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.
Archive for the ‘Mobile GIS’ Category
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”
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.
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”.
In our first article in this series: Basics: Offline Maps and How to Get Started Part 1, we provided background on offline maps. We discussed the difference between base-maps and layers, and covered what are interactive and editable map layers. In this second post in the series we will discuss how we take base-maps and layers offline.
1. Taking Base-Maps Offline
For this conversation we will focus much of our attention on ArcGIS. Note, the same basic principles discussed here will apply to other map and GIS offerings. So what is a base-map? It is a series of pictures or tiles combined into a single image. Rather like a jigsaw puzzle. And just like a jigsaw puzzle a single image is usually broken into smaller pieces. Think of a huge satellite image. Take a cookie cutter and break that up into smaller chunks. These are tiles.
So why generate tiles? Improved user experience that is why. Google in 2005 released Google Maps. Suddenly we could pan and zoom satellite images for free on the web. And yes the first thing I did was zoom in to see my house. But take a closer look at Google Maps or an ArcGIS web map today. You will see the individual base-map tiles as you pan and zoom. Your experience is seamless and super fast. Imagine each time you panned the map, just for a moment the map disappeared, then reappeared with the new extent. That was the pre Google Maps reality.
So how does this relate to offline? To be able to use base-maps in areas without wireless connectivity we need to copy these tiles to our smartphone or tablet. In Esri-land this can be done dynamically (see Collector for ArcGIS and the base-map selection option for offline) or through a tile package or TPK. This is simply a zip file of images. Tiles at different zoom levels: a “pyramid” of images.