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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.

Is new GIS walking before it runs?

September 14th, 2015 by Matt Sheehan

I remember clearly the first music album I bought. Then we listened to vinyl LPS’s. I was 18, still living in England, and between school and University. The album was by The Tubes. One rather odd song stood out for me: What do you want from life?

At 18 it was a question I was beginning to ask myself. For me then my immediate focus was on geography. I never gave location or spatial a thought. Geography for me was about process. How was that wave cut platform formed? Intrigue over U shaped valleys. Marvelling at thunderstorms. On and on.

The world of work was a rude awakening for me. Understanding, and pulling disparate information together was replaced by a checklist of what seemed like pointless tasks. This was not what I wanted from life!

Moving to the US gave me another chance to jump back into academia. Specifically 3 years of GIS and a Masters degree. This ultimately led me to starting WebMapSolutions.

So why leap into the risky world of starting a company? Let me tell you ..

GIS the new and amazing

Three worlds:

1. Mobile – Suddenly with low cost mobile devices – smartphones and tablets – location became important to everybody.

2. Cloud – Location (GIS) services hosted in the amazon cloud etc became available at anytime (without the need for expensive, complex set ups). And with releases like ArcGIS Online, GIS was suddenly accessible and easy to use for all.

3. Process – For me watching, and understanding the revolution cloud and mobile bring to GIS and geography as a discipline. And building a company around that revolution.

I could see how finally the closed narrow “map expert” world we had lived in was going away. To be replaced by a new exciting use of GIS and location technology to answer questions. An endless stream of location based questions.

But, I’m confused. I’m reading, talking, listening, running a location technology company and let me tell you I do not understand. Not at all. Everything seems to be moving slowly.

Is that just our experience?

And if is not then why?

Is new GIS walking before it runs?

If this is a reality, my suspicion is this slowness is driven by the new world of GIS being confusing, and a little threatening. The value message has yet to be fully realised. Cloud based mobile GIS turns our world on its head. Maybe that is just it. For those familiar with the technology it is such a huge change, many are still wary. Those new to GIS are struggling to see the advantages this technology brings to their organizations. GIS is far more than simply publishing a spreadsheet to ArcGIS Online. Or indeed just about a map.

Part of our service offering at WebMapSolutions are GIS fast tracks. Low cost jump start implementation packages. Helping organizations get up and running or advance their use of the ArcGIS Platform. Simple, focused, accelerated help. I’ll be honest, this area of our service business is slow. Quite the opposite of what we expected.

Such huge changes take time. I think GIS is walking before it runs.

For me, what i want from my working life is to apply geography (using GIS) to solve problems. Location based problems. And there are so many. With cloud and mobile we now have all the pieces in place to add incredible value to organizations. But revolutions do not happen overnight. New non-traditional approaches and a degree of patience would appear to be today’s reality.

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

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