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Open Kimono GIS

Friday, July 15th, 2016


If I used the term Open Kimono what comes to mind?

For me its nudity. I’m sorry. Maybe my mind sits in the wrong place, but when a colleague recently used the term when discussing GIS, I raised an eyebrow. So today’s blog post is about getting naked.

Open Kimono GIS

Well not exactly. The smarty pants among you will of course know the term open kimono. The formal definition:

To reveal what is being planned or to share important information freely. Similar to ”open the books” or an “open door policy,” opening the kimono means revealing the inner workings of a project or company to an outside party.

Sorry to disappoint but though we are thinking here about naked, its not in the ‘without clothes’ way. Discovery is where we are going. Specifically problem and story discovery.

I have mentioned in other blog post this notion of stepping back from the technology and focusing on the problem. Too often we jump into GIS projects focused on the technology. Understanding the problem is key. And that doesn’t mean a short conversation, it means having in place what we call a Discovery process.

A GIS Success Roadmap

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016


I often get phone calls which start like this: “We need an application built which does X”. Do you know my next question?


On the surface that would seem like an odd response. But think about it, the caller has a problem and yet the conversation starts with the technology. This is not the fault of the caller. But without understanding the problem the caller is trying to solve, how can we build out a solution. In this blog post I will share our approach to solving problems with GIS. We have developed a step by step process we use with those both new to GIS and experienced GIS users and organizations. Less an advertisement for what we do, more for you to think about how you might better solve organizational problems with GIS.

Getting the most out of GIS requires careful planning and thought. Below we discuss our systematic approach to solving problems using GIS.

Stuck in GIS Brexit?

Sunday, July 10th, 2016


Those English are a funny lot. Its been an odd few weeks on their little island. In the Euros football (soccer) championship, Iceland (population 300, 000) beat England (population 53 million) 2-1. Andy Murray won the Wimbledon tennis tournament (let’s not here get into the England v British discussion). And then there was Brexit. The English have voted to separate from the EU.

Oh dear!

Stuck in GIS Brexit?

With Brexit the Brits have opted for separation. So what do I mean by GIS Brexit? This post is about the many advantages of integration. Advantages, over time, the English will realise far outweigh the costs.

Think about your GIS. As I’ve mentioned many times before, GIS is coming out of the shadows. Once perceived narrowly as purely mapping software, today it is being used more widely to solve business problems. In isolation GIS is powerful software, but when integrated with other business systems it really shines. Let me share with you two examples:

Are you a GIS Robinson Crusoe?

Thursday, July 7th, 2016


Robinson Crusoe is actually one of my favourite books. The story of the sole survivor of a ship-wreck, washed up on a remote island. Alone he developed talents which helped him survive: farming, construction etc. Marooned but highly capable, Crusoe managed to survive for 15 years. When joined by Friday ‘his devoted slave’, together they built a boat and escaped the island, returning to civilization.

Let me expand on this question: are you a GIS Robinson Crusoe?

You might have guessed, isolation is this blog post’s theme: GIS isolation. Or, rather like Robinson Crusoe, living on a (GIS) island. We commonly encounter two categories:

GIS Newbies – Getting Help

As GIS becomes more popular, we are increasingly encountering organizations who wish to use the technology to solve problems. But often these organizations lack in house GIS expertise. Sometimes that means throwing a GIS newbie at the technology. That can be a very uncomfortable place to be. Sure GIS can be learned, but it takes time to understand how to solve complex business problems. Particularly when business questions need answers yesterday.

Getting the most out of your GIS

Thursday, June 30th, 2016


I am often asked “How do we get the most out of our GIS”. This comes both from those new to the technology and seasoned professionals. As GIS becomes more popular, this question will be ever more common. I thought in this blog post it worth discussing how to get the most out of your GIS.

GIS is moving away from being perceived as only mapping technology. It is now being properly recognised as a tool to solve business problems. That change in emphasis naturally moves the focus from the technology to the problem. The first step in getting the most out of your GIS is stepping back and asking:

What is the problem and how might a solution look?

Surprisingly these two fundamental questions are often overlooked. In our GIS Discover Workshop this is the place we often begin. Once you understand what you are trying to solve and story-boarded the solution, you can gently step into the technology.

Is your GIS your Flexible Friend?

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016


I’ve always hated how adverts get stuck in your head. Songs, tag lines, slogans. One ad which I still have trouble shaking off is the Access credit card, described in the advert as:

Your flexible friend. Take it anywhere, and use it for anything.

But there is no doubt that term ‘flexible friend’ is very catchy.

Is your GIS your Flexible Friend? I should probably rephrase this question to “GIS should be your flexible friend”. In this post I will be talking about GIS applications. That they should be flexible, intuitive friends! And just like that advert which repeats itself (for regular readers of this blog) I’m about to sing the praises of Web GIS applications. Let’s cover 5 reason why web based GIS applications are so flexible:

1. Web GIS application run on any device

PC, smartphone, tablet, Android, Apple, Windows; web applications truly run on anywhere, anytime on any device. Build an application once and run it anywhere might be the motto here. Let me provide an example. We were approached by a large utility who needed a mobile application. They were debating which mobile device to target an iPad or Surface Pro. What we built … a mobile web app which ran on both devices (and more).

ArcGIS and the Best of all Worlds

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016


I’ve mentioned many times before in this blog that we are big fans of the new cloud based approach to GIS (WebGIS). As Bill Meehan at Esri describes, connecting desktop, Web and mobile apps via your central GIS cloud based hub provides access, awareness and analysis. Moving from server to platform has many advantages. Its transforming GIS.

But today, the reality is that we live in a world of mixed technologies. Esri users have one or a combination of ArcGIS Server, Online, Portal. Web applications tend to be tied to these respective solutions. At WebMapSolutions we have been giving this considerable thought.


Is GIS Groaning to Move Away from its Traditional Roots?

Friday, June 17th, 2016

GIS is at a crossroads. And its been there for the longest time. The technology has a long history with deep roots in the public sector. Technical advances with mobile and cloud are driving change. Finally GIS has come out of its shell. Is technology the driver or demand? That is a good question.

Is GIS Groaning to Move Away from its Traditional Roots?
As we discuss this question:Is GIS Groaning to Move Away from its Traditional Roots? let’s first consider the then and now. Traditional GIS is map focused, centred on 3 elements: desktop, server and web. See the diagram below:



GIS Widgets = Super Flexible Apps

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016


I have always been a big fan of flexible GIS applications which are easy to extend. Remember the very popular Flex Viewer for ArcGIS? Though Flex has largely gone away, the widget based approach to configuring and building GIS applications is still here. In fact we feel for many, widget based GIS apps should be leveraged across the organization. GIS applications built for one purpose, and big bloated web applications loaded up with tools are things of the past. I used the analogy of a cruise ship versus a speedboat in a past blog post.


With GIS be Single Minded, Determined and Driven

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016


This is a blog post about not giving up. Forgive me for dipping back into sport (I try to avoid sports analogies), but I wanted to share a story which illustrates well the message in this post.

A friend of mine recently joined a new soccer team. A good team filled with Brazilian players. But a high pressure team, mistakes were met with loud criticism. Good play went unmentioned. My friend is a good player but had much to prove. He did not start the first 2 games, and when brought on was played in an unfamiliar position. By his description he felt the games went okay. His own performance was ‘safe’ as he described. He started the third game. A cup game. And lasted 10 minutes before being hauled off with the team down by 3 goals, none down to my friend. He felt rotten. He waited out the next 35 minutes on the sidelines, not called back into the game. A mixture of emotions and thoughts went through his head: anger, unfair, give up, doubt.

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