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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.

Deconstructing the problem to find a solution using GIS

April 13th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

Last night was heart wrenching. My daughters U15 soccer team began their new season after promotion, last year, to the top P1 bracket. Up against the best teams in this age group in Utah, last night they played the best team in P1: Celtic Storm. A fast, good passing team with top players in all positions. Our Blue Knights team started on the back foot. Though under pressure and feeling panicked in possession, they held firm. 0-0 at half time. The second half started much like the first, resolute defending relying on break away’s. Celtic were becoming frustrated. But kept pressing. We were tiring but still in the game forcing their goalkeeper into an outstanding save. Still 0-0. Then with 20 seconds left. Celtic crossed from the right. A mis-communication between defender and goalkeeper and an easy tap in for the Celtic forward. 1-0. And end of the game.

I fell to my knees in despair.

How then does this related to GIS? Patience dear reader.

After the game, the coach and I sat down and started deconstructing. Forgetting, for a moment, the many positives we saw during the game.

What was the problem?
We lost the game.
What was the story?
Much of the game was played in our half of the field. Possession was heavily in their favour. That pressure increased as the game progressed and we became more tired. A mistake created their scoring opportunity.
The analysis?
Did the mistake lose us the game? Sure. But mistakes happen. We could focus there; work on cutting out mistakes, but was that the real problem? No. The real problem was that we could not possess the ball. We gave the ball away too easily and cheaply. Making good passes when under pressure would have changed the game and the result.
The solution?
Small sided practice games limiting touches to 1, 2 or 3.

This is a blog post about deconstructing problems. The beautiful game (football as those outside of the US call it) is a perfect metaphor for much in life.

Often when we are faced with problems our first challenge is where to start. My field crews spend too long trying to find the location of their next job. Our discovery of sites for new retail locations is expensive and inefficient involving sending teams out to drive cities. My commercial real estate agents spend more time gathering information about new properties for sale and the benefits of a location, than selling. In GIS historically that starting point has been the technology.

Defining and deconstructing are key places to start our journey. First what is the problem (lost time, cutting costs, more accurate results)? Next, walk through the story: discuss, break apart, understand. Deeper, more focused analysis then leads to a solution path. Do you implement this solution or somebody else? That’s your decision.

But if you have not properly deconstructed the problem you will never arrive at a satisfactory solution.

Contact us on 801-733-0723.

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

One Response to “Deconstructing the problem to find a solution using GIS”

  1. Alejandro Guzmán says:

    I really liked this post specially where you mention how hard it is to know where to start when a problem arises. Another interesting point made here is the amount of time that retail brokers spend gathering the information about the locations more than selling them. Definitely, GIS systems are a key component that provide the retail industry with competitive advantage. With the use of their technologies to make retail brokers jobs more efficient.

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