Tag Archives: web GIS

Fact – Maps Run Your Operations

2017 Esri Public Sector CIO Summit

Written by Mike Dyer, Business Development Lead

Where? This is perhaps the most common question in government. Where informs our decision-making. Where improves our operational efficiency and quality of service to citizens. Where also enhances civic engagement.

Governments of all sizes recognize the critical role that spatial data plays in developing smart communities. Most governments have had GIS implementations in place for years, but CIOs today are looking for the practical knowledge they need to modernize those implementations that help enable smarter government.

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Into the Woods Using the US Forest Service Visitor App

USFS Trail Web App

If you have ever camped, hiked, or fished in a national forest, you probably picked up a visitor map at the forest’s office. The first-rate cartography of these pocket maps is sure to get you to your favorite campground or … Continue reading

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GIS Provides an Open Platform for Global Engagement on the Sustainable Development Goals

By Clint Brown – Director, Product Engineering, Esri

At Esri, we believe that geographic information system (GIS) technology provides a critical framework for understanding, communicating, and organizing information about our world. Underpinning our work at Esri is the belief that applied geographic science provides a powerful medium for understanding complex challenges and that, through the application of GIS, we can explore possible solutions. In light of this, we have been closely tracking the process of establishing the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), creating capabilities that will help create and monitor the SDG data indicators. We believe that Esri’s ArcGIS platform is highly relevant as an applied toolset to achieve the goals set forth in the 2030 Agenda.

This story map is about the use of GIS to support SDGs. Visit sdgs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=c921e7d2cfef4c8ab98b839e27eda74a

A primary goal of GIS is to provide a framework for organizing and communicating the collective global knowledge about our world and the impact of human activities. GIS and maps are used in all fields across every nation, providing a universal language for communicating and sharing ideas and insight. They offer the unique capability of integrating many different kinds of data. GIS uses spatial location and digital map overlays to organize the content of our world. And overlays can be used to integrate information and analyze relationships among and between all SDG initiatives.

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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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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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Smart Mapping Workflows

Your world is full of data, and maps help you to make sense of it. There is a growing need to turn geographic data into compelling maps. All users want to create beautiful, interactive maps and infographics with live data, easily and with confidence. The smart mapping mission is to provide a new kind of strong “cartographic artificial intelligence” that enables virtually anyone to visually analyze, create, and share professional quality maps in just a few minutes, with minimal mapping knowledge or software skills.

Smart mapping is designed to give ArcGIS users the confidence and ability to quickly make maps that are visually pleasing and effective. Cartographic expertise is “baked” into ArcGIS, meaning it is part of the fundamental user experience of using ArcGIS. The map results that you see in front of you are driven by the nature of the data itself, the kind of map you want to create, and the kind of story you want to tell.

The best thematic maps apply thoughtful analysis of the underlying data to a set of map parameters designed to bring focus and clarity to the topic. Here, the author has positioned the handles controlling symbol size (running beside the histogram) to emphasize areas with household incomes over $100,000. Great maps relate the data back to the real world, using visual cues that immediately highlight the message you want to convey.

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Imagery deepens understanding

GIS technology is both intuitive and cognitive. It combines powerful visualization and mapping with strong analytic and modeling tools. Remotely sensed earth observation—generally referred to in GIS circles simply as imagery—is the definitive visual reference at the heart of GIS. It provides the key—the geographic Rosetta stone that unlocks the mysteries of how the planet operates and brings it to life. When we see photos of Earth taken from above, we understand immediately what GIS is all about.

The story of imagery as an earth observation tool begins with photography, and in the early part of the twentieth century, photography underwent extraordinary changes and social adoption. Photos not only offered humanity a new, accessible kind of visual representation—they also offered a change in perspective. The use of color photography grew. Motion pictures and television evolved into what we know today. And humans took to the sky flying in airplanes, which, for the first time, enabled us to take pictures of the earth from above. It was a time of transformation in mapping and observation, providing an entirely new way of seeing the world.

World War II: Reconnaissance and intelligence gathering

During World War II, major advances in the use of imagery for intelligence were developed. The Allied Forces began to use offset photographs of the same area of interest, combining them to generate stereo photo pairs for enhancing their intelligence gathering activities. In one of many intelligence exercises called Operation Crossbow, pilots flying in planes—modified so heavily for photo gathering that there was no room for weapons—captured thousands of photographs over enemy-held territory. These resulting collections required interpretation and analysis of hundreds of thousands of stereo-photographic pairs by intelligence analysts.

Stereoscopic imagery was instrumental in identifying the facilities of Nazi rocket programs. This photo shows stereo glasses used for viewing offset photo pairs.

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New Orleans at Esri UC – a Behind the Scenes Look and Repeatable Solutions

This year the City of New Orleans showcased their great work at the Esri User Conference Plenary. A major theme of their presentation was citizen engagement and creating a real two-way engagement enabling citizens to take in civic responsibility. New Orleans is doing outstanding work, and all of the solutions are configurations that can be repeated for any local government.

The first demonstration was the Property Survey solution in which we have enlisted User Conference attendees to help survey their properties for blight at https://propertysurvey.nola.gov/photosurvey/ This solution can be useful for a variety of applications such as code enforcement, emergency management assessment or tax appraisers. The Photo Survey Solution from the Esri Solutions gallery will allow you to process geo-tagged photos and an application to set up randomized surveys as New Orleans has done. Since 16,000 UC attendees were enlisted to help assess properties and shared on social media, Esri Managed Services was used to make sure the underlying infrastructure was ready for reliability and scalability.

New Orleans Property Survey

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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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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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