What I Hope to Learn at the Esri UC for Army

esriucarmy

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.

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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.

Networking

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.

Mobility

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 blackforestfire.gisinc.com 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 http://www.gisinc.com or call (205) 941-0442.

Contact
Rachel Ankersen, Marketing Coordinator, GISi
(205) 941-0442 x 120
rankersen@gisinc.com

Esri Southeast User Conference Recap

By: Kevin Stewart, Sonny Beech, Rachel Ankersen

The Southeast 500 – not a race, but rather the approximate number of attendees at this year’s Esri Southeast User Conference in Jacksonville, Florida (formerly Southeast Regional User Group – SERUG).  Overall we felt like it was another positive sign that State and Local Governments are on the road to recovery from previous years of economic challenges.  While most of the attendees hailed from Florida and Georgia, there was user representation from every state in the southeast region.

ArcGIS Online continues to be a major focus for Esri

ArcGIS Online was definitely the hot topic for Esri this year.  In fact it was mentioned so many times that we may have actually overheard the front desk employees of the hotel talking about it when we checked out on Wednesday.  To start the plenary session, Mike Dyer did a demo during his opening remarks, showing how he could import a spreadsheet of conference attendees into ArcGIS Online. He followed by showing the various ways the existing ArcGIS Online applications could be used.

Esri continues to pour resources into this initiative and users appear to understand it more and more.  With ArcGIS Online and Esri’s other initiative, ArcGIS for Local Government, Esri has provided a comprehensive platform to solve the most common problems in state and local government:

·         do more with less;

·         easily deploy maps & apps;

·         become more relevant – support the business;

·         the need for quick wins;

·         suffering from paralysis (have stagnated);

·         support for the increasing demand of citizen engagement.

Our biggest take away from the show is that the Esri platform and vision are all there for GIS shops to maximize their Esri software investment and support the business of Government.  As a service provider in this industry, this is very exciting.  In a very short period of time we can help a local government go from absolutely zero location technology to web and mobile applications.  It wasn’t very long ago a jump like that would have taken years let alone months.

In Conclusion

We felt like users are really getting it and conversations we had in the hallway and breakout sessions were evidence.  Esri’s messaging of targeted, focused applications is starting to resonate with users. There were conversations about users creating web maps for specific projects or to support a specific business function.  In fact we had one conversation with a user and their journey from custom applications that had handcuffed them in the past to becoming a pure out of the box shop.  This is a result to the work that Esri has done by creating targeted focused applications and making them available to the user community.  Overall, the break out sessions, plenary, and socials were intimate and a fun atmosphere of learning.

GISi team pictured left to right: Kevin Stewart, Rachel Ankersen, Sonny Beech

GISi team pictured left to right: Kevin Stewart, Rachel Ankersen, Sonny Beech

Location – The Tie that Binds

As an executive, how hard is it for you to get a complete view of what is really happening in all parts of your enterprise?  Is the information you receive fragmented?  Out of date?  Do you have multiple versions of the “truth”?  Can you spot trends?  Would you like to wake up in the morning and use your iPad to review KPI’s?  Can you can make timely decisions about your business with confidence?

In other words, are you getting the information you need, in the format you need, when and where you need it?

Organizations have worked for years to tear down information silos, but challenges remain.  If this is the case for you, consider utilizing geography as an integrating platform to organize, analyze, visualize, and share your enterprise data assets.

Spatial, or location information is contained in much business data.  For example, wouldn’t it be great to integrate and visualize:

  • Customer addresses and disaster event data
  • Supply chain requirements with weather and traffic data
  • Point of sale and demographic data
  • Indoor customer mobility patterns with product placement and customer demographic data
  • Regulatory compliance requirements with housing loans history
  • Store location and crime data
  • Location of related Tweets to marketing campaign actions
  • Asset information and maintenance compliance performance
  • The list goes on.

My point…… It makes good sense to utilize geography as an integration strategy because location is often the common denominator across disparate data assets and systems.  Once these items are integrated and organized around location, the next logical step is to use spatial technology to analyze, visualize, and share the data.

Esri, a company who has been building Geographic Information Systems (GIS) since the late 60’s has developed an entire technology stack for utilizing geography as an enterprise platform.  Wiring-up CRM’s, ERP’s, Data Warehouses, and other operational business systems to a geographic platform is not as hard as you might think.  If you want, you can start with small investments in technology and services and quickly develop new and powerful ways of running your business.

The trends are clear.  It will be common place for organizations to have specialized spatial analytics divisions.  Interactive maps will be a standard part of the executive’s BI dashboard.  Geographic platforms are increasingly being recognized as good options for dealing with Big Data, predictive analytics, risk analysis, and data from mobile devices, to name a few.  Geography is also a great platform to use for providing value added services for your customers.  Put simply, maps serve as a common language for effectively communicating complex ideas.

Geography as a technology platform is a game-changer that delivers a distinct competitive advantage.

Don’t get left behind.

Keith is the General Manager for GISi’s Private Sector Group.  Please contact him at kking@gisinc.com or 205-941-0442 x159 with questions or comments.

Local Government GIS in an “App for That” World

There is a paradigm shift that has already begun in our industry—a shift that can be traced back to the broader mobile technology field and the invention of Apple’s iPhone and their App Store’s “App for That” concept. The iPhone does not have one app with 500,000 features or functions, rather has access to over 500,000 apps that do 1-2 focused tasks. Furthermore, technology trends tell us that mobile is exploding and that we are just starting to scratch the surface. According to Gartner, the sales of mobile devices surpassed PC sales for the first time in 2011—something that wasn’t forecasted until 2013. Global Internet users will literally double over the next few years, but perhaps most interesting is that by 2015 most users (approximately 80%) will be accessing the Internet via a mobile device.  This is clearly a deployment platform that we all need to be planning for and gearing up to support.

Esri is keenly aware of these trends and has created two cost effective and closely related initiatives to support the growing demand, and what will be, the consumer expectation for targeted, focused maps and apps accessible from their mobile devices. Esri’s ArcGIS for Local Government and ArcGIS Online are cost effective initiatives aimed specifically to support local governments in this mobile, “app for that” world.

ArcGIS for Local Government includes a series of targeted, focused maps and apps built on a common information model that is designed to work together across various departments. The concept is “plug and play” for any of the Esri web, mobile, and desktop templates (apps) and the keys to all of this is adopting the local government information model.

ArcGIS Online is a cloud-based, collaborative content management system for maps, apps, data, and other geographic information. It is not a replacement for on-premise GIS implementations, rather works complimentary offering organizations an efficient way to disseminate information across their organization and optionally, to the public. ArcGIS Online has been designed so the maps run on all devices and the apps can be easily configured to support the following environments, iOS, (iPad and iPhone), the android devices, as well as Windows (phone, mobile and desktop). This presents a vast number of deployment strategies aimed to support the ever present and growing demand for mobile.

The paradigm shift is already happening. We see it today in our industry with Esri’s Resource Center and “ArcGIS for…” concept. The days of traditional GIS web viewers that deliver ArcMap on the web will quickly become an artifact of the past. Soon our products and offerings in GIS will be required to support mobile accessibility and designed to solve targeted, focused tasks that make all of our cities and counties operate more efficiently.

This speaks to why we, at GISi, are “all in” on these Esri initiatives where we started as a pilot partner for ArcGIS for Local Government over a year ago and have evolved into one of a few Esri partners that have been designated, by Esri, with the ArcGIS for Local Government partner specialty. Over the last year we have helped over a dozen local governments with implementation and have positioned them to leverage this new paradigm. From our perspective, the time is now to get on board and learn how these initiatives can complement your offerings.