Mobile GIS & LBS
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.
December 8th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan
The geotechnology industry has always used interesting terminology …. geospatial, GIS, geomatics, Géomatique.
As we discussed in a recent blog post called GIS is Changing, we seem to have have developed our own language.
Location strategy is somewhat easier to understand. Well maybe.
Location Strategy .. Huh?
What exactly is a location strategy?
Historically where has not been important outside of the geotechnology or GIS industry. But increasingly business executives are realizing that thinking geographically can improve their business and organization: saving money, and helping in the decision making process. Much of this awareness has come from the popularity of cloud and mobile computing.
Why you might ask?
The cloud has made a plethora of services available 24×7. Geographic or geospatial services, which answer the where question, are among these many services. ArcGIS Online from Esri is a good example of such a service.
We are seeing a clear split in how these various service are being used. The consumer and advertising location-based search kind of experience is a key part of the Apple, Google and Bing offering. GIS in contrast is focused on managing authoritative data sources. Thus supporting geocentric workflows like fixing roads, making cities more livable through better planning, environmental management, forest management, drilling in the right location for oil, managing utilities, assets and people.
What do we mean by authoritative data source?
Another term used here is the system of record, and defined as:
Traditionally heavily used in the public sector, GIS is now seeing dramatic growth in the commercial sector. This will accelerate over the next few years, with greater access to maps across organizations and the increasing use of GIS to manage the business.
The increasing popularity in GIS, and changes in the traditional user base, has created much disruption in the GIS industry. It would be an overstatement to use the term chaos, but considerable change and self examination is underway. More on this in a future post.
At WebMapSolutions we have geared ourselves up to help a new set of industries and users. We have GIS jumpstart processes in place to help organizations implement and use GIS. Contact us for more information 801-733-0723.
November 30th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan
November 24th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan
An odd title for a blog post: Web ArcGIS apps are amazing. Why would we make such a profound statement?
We still see mobile and web apps treated separately. “Mobile enable your web page” we hear. Have clever ‘native’ developers build your iPad, Android or Surface Pro app is another.
In Praise of Web Technology
Web technology is wonderful. Anybody with a browser can use a web application. That means access from any device: office PC, smartphone, tablet. But what we can do in an ArcGIS web application is limited right?
November 6th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan
Splitting, bifurcating, expanding, maturing, polarizing …. GIS is changing.
We are living through a time of transformation in our industry. The advