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Archive for the ‘Mobile GIS’ Category

Where do great GIS ideas come from?

Monday, August 11th, 2014

 

Its a question worth asking: where do great GIS ideas come from?

I attend plenty of conferences. Its always a pleasure to see how companies and individuals are applying the technology. Always, there are a small group who stand out. Those with unique ideas and products. These are often breathtakingly simple. See Valarm and their work with monitoring and sensors for an example.

Where do great GIS ideas come from?

So do innovators sit in dark rooms on stormy nights pen in hand, feverishly scribbling down ideas?

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Should you build a mobile GIS app for Apple devices only?

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

We often have clients come to us and request we build a mobile app for iPad and/or iPhone. Our first question, before touching on functionality is: should you build a mobile GIS app for Apple devices only?

There are many reasons why building a mobile GIS app for just one platform (Apple iOS in this case) makes sense. Maybe your staff all have, and love, iPads and iPhones. They are comfortable with Apple products, and your IT department is set up to support iOS devices alone. I know many iOS fans who would cringe at the suggestion of switching to Android, for example. Apps which run on Apple devices are usually (and we will come back to this) written in a programming language called Objective-C. A language unique, or native, to Apple.

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Custom cross platform mobile GIS apps are expensive?

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

 

So … custom cross platform mobile GIS apps are expensive?

They certainly can be. Let’s imagine you would like a custom version of Collector for ArcGIS. Maybe you want a tool which is not provided by Collector. Lets say custom forms. iFormBuider won’t cut it. You need something for your unique workflows. Since you have a field team who use Apple, Android and Windows mobile devices (that means smartphone and tablets) you need a cross platform solution. What do you do?

More than likely you turn to a GIS development company like ours. You’ll ask us, if such a custom app is possible. And most importantly how much it might cost?

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Widen your GIS thinking

Monday, August 4th, 2014

We live in a world of narrow thinking. How often do you hear comments like:

“I vote Republican (Democrat) because that is the way my parents have always voted”

or

“I know that mine is the one true religion?”

Or been in one way conversations where you (are forced to) listen to somebody telling you every small detail of their life. Their career, promotion etc.

How do we grow as people, as GIS professionals, if we spend our time staring at our own navels?

Widen your GIS thinking

Its time to widen your thinking.

How useful is somebody who keeps a narrow focus? Their boss wants (expects) them to be continually valuable to the company. That takes more than just doing the “right things” for promotion. Its taking an active interest in the (GIS) activities of the company; the industry, watching what others are doing, talking, reading, making suggestions, having ideas. Its too easy to sit back and go through the motions. Follow behind others. Focusing on how to get promoted directly, instead of what value you can bring to make the company more successful. You more successful. Its a subtle but big difference.

GIS is exploding. As a GIS professional opportunity knocks. Don’t sit and stare at your navel, or worry about all those new “GIS graduates” making you less valuable. You are incredibly valuable. Grab your career by the horns. Read, ask questions, contribute directly to your companies future (not just your immediate tasks).

Take your great ideas and start a company of your own!

Don’t miss out on the GIS wave. Join of us. Before it has passed.

Should you Subscribe to a GIS Web App Builder?

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

 

There are a number of subscription based GIS Web application builders currently available. In this post we will discuss whether, in today’s rapidly evolving GIS market, you should subscribe to a GIS Web app Builder?

What are GIS Web App Builders?

GIS Web app builders are wizard based tools which allow those without programming skills to quickly stand up sophisticated GIS web applications. If your organization needs a variety of Web applications, maybe executive dashboards, mobile Web apps, or Web apps with a particular purpose, GIS Web app builders provide a quick way to assemble and launch these applications. They often come with a variety of modules which provide custom functionality, often targeted at specific markets; oil and gas, public safety, mining etc.

History

The release of ArcGIS 9 in May 2004 came with few Web applications. A number of companies saw the need to provide easy to use wizards to help GIS and non GIS staff generate Web apps quickly and easily. The goal was to provide simple, easy to use tools to produce Web applications for users across organizations. No need for a team of developers. Though they were expensive, these subscription based wizards became very popular, particularly with the ArcGIS community.

A New world of GIS Web Applications

We are in the midst of dramatic changes in GIS. Mobile and cloud are transforming the world of GIS. We have moved to GIS anywhere anytime. ArcGIS server remains, ArcGIS Online – a cloud based variant of server – is becoming increasingly more popular. Let’s look at the current landscape:

GIS Web application development has never been easier

Changes in technology, particularly with a move towards HTML5, have meant GIS Web application development has never been easier. The cost for developing GIS Web applications is at an all time low.

Free GIS Web apps everywhere

Over the last few years Esri have released a slew of free Web applications, targeting both ArcGIS server and Online. Easy to configure, these application are both general and industry targeted. The Esri local government team, for example, have over 40 free configurable templates available. No knowledge of programming is needed to configure these applications for use in organizations. They are also easy to extend to provide more custom functionality.

Esri’s Web App Builder for ArcGIS

Mobile and Web App Builder for ArcGIS sessions were the most popular at this years Esri user conference in San Diego. The latter is close to full release. It is a free Web application builder. We’ve been testing this new builder. It is very impressive. Easy to use. Simply Launch the builder on your desktop, open new project, set up the styling (colour, banding etc), point at your data, drag and drop in pre-built widgets which provide specific functionality (measure tools etc) and generate. A piece of cake. The beauty of the builder is that the application generated is Javascript. This means it is easy to extend a base application and add new widgets. Like the popular ArcGIS Viewer for Flex one can see that the list of free widgets available with Web App Builder for ArcGIS will grow over time, as the developer community contribute their work.

We have already begun development planning around producing new widgets. Soon after the full release of Web App Builder for ArcGIS we will be launching widgets which provide custom functionality. targeting utilities, transportation and pipeline industries. As an example, we will be launching widgets for use on mobile devices, which will provide mid-stream pipeline companies simple online/offline custom data collection, QA/QC solutions which integrate seamlessly with backend PODS.

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Has Collector helped to put mobile GIS on the map?

Friday, July 25th, 2014


Excuse the pun, but the question need be asked: has Collector helped to put mobile GIS on the map?

We are just back from the Esri user conference in San Diego. A horrible place to go for a conference! As ever a terrific event. And the most popular sessions were ….. anything mobile. The Collector demos were standing room only extending into the corridor. Everybody seems to have mobile and Collector fever. Having been preaching the gospel of mobile GIS and mapping for so many years, this fills our hearts with joy.

From our perspective, this surge in mobile interest has created new client needs. Most notably:

Collector Set up and Training

We’ve been inundated with requests from clients to help set up and train staff on the use of Collector. The app is popular with GIS and non GIS trained staff alike This has necessitated familiarizing these field based workers with the online and offline Collector workflows. Data set up and publishing in ArcGIS Online has also been required. Collector is replacing older pen and paper based methods once used to collect data. Using a smartphone or tablets built-in GPS, users location and the location of features can be automatically set. Feature attributes are stored on the device if offline, locally stored edits or additions are pushed to ArcGIS Online when back online. Images can be attached to features using the mobiles built in camera.
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Esri UC is over .. now what are you going to do?

Monday, July 21st, 2014

 

This years Esri UC in San Diego was the best yet. So much cool new technology. The GIS revolution is in full swing. But now it is all over, as you sip your coffee on your first day back at the office. Now what are you going to do?

Floods on new information, ideas, products. Its your job to organize your thoughts, and take action on implementation within your organization. Inertia is your biggest enemy.

What’s your mobile strategy?

Mobile is everywhere. Quite literally. We have become so dependent on our mobile devices. At this years UC it was hard to avoid discussions around mobile. More than any other advance, mobile is having a profound affect on GIS. Esri are pushing forward with new mobile technology. There is no doubt that Collector has raised the profile of mobile ArcGIS. Mobile data collection integrated with ArcGIS is hot at the moment. Old methods of using paper and pen are rapidly being replaced. Collector took a while coming, but it was well worth the wait. We are working with ever more clients helping set up Collector, and train staff.

Mobile presents new opportunities to apply GIS in new ways To replace outmoded methods. To use GIS technology in a seamless manner both in and out of the office. Data collection is but one application of mobile GIS technology. As was demonstrated at this years UC, there are a plethora of new applications of mobile GIS.

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Using Mobile GIS to Help Mineral and Energy Sector Regulation and Management

Monday, June 30th, 2014

 

Mobile GIS is exciting. It offers a new ways for field based staff to get their work done more efficiently, and provide more accurate data. Energy sector regulation and management have many challenges. Field surveys are often done in remote areas outside of mobile communication coverage. Data collection still relies on a disjointed combination of equipment. New mobile GIS technology offers potentially dramatic improvements in how Mineral Exploration Regulation Teams get their work done. We will discuss a new integrated approach in this article.

Mobile GIS and Energy Sector Regulation

Its worth providing some background on a typical scenario for mineral and energy activity regulation.

Mineral Exploration Regulation Teams

Much of the work done by mineral exploration regulation teams is centred on monitoring ground exploration activities. Comparing reported activity and impacts, against what is observed. Field inspections are typically ground based and often done in remote areas. Off-road 4WD vehicles and possibly air support may be needed depending on the activity, urgency of an inspection, the availability of staff and accessibility of sites. There are other dependencies on ground conditions such as weather, agricultural and cultural practices.

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7 Things to Consider when Moving to Mobile GIS

Friday, June 27th, 2014

 

Many organizations are now considering mobile GIS. Much of this is a move to efficiency, to get out of the traditional cycle: collect field data on paper, submit this to a GIS specialists, who then enters this into a GIS. Mobile GIS means field data can be uploaded directly from the field to the GIS.

So what needs to be considered when adopting mobile GIS technology? We’ve been developing and implementing mobile GIS solutions for a number of years. As we have found, mobile GIS implementations are not straightforward. Careful consideration, planning and preparation is needed. In this post we share 7 key areas to consider when moving to mobile GIS.

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4 Popular Uses of Mobile GIS

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

 

Mobile GIS is becoming ever more popular in organizations. The advent of cheap mobile smartphones and tablets has meant that location technologies like GIS are no longer confined to office use only. Mobile GIS is helping to empower field staff, as well as provide new tools to all mobile users. In the post we discuss 4 popular uses of mobile GIS.

4 Popular Uses of Mobile GIS

1) Data Collection

Pen and paper have been the traditional way data has been collected in the field. Sometimes it is the main storage method also. Mobile GIS presents a new way to collect data accurately. Leveraging GPS, in-built cameras and Internet access, mobile GIS provides new ways to collect, and upload data to a central location. This provides a dramatic improvement in efficiency, no more paper storage or manual data entry. Now rich, accurate field data can be collected, uploaded and shared across an organization in real time. Collector for ArcGIS is a nice new mobile editing app. We’ve built a flexible framework which provides much of what is in Collector, but is customizable and runs across all popular mobile platforms (Apple, Android, Windows)

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