is organized by the American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, the premier imaging and geospatial information society.

As the world’s leading provider of GIS technology worldwide, my Esri colleagues and I are pleased to join ASPRS for this special opportunity to educate and inspire UAS industry professionals. My keynote session, “The Illusion of Simplicity: The Case for Making Drones Easy to Use”, will explore gaining the geospatial advantage by solving application-specific problems using imagery-derived information from UAS systems. I will share recent examples illustrating several use cases, along with observations on near-term trends related to drone use within GIS systems.

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Engaging the People of New Orleans with GIS

Monday, August 29 marks the 11 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the costliest disaster in American history. And while the category five storm caused unprecedented damage, the community has rebuilt the destroyed infrastructure, and has also taken new steps forward technologically.

The city of New Orleans now uses GIS extensively, and incorporates Esri’s ArcGIS platform into a series of enterprise applications. These help the public stay informed as well as enabling them to participate in making their city a better, safer place to live.

For instance, a new website called Where Y’at, is allowing citizens to access public data as easily as any common search engine.  By typing in their address, people can find up-to-date information about property boundaries, garbage, and recycling pick-up days, polling locations, district representation, and more.

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National Park Service Second Century of Service Starts with WebGIS

By Stephen K. Bryce, Esri Federal Government Expert

Since August 25, 1916, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the act creating the National Park Service, and continuing on through June 24, 2016, when the NPS added its 412th site, Stonewall National Monument, maps have communicated the importance of the nation’s most valued treasures. For a century NPS has created maps for survey, preservation, conservation, planning, tourism, search and rescue, facilities management, and more. Beginning its second century of custodial care, the NPS is modernizing web flows by bringing web GIS services into the mainstream of its map production.

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Five Things to Consider when Creating a Story Map

Story Maps let you combine interactive maps and scenes with rich multimedia content to weave stories that get noticed. Here are some things you should consider when creating story maps.

Think about your purpose and audience

Your first step is to think about what you want to communicate with your story map and what your purpose or goal is in telling the story. Who is your audience? Are you aiming your story at the public at large, or a more focused audience, like stakeholders, supporters, or specialists who would be willing to explore and learn about something in more depth?

Spark your imagination

Go to the Story Maps Gallery to see some examples handpicked by the Esri Story Maps team to inspire you and highlight creative approaches. You can filter and search the gallery to check out how authors have handled subjects and information that may well be similar to yours. Explore. Get a gut feel for what makes a good story.

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Esri UC Mexico Speakers to Present Process Optimization

By Jenifer Rico Pozos

The Esri SIG User Conference, will be held in Mexico City from August 31 to September 2, 2016.  GIS managers, corporate administrators and students will attend the event to network and learn from their community about the value that GIS brings to their industries. This year’s keynote speaker is Carlos Salmán González.

Salmán has spent nearly 45 years developing mapping projects in Mexico and abroad.  He is the recipient of the Esri Lifetime Achievement award for his exceptional applications of geographic technology.

“GIS provides the enlightenment and awareness necessary to stimulate the urgent changes needed in Mexico so that its citizens can realize their full potential,” Salmán said.

2016 Mexico Esri UC keynote speaker Carlos Salmán González received the Esri Lifetime Achievement Award from Esri president Jack Dangermond in 2010.

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From Research Project to Startup

Northeastern University Student’s Smart Communities GIS App Spurs Vision for New Company

By Kurt Daradics

At the 2014 Esri User Conference (UC), Northeastern University civil engineering student Salar Shahini presented his work on a research project that used a GIS web-based application to constantly monitor roadway conditions. Jack Dangermond, president and founder of Esri, encouraged Shahini to pursue the application beyond the research phase and leverage Esri resources to commercialize the technology. Dangermond emphasized that innovative hardware and software technologies such as Shahini’s would provide an immediate positive impact in society and help communities become smarter.

Guided by Esri’s staff, Shahini and his advisors translated these thoughts into an ArcNews article, Constant Pavement Monitoring without Disrupting Traffic. The article triggered a myriad of emails from cities and states around the globe, making the team realize the true need and potential impact of the technology. The flood of responses encouraged them to found the company StreetScan.

2014 Esri UC: Salar Shahini Meets Esri’s Jack Dangermond

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The Nature of Remote Sensing

Information gathered from a distance

Remote sensing—the acquisition of information from a distance—has had a profound impact on human affairs in modern history. This image of British Beach (the WWII code name for one landing spot of the June 1944 Normandy invasion) taken from a specially equipped US Army F5, reveals rifle troops on the beach coming in from various large and small landing craft. Seven decades later—even as its application has expanded to unimaginable reaches—remote sensing remains the most significant of reconnaissance and earth observation technologies.

Many platforms, many applications

Modern imagery is captured from a broad range of altitudes starting from ground level to over 22,000 miles above earth. The images that come from each altitude offer distinct advantages for each application. While not meant to be an exhaustive inventory, let’s take a look at some of the most commonly used sensor altitudes.

Geosynchronous—22,236 miles

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Five Story Maps That Remind Us to Be Prepared for the Storm

Flood season is upon us. Knowing ahead of time when a flood is going to happen, where flooding will occur, who will be affected, and how to respond is of great importance to reducing loss of life and property. Below you will find five story maps that show flood impacts and the damage each event had on life and property. These stories serve as reminders to plan ahead and be prepared for a significant flood event. Esri is partnering with communities, such as San Bernardino County, to mitigate the effects of flood events on lives and property.

1. 2015–2016 Winter Floods in Illinois

This story map visualizes damage assessment data, including nonresidential and residential. The blue polygon represents the final flood extent, showing how the flood spread throughout Alexander County. Knowing what areas will be impacted is critical in preparing for a flood. According to the NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), the 2015 flood across Missouri, Illinois, and the Midwest had an impact of an estimated $3 billion (http://moneynation.com/u-s-floods-cost-34-billion/). Throughout this story map, you can see the flood extent in Cape Girardeau, Alexander County, Jersey County, and Peoria County. These images have helped ongoing research efforts for testing and developing standards.

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