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Have story maps finally come of age?

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

Let me be brutally honest. I did not like the first set of Esri story map templates released. They were far too GIS-ey. When I shared them with my non-GIS, non-mappy friends there were a few raised eyebrows: “How do I use this bloody thing” I heard often. In my mind, story maps were a good idea, but the early releases missed the mark. That said, the new generation of Esri story maps have really caught my attention.

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3 Common ArcGIS Mistakes

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

The new ArcGIS platform has helped broaden the spectrum of ‘where’ questions which subscribers can answer. Publishing data and generating maps has never been easier. Configuring simple map based web applications which provide focused functionality (editing, public engagement etc) is simple. But we see 3 common mistakes being made when using the platform to answer ‘where’ questions.

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Teasing out the (GIS) Story

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Mr L and I were chatting the other day about the problem to story path. It was in the back of my mind as I wrote yesterday’s blog post: Location Intelligence: What is your best Solution?. Some of the challenges the GIS industry is facing in widening the use of the technology to answer business ‘where’ questions stem from this problem/story starting point. Let me explain.

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What’s next: GIS for Everyone?

Friday, October 7th, 2016


The title of this blog post is the combination of titles from 2 interesting articles I recently read: GIS for Everyone? and What’s next for GIS?. Both very thought provoking, oh and somewhat controversial. Worth digging into deeper, and that’s what we will do in this article.

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Location Intelligence: What is your best Solution?

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

I use the term location intelligence (LI) with great caution. Why?

I always feel it is still a term which is poorly understood. It really sits under the more general ‘business intelligence’ umbrella. One common definition:

Location intelligence (LI) is a business intelligence (BI) tool capability that relates geographic contexts to business data. Like BI, location intelligence software is designed to turn data into insight for a host of business purposes.

We often provide a simpler definition:

LI is focused on answering business ‘where’ questions.

In this blog post we will discuss location intelligence and focus on available solutions.

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GIS – Asking the Why in the Where

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Anybody who reads this blog or attends my talks, will hear me use the term ‘where’. To me its the best way to describe what we do “answer where questions’. Focusing on the technology, as we have all been guilty of doing, does not work in today’s world. Talking about GIS and mapping is both confusing and misleading.

We are spatial business problem solvers trained to answer where questions

I am in Denver, honoured to be invited to be the keynote speaker at GIS in the Rockies. One of the themes of my talk was staying focused on the problem and not the technology. Stepping back from a client (internal or external) request and finding out first the problem. That means ‘Asking the why in the where’.

“I need you to create an XYZ map for me”.

“We need a quote on a mobile intelligent mapping app which does Y”


Offline Mobile Map Basics 5: Use Cases

Monday, September 12th, 2016


In our fourth article in this series: Offline Mobile Map Basics 4: What are your Choices?, we pulled all together and discussed your options for working with mobile maps. The different types of offline mobile map apps were discussed: web. hybrid and native. In this, our last article in the offline mobile map series, we will provide use cases or examples of offline mobile map apps.

Mobile maps and GIS are confusing. As we discussed in our last article, there are 3 mobile choices: web, hybrid and native. Given the problem you are looking to overcome which is your best choice? And, more than simply mobile, what is your best choice for offline?

Let’s consider 3 use cases. In each case a different approach is taken to provide an offline mobile map solution.


Offline Mobile Map Basics: What are your Choices?

Thursday, September 8th, 2016


In our third article in this series: Offline Mobile Map Basics: Editing Map Layers Offline, we discussed editing map layers when offline. Layer feature add, update, delete and attachments were at the core of the conversation. In this, our fourth article in the offline mobile map series, we will pull all together and discuss your options for working with mobile maps.

Offline Mobile Map Basics: What are your Choices?

Today there are three mobile offline ArcGIS choices: web, hybrid and native. Each has its own own advantages and disadvantages

1. Offline Mobile Map Web Apps

Web ArcGIS mobile apps are built with HTML5, Javascript and CSS. They are cross-platform and cross-device, and the most flexible of the mobile options discussed here. They also require the least amount of resource investment of the three. A typical use case for an ArcGIS mobile web app would be: “We want maximum flexibility. Our staff will be using many different mobile devices in areas lacking wireless connectivity. Cost is very important. Extending the mobile app over time with additional custom functionality will be required”.


Mobile ArcGIS Choices: Native, Hybrid or Web

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016


Mobile adoption in the GIS world has taken place slower than many would have expected. The GIS landscape is changing so rapidly, mobile was just one more ball to juggle. But things have begun to change. We are now in a world of multiple devices. And not just smartphones and tablets, also wearable’s, smart TVs etc. There is increasing demand to have access to GIS anywhere, on any device.

Today there are three mobile ArcGIS choices: native, hybrid or web. Each has its own own advantages and disadvantages. If you are looking to have a mobile ArcGIS app developed the right approach need be made on a case per case basis. In this article we will discuss these 3 options; the pros and cons.

Mobile ArcGIS Choices: Native, Hybrid or Web

1. Native ArcGIS Mobile Apps

Native ArcGIS mobile apps are developed specifically for one platform. They are written in the native language of that platform. So Objective-C for Apple (iOS) devices, Java for Android, .NET for Windows. Functionality, user experience and performance are key advantages of native ArcGIS apps. But they are more complex and expensive to build and are not cross-platform compatible. A typical use case for a native ArcGIS mobile app would be: “We will only ever use iPads in our organization, and we are working with large data-sets. Performance is key”.

Offline Mobile Map Basics: Editing Map Layers Offline

Monday, September 5th, 2016


In our second article in this series: Offline Mobile Map Basics: Offline Base-Maps and Layers, we discussed how to take base-maps and layers offline. From Esri-land Tile Packages (TPK) and Feature Layers were key discussion areas. In this third post in the series we will dig a little deeper and focus on offline mobile map editing.

Editing Map Layers Offline

As we have discussed in the previous two posts, base-maps are static. That means they are simply images or tiles stitched together to provide context. Layers are what sit on-top of base-maps and if the are Feature Layers they can be edited. What do we mean by edited? There are three types of editing:

1. Add – Imagine you are working in the pipeline industry, and are viewing on your iPad the current pipe network in an ArcGIS map app. You are currently extending the pipeline; adding an additional line. You will need to update the pipeline layer to include this new section of pipe. That means adding a new line feature.

2. Edit – You are out inspecting a power pole. When you tap the point feature which represents the pole in you mobile map app a list of attributes appears, these describe the pole; type, last inspection date etc. You notice the pole is listed as metal when you can see it is actually wood. You need to edit this features ‘material type’ attribute so it is accurate.

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