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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.

GIS Has Changed Have You?

May 31st, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

Inertia. Its a challenge for all organizations. Change can be difficult. Adopting new ways, workflows and processes. But change is ongoing and with technology, the pace of change is increasing. Hanging on to old ways and methods may put you at a disadvantage to your competition. In this post we will discuss 4 ways to better use GIS.

GIS Has Changed Have You?

From Desktop GIS to Cloud and Mobile GIS

We often have conversations with organizations who use desktop GIS applications like ArcMap or QGIS only. Wanting to share maps and GIS analysis more widely, the conversation usually resolves around moving to cloud based GIS. Today there are many ways to share your maps and GIS tools with others in your organization: office based and mobile staff. New proprietary and open source releases have made moving from desktop to distributed GIS far easier.

How about those who have built desktop GIS applications, wanting to provide mobile access to their tools? Again building on top of existing solutions or developing your own GIS platform is today far easier. But critical to success is careful planning and execution (more on this in a future article). As we have discussed with an number of customers, moving from a desktop only to distributed GIS solution is increasingly an organizational requirement. Doing nothing, or half building a mobile, cloud based solution could prove to be a serious business mistake.

Super Flexible Web GIS Applications

More than any other type of GIS application, Web GIS applications are the most flexible. Not only can they be used on any device (PC, smartphone, tablet), online or offline, they are easy to configure and customize. Our absolute favourite GIS application type is widget based. That is an application which can be easily modified (often using a configuration file) to provide those tools needed by staff using the application. With ArcGIS we develop client applications with both the configurable map viewer and Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS. Both provide maximum flexibility for staff across the organization.

From Map Making to Business Problem Solving

One of the more popular blog posts I have written was entitled: Please stop calling me the mapping guy. GIS has for too long been seen as mapping software ONLY. Nothing could be further from the truth. That would be like calling Business Intelligence (BI) platforms (Tableau, Cognos, SAP Business Objects etc) as charting software! GIS provides business intelligence and needs to be viewed and used to solve business problems. With our From WHERE to THERE Process we have been helping organizations make new use of GIS for fast ROI.

Access, Awareness, Analytics

I’m hesitant to use the term GIS platform, since I still feel the term is poorly understood. But today GIS is a connected, holistic solution. No longer isolated pieces: desktop applications, GIS servers and GIS applications. Today every part of a GIS is integrated. So push you data from your desktop GIS application and publish it as a map layer to your GIS platform. Create a map using this map layer in combination with others. Then share this map with other users in the organizations through Web and mobile applications. I think Bill Meehan at Esri summarizes nicely the advantages of adopting new platform based GIS technology:

1. Access – Serving up all your data stored in a GIS to all in your organization, regardless of device (PC, smartphone, tablet), platform (Windows, iOS, Android), at any time and anywhere.
2. Awareness – Decision makers can gain a better understanding of what’s going on right now—in real time.
3. Analysis – Arguably the most strategic and, maybe, powerful: analysis is about connecting the dots and getting to the why of what’s happening.

Change can be good. And today GIS is being used alongside other business focused solutions to solve organizational problems. Time for change?

If you have a WHERE question or location based business problem tell us more. Contact us on 801-733-0723.

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

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