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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.

Stay focused on simple

April 28th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

I like the word simple. Easy is another favourite.


We live in an increasingly complex world. Its confusing. But think about it; complexity is really only simple pieces combined. Like a car engine; a combination of parts which together form a complex system. Working within complexity demands understanding or focusing on the individual pieces which make up the whole.

GIS is complex. Lots of pieces to the pie. With cloud GIS, more pieces have just been added.

How often do you have client conversations which make your head spin? Detailed descriptions of requirements.

Our job as location technology experts is to simplify complexity. That applies to all areas of the discipline; business and technical.

Let’s break it down. First, do you understand the problem? What is at the core of a clients requirements, a request from your boss, a bug in the code? Next get some context, how does this problem fit into the bigger picture? This is often an information gathering exercise. With a clear understanding of the problem and context, we can start to investigate potential solutions. Time and cost may figure into this investigation. With this third phase complete, both the need and potential solutions should be clearly defined; this may be a formal agreed statement of work, or informal. Implementation follows next; an iterative process, again with simplicity at its core.

Let’s illustrate this processing with a disaster management scenario:

Problem: Disaster teams would like to improve field data collection by using mobile GIS.
Context: How are the teams currently working, what are the processes in place?
Investigation: Are there mobile solutions available or templates which can be extended, or is a custom solution required?
Implementation: Build out a solution based on the statement of work or equivalent.

We are all guilty of getting lost in complexity. But staying focused on simple is a great formula for success in our working, and non working, lives.

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

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