Monday Evening Esri UC Lightning Talks from the GISi Crew

lightning talks

One more week until we get to board our planes and head over to beautiful San Diego for the Esri UC.  You wouldn’t believe how much planning and preparation we’ve been doing lately just to make everything not only go smoothly (as in our crew shows up and has hotel rooms waiting for them) but also truly special for our clients and the people we hope to meet and network with.  One very awesome detail on our list – Lightning Talks.  Like lightning, they’re quick…as in 5 minutes quick.  But don’t let the name fool you; these short presentations are always jam-packed with GIS awesomeness.  For the UC we’ve got three of our own presenting on Monday night.  Here’s the run-down:

Topic: Leap Motion

Presenter: Danny Bradshaw

Description: The Leap motion controller is an amazing new device for human computer interaction.  Will it be a breakthrough device in web mapping?  Time will tell.  We’ll discuss our experience with this cutting edge device.

Topic: Indoor Navigation

Presenter: Michael Healander

Description: Having trouble finding your way around the conference? We have the app for you. Come see how we built the Esri UC GISi indoor mapping, positioning and navigation mobile app.

Topic: Making Great Maps

Presenter: Jonah Adkins

Description: The session will provide an overview of best practices that can quickly implemented to improve the map creation process, with an emphasis on current trends in design.

So come Monday night and check them out…you definitely won’t want to miss it.  Esri UC Lightning talks run from 4:30 – 6:00 at the SDCC, Ballroom 20 D.  See you there!


Top 10 Esri UC Target Items for Navy

By: Colby Free

Given the number of events, sessions, special interest groups, demos and vendors offered by the 2013 Esri UC, it’s a good idea to have a list of target items in mind going in; specifically those items that will be of interest and value to the Navy team here at GISi, as well as our Navy clients.  So I put the question to my GISi colleagues on our Navy team for discussion during our weekly program review.  Here’s what we came up with.

The top 10 in no particular order are:

  1. Qualify new capabilities that improve, build upon and extend the Navy’s current investments.
  2. Identify new Data Management and Data Service capabilities
  3. Qualify new Image Server extension
  4. Target capabilities that factor in the current fiscal climate and supports solutions that allows a program’s capabilities to scale efficiently and effectively meeting growing demand
  5. Look for new or existing technology that bridges between an enterprise GIS and business line systems of record and authoritative data
  6. Explore Business Intelligence software and tools
  7. Lessons learned in transitioning to 10.1 as it relates to the Navy’s unique architecture
  8. Value of 10.1 for Navy business users and traditional GIS users
  9. Disconnected editing models and methods for a large enterprise
  10. Where does Portal for ArcGIS “fit”

Anything missing that we should add?  Please comment or send us an e-mail and let us know! ( /

We’ll also be looking forward to seeing the Navy represent in the Map Gallery, Sessions, Lightning Talks, and in other conference channels.

Hope to see you there,


What I Hope to Learn at the Esri UC for Army


By: Ryan Heitz

As we approach the Esri International Users Conference, I’m excited about the development of GIS technology, especially as it relates to further supporting the Army.  Specifically, there are several areas where I’m looking to learn and apply some recent developments to Army solutions.

Business Intelligence and System Integration – It is becoming ever easier to integrate geospatial technologies with traditional business intelligence systems.  This is allowing users, who seldom interacted with maps or had the capability to visualize their data on a map, to now create their own maps and connect valuable business data to geospatial locations.  At the UC I’m hoping to learn how Esri BI technology is supporting the idea of bringing location analytics to organizations.  The Army and DoD have a growing number of enterprise business systems built on BI platforms.  Now, the challenge is to geo-enable those systems to add GIS to business analytics.  I’m hoping the Esri UC will provide insights into the advances with BI integration.  In particular, I’m interested in BI for energy management and sustainability.

