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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.

So many ways to apply mobile GIS and yet ….

May 16th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

Mobile GIS can be used in so many different ways. In combination with the cloud, this is a powerful new way to view, analyse and gather location based data.

And yet we remain in a world where paper and pen are still the main tools used in the field. In many organizations there is a reluctance to move to new mobile GIS technology. Many factors are behind this resistance:

1) Data security concerns.
2) Concerns over budget.
3) Worries over integration with existing business systems.
4) Lack of understanding of what is now possible.
5) Resistance to change.

Large organizations continue to have concerns over the cloud and the security of their data. These are quite legitimate. Which is why it is now possible to use cloud services behind organisational firewalls. Esri’s Portal is but one example.

Budget is often cited to us in conversations as a factor preventing a move to mobile enabled cloud GIS. We have found GIS today to be far cheaper than was once the case. No longer is there a need to buy expensive licenses like that for ArcGIS server. There are now many low priced cloud GIS options: ArcGIS Online, GISCloud, MapBox are examples. These provide easy upload, styling, mash up and publishing of maps. A slew of new free Web and mobile applications are now being made available. Esri have even gone as far as to develop (due in June/July 2014) an application builder. This will allow very easy building of GIS applications without the need for writing code.

Integration with existing business systems is an important conversation in the GIS community. GIS is at a tipping point; moving from a niche technology to core. You’ll see asked increasingly “what is your location strategy?”. This is a reference to integrating GIS platforms with existing business systems; SAP, COGNOS, Tableau. Mobile provides out of office access to organizational business systems, with GIS integrated into this mix, the data accessed can be related to current location.

Lack of understanding and resistance to change are natural. Anything new often is met with some degree of each of these. I’ve mentioned in previous posts my conversations around the emergence of the Internet in the 90’s. So often I heard, from large organizations: “We cannot possibly justify the expense of developing a Web presence today, maybe in a few years”. Early adopters, who realised and demonstrated the power of the Internet, quickly had all scrambling. We live in that world today with mobile GIS. Early adopters are demonstrating how mobile brings dramatic improvements in efficiency and thus cost savings. Here is an example applied to pipelines:

Resistance is futile. Actually resistance makes little sense. Putting off the adoption and implementation of mobile GIS places you potentially behind your competitors. But more importantly it misses the enormous opportunities to improve your organizational workflows, business insights while saving money.

Have you started using mobile GIS? Tell us more.

Related posts:

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

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