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 Mobile GIS & LBS
Matt Sheehan
Matt Sheehan
Matt holds an MSc in Geography and GIS. He has been working with clients solving problems with GIS for over 17 years. Matt founded WebMapSolutions whose mission is to put innovative, intuitive GIS driven applications into the hands of new and existing users.

5 Powerful New Ways Mobile GIS can Help your Organization

January 23rd, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

In this post we discuss 5 powerful new ways mobile GIS can help your organization.

No more Pen and Paper

A better title here might have been ‘replacing outmoded inefficient work practices’. Still much work done in the field relies on pen and paper; notes, paper maps, forms and documents. Today we can use smartphone and tablets to store all information in one place in a digital format. Digital format I hear you say? A format which allows us to push all your data into a central computer system. No more pulling together notes made in the field and generating spreadsheets, or requiring data entry folk to take your paper documents and transpose that data into the central data system. Cut out the middle man, upload all your field recorded data directly into the system yourself via your smartphone or iPad.

Do I hear you say more efficient?

If the data has a location component, which is most of the time, we can record current GPS location, maybe do reverse geo-coding to convert a GPS point to an address. Tying GIS into this system then provides the spatial analysis and visualization component. Our recent blog post talks more about replacing pen and paper with mobile technology

Dynamic Data while in the Field

Choosing new store locations is an expensive and time consuming job. Get the location wrong and those expenses can sky-rocket. Often senior executives are involved in the decision process. Imagine that while on location these executives have access to dynamic data. So pull out their iPad, use GPS or tap a point on a GIS map and get back key data on the surrounding area. Imagine the possibilities of gathering data dynamically while on site; demographics, drive times, and generating reports which include trends over time. That is all now possible using mobile enabled GIS.

Below is a video showing a GIS app built by WebmapSolutions, running on an iPad, which uses the new GeoEnrichment service from Esri to generate dynamic demographic data:

Mobile GIS for the Non-GIS User

GIS was once a technology used only by GIS practitioners. A staggering useful tool used by so few. Almost a crime. Today all that has changed. The mantra in 2014 is GIS for all. Now we can empower all employees with GIS technology. Much of our work as a company now centers around building GIS applications for non-GIS users. So using the power of GIS to provide location based information but hiding the complexities of GIS. Simple, intuitive workflows is key. For example:

Transportation maintenance workers are now using GIS to record work they are doing on culverts, road sections, signs. They are recording the location of new assets, maybe a new set of traffic lights, and uploading that data into a central GIS. All with little or no training.

Red Cross staff are helping local government GIS folk with disaster management and assessment. Using GIS apps loaded on their iPads they are now able to assess property damage, record conversations with affected homeowners, take pictures of damaged homes and upload this all to a GIS. Dramatically improving the decision making process.

GIS on your PC, Smartphone and Tablet

GIS anywhere, anytime, any place and on any device!

One GIS Web application which can be used on your PC, smartphone and tablet.

Welcome to 2014. No longer are we locked into office only GIS access. Today we can have universal access. Through the magic of mobile, cloud technology and responsive design. Sounds complicated? As a company we have been building these types of GIS applications for years. Today we can focus on the user rather than the technology. See our blog post on the possibilities brought by mobile and cloud technology.

Maybe you have been working with a real estate focused GIS Web application on your PC in the office. You’ve found the perfect properties based on a families preferences. Load the app up on your iPad and while you are taking the family to view each property, use the same application to help while you are in the field. Map each home, rework search criteria as the family give feedback, show the family information about the surrounding demographics at each potential home.

Now that is a powerful use of mobile GIS technology.

GPS with GIS = A New and Powerful Combination

By being able to provide a GIS with our current location using the GPS on a mobile device, we can discover and visualize information about our current location. More than that we can be alerted when we are in specific location. This is new, and very powerful.

Imagine being a maintenance worker driving past a set of traffic lights and being alerted that an inspection was required.

A construction worker being on a new construction site being able to visualize the underground pipes.

Waypoints (tracking path), routing, mobile data collection and editing the list goes on.

The possibilities for the application of mobile GIS are endless.

Wondering how to start using mobile GIS in your organization? Give us a call on 801-733-0723 and share your thoughts and ideas.

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Categories: ArcGIS Online, cloud GIS, Mobile ArcGIS, Web and mobile GIS

One Response to “5 Powerful New Ways Mobile GIS can Help your Organization”

  1. Carl Reed says:

    Matt –

    Enjoyed the article.

    Historically, the ability to use a mobile device (cell-phone) for access to GIS functionality has roots in the mid 1990 time-frame. The following from a 1996 press release from Genasys (perhaps too early in the adoption cycle?):

    Description: Allows Web application designers to add powerful geographical information systems (GIS) capabilities to their Web sites. Fully compatible with today’s most popular Web tools and browsers including Netscape(tm) and Java(tm), it provides an Internet gateway into Genasys’ full line of vector and raster GIS, imaging and metadata management products. Unlike simple map display tools, it allows companies to provide their Web site users with access to sophisticated spatial analysis that provides custom directions. Users can find the nearest office to their home, access a map and receive printed or faxed detailed directions on how to get there. Fully integrated vector and raster GIS products allow users to combine scanned raster images, vector data and analytical raster data in the same image for use as backgrounds in Web pages. Genasys’ Spatial Web Broker also provides access to raster spatial analysis including 3-D visualization, volumetric calculations, slope, viewshed and reclassification.

    Any cell phone that supported a web browser could access the Genasys GIS functionality via the Web Broker.



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