Asset Management – The Army maintains an enormous number of assets – both fixed and mobile.  At the same time we are constantly trying to do more with less – to find ways to more efficiently manage and utilize assets to accomplish diverse missions from military operations, installation support, environmental sustainability, energy management, and supporting training to sustain military readiness.  Applying GIS technology to managing fixed and mobile assets is a key application of the technology that can bring efficiencies and return on investment (ROI).  I am looking forward to learning how the Mobile Collector, GeoEvent Processor, and Operation Dashboard can be applied inside Army organizations to fuel:

  • Awareness of fixed asset quantities, locations and status
  • “See” where mobile assets are in real-time using the GeoEvent Processor
  • Make it easier to collect the data using the GeoCollector

Collaboration and Sharing Portal – Army always needs to share information more easily.  Geospatial information is becoming more ubiquitous.  However, the unique security challenges of Army information makes it difficult to implement the tools and capabilities for ArcGIS Online for organizations in the Army.  Portal for ArcGIS represents a platform that can be installed securely on premise and help organizations share and collaborate on maps that gives the same features of ArcGIS Online.  This makes it easy to share maps, manage geospatial content, and support group work flows, behind the firewall and integrated with the necessary security models.

It is an exciting time in the industry and we are looking forward to the UC and learning about how these advances can be applied to the Army operational and business needs.

An Esri UC 2013 Wish List for State and Local Gov

dawns wishlist

By: Dawn Siegel

The weeks leading up the Esri User Conference feels nearly like Christmas in July to me.  As the date nears and the anticipation builds, I ponder how will we be inspired, what new services, new templates, new solutions, and what new buzz words will make the plenary this year.  As mapping applications dance in my head I begin to think about how location technology will improve government services this year.  What new services can be spatially enabled to benefit your communities and best serve your constituents?

So I thought it might be neat to share my Christmas-like enthusiasm about the UC in the form of a list…a wish list to be exact.  These are the five things I’m really hoping to see and experience at the event.


This is an obvious one for me. I always look forward to meeting new people, catching up with old friends, and exploring the Map Gallery to get inspired by the creative work the GIS community creates. With over 15,000 Esri users, and 100 speakers from over 118 counties we are bound to meet some great people.  I’m hoping you all make a point to stop by and plug-in at the GISi booth #2417 to introduce yourself and tell me how you are improving government services with GIS.

ArcGIS for Local Government Solutions

To date, there are about 50 maps and apps that support a range of government activities across various departments, such as land records and taxation, public works, facilities management, elections, emergency response, planning and development, and public health.  I look forward to learning what new maps and applications will be released from Esri and the rest of the GIS community in Esri’s new Marketplace.

Expanding the Platform

As Esri continues to expand their mapping platform, I hope you explore new methods for delivering new and expanded services to your government users.   Whether you are creating new applications leveraging ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS for Server, ArcGIS for Desktop Esri’s mapping platform continues to deliver and improve the ability to explore information from governments.


With the continued move to support mobile devices by State and Local Governments to engage their constituents, save money and allow their workers to access data while in the field, we are hearing requests from our clients that they want editing capability now as well.  Because of these request I am eager to explore options for disconnected editing with ArcGIS Online and how it works across the different mobile platforms.

Data, data everywhere

Through ArcGIS online, more data is readily available at your fingertips for analysis and use. There are many options to explore and leverage commercial and community data resources to expand this analysis. At the User Conference, I am anxious to see and learn more about the geo event processor and how it can help our clients understand what data they can push to their citizens to create awareness on improving government services as well as what data can they push to their mobile workers, commissioners and councilman to keep them current and notified? This is an exciting advancement for Esri that I am eager to learn more about.

These are just a few of the things on my list that I’m hoping to get out of the conference.  The rest of the UC wish list usually involves things like a complimentary hotel room upgrade, good travel weather for the flight, and no flight delays!  But I think it’s safe to say I’m thoroughly excited about this year’s UC and the wishing and pondering has officially begun.  I would love to know your thoughts and what you’re hoping to get out of the conference, either from a State and Local Government perspective (my specialty)…or just in general.  Feel free to comment below and share your thoughts.

Find the Right Location Tool for the Job at the Esri UC

By: Keith King

Since Father’s day around the corner, I will start off with something my dad has said to me often; “Son, if something is worth doing then it is worth getting the right tools for the job.”  It took the purchase of a house and a couple of failed home-improvement efforts to fully understand the simple wisdom of those words.

When the location of a business’ assets, store fronts, customers, marketing efforts, or employees impacts the effectiveness, safety, or profitability of a business, it is worth having tools designed with geography in mind.

So let’s stick with my Dad’s “right-tool-for-the-job” concept for a moment as I pose a question:  Have you ever tried to trim hedges with a steak knife?  Probably not, but you likely can imagine how well that job would go.  Business leaders are beginning to realize that the use of spreadsheets, graphs, and charts for data with GPS points, zip codes, addresses, linear references, etc. is a lot like…well, trimming hedges with a steak knife.

Esri has been at the forefront of building spatially centric tools for years.  And this year, at their July User’s Conference in San Diego, I expect to see many new tools for business.  Here are few things I think we will learn about.

New Lenses to Eliminate Geographic Blindness.  Esri will give us new tools to integrate maps and spatial analysis into our everyday workflows and within our existing productivity tools through their ArcGIS Online platform.

Mechanisms for Integration.  I’ve said it before, Geography is the tie that binds.  Esri will roll out new systems for integrating and managing disparate data sources and systems.  This will help organizations get one and only one “version of the truth”

New Accessories for BI:  Esri has already released an add-in for IBM Cognos that allows users to integrate interactive maps into their BI dashboard.  I expect to see more announcements around add-ins for Microstrategy, and possibly for Oracle, Microsoft, SAP or Tibco products.  There could be others, but I do expect one glaring omission from this list…SAS.

Geographic Enrichment and Spatial Analytics:  Marketers, Merchandisers, and Call Center Managers pay attention here.  Esri has the data and analytic tools to take your product marketing, product localization mix, and your customer experience to the next level. 

Systems to Automatically Push/Pull Data Based on Location:  Do you want to automatically order your coffee every morning when you get within a block of your local Starbucks?  Or, say you are standing in your pipeline right-of-way; do you want to know where the pipeline is?  Where the nearest shut-off valve is?  What is flowing under your feet at that instant, the temp and pressure?  From coffee to oil and beyond, Esri is going to make all this feasible with their geofencing and geotrigger tools

On-the-Fly Processing:  Esri is going to make it easy to process, visualize, and analyze incoming location data in real time.  Their geo-event processor will be a must-have for logistics companies.  Also, organizations who do crowdsourcing or reputation management will love the ability to visualize real-time location trending in social media.

Pathways to Big Data:  Expect to see announcements for easier integration with Haddoop and Teradata

Imagery and Imagery Management:  Need Imagery?  Esri is going to show you easy and relatively cheap ways to get it through their ArcGIS Online platform.  Or, have you already invested a lot of money in imagery or LIDAR?  Esri is going to announce new and easier ways for you to unlock those assets so you can maximize the return on those large investments.

Tools for Building Tools:  Do you need to build a quick and simple application to track a couple of hundred volunteers?  Do you need a way to take an inventory of light poles but don’t have the time or budget for a custom application?  Esri is going to make it possible to build our own tools easily and quickly with their Operations Dashboard, out of the box widgets, and application templates.

Resources for Startup Companies:  Esri systems have historically been designed for large enterprise deployments.  That has all changed.  Expect many more announcements on how Esri is supporting the consumer and start-up communities

Delivering GIS as a Value Added Service:  Esri is going roll out tools that equip Esri customers to provide their customers with location based tools.  If you are in business you probably need to retain clients, increase margins, and improve customer satisfaction.  Perhaps GIS as-a-service is a way to get that done.

In wrapping up, I am sure there will be many additional announcements and new tools to test drive in San Diego this year.  I am looking forward to the conference and to finding out what they’ve been cooking up for the business world.  And since business is worth doing, it is worth the time and money to get the right tools (Thanks Dad).

One final thought, if you find yourself in the great outdoors doing yard work this weekend, keep the steak knife in the drawer.  Go to Lowe’s and get yourself a hedge trimmer instead.  Steak knives and hedges don’t mix.  Trust me on this one.

GISi Releases Black Forest Fire Consolidated Public Information Map

black forest fire

Vital Information for Fire Disaster Assistance

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – June 14, 2013 – GISi has launched a detailed public information map tool, powered by Esri and created and maintained by GISi developer Joe Pfeffer, to help aid in disaster assistance for the Black Forest Fire that has spread in parts of central Colorado.

In addition to zoom and pan capabilities, the interactive map provides location-based information on the following:

  • Disaster assistance centers
  • Public evacuation shelters
  • Food donation sites
  • Distribution centers
  • RVs/campers sites
  • Food assistance sites
  • Mail pickup areas
  • Reduced rate lodging
  • Small animal shelters
  • Large/exotic animal shelters (and indicates whether it’s open or full)
  • Structure status – whether homes are partially damaged or destroyed
  • Evacuation areas – mandatory, voluntary, and pre-evacuation
  • Current wind speeds
  • Current fire perimeters

GISi hopes users will find the map to be a useful resource for all in need of public data regarding this natural disaster.  The interactive map can be found at and will be updated as further information becomes publically available.

About GISi

GISi is an award-winning GIS professional services firm located in Birmingham, Ala., with offices throughout the United States.  GISi has a passion for delivering customer driven location technology solutions to federal, state and local governments, and commercial organizations.  To learn more, visit or call (205) 941-0442.

Rachel Ankersen, Marketing Coordinator, GISi
(205) 941-0442 x 120

A GIS Developer’s Take on Service Excellence

gis developer

By: Kevin Bupp, Sr GIS Developer

You can probably think of a time where, as a customer, you were extremely satisfied with the service you received.  Conversely, you can probably think of even more examples where you were not so happy. Service Excellence can be somewhat difficult to explain, but we all know when we have received it, and more importantly when we haven’t.  It doesn’t take much to severely impact the relationship with a customer for good or for ill.  Sometimes, something as simple as always having a cheerful attitude when meeting with a customer can make the difference between a merely satisfying experience and a truly delightful experience.

It is important to note that “Service Excellence” does not mean to “Exceed Expectations.”  While exceeded expectations are always welcomed by the customer, it is not a good long term solution for a company and is difficult to operationalize.  Furthermore, service excellence is not limited to interactions with the customer, but also applies to co-workers, friends, and family.

The following list, while nowhere close to being comprehensive, provides some keys I feel are important for providing excellent service:

  • Deliver what was promised – This is a fundamental component of service excellence.  If you make promises that you can’t keep, the rest doesn’t matter.  Honor your commitments.
  • Deal well with problems and queries – No project is problem free.  How we deal with problems when they arise makes a lasting impression with a customer.
  • Provide a personal touch – Remember that your customers are people too, respect their time and presence.  Listen.
  • Go the extra mile – Very often it’s the little touches here and there that can add up.  The goal is not to simply satisfy requirements, but to create a delightful experience.

As a development team, it is important to regularly look for opportunities to provide service excellence to a customer.  Part of Service Excellence is identifying the areas where you can do something simple that will have a dramatic impact on the customer.  These “opportunities” do not necessarily need to take more time or resources, but with proper planning and design can be achieved.

Service excellence is something that everyone should be cognizant of during every aspect of a project. When everyone works towards providing a delightful experience, not only does the client feel the effects, but so does the entire team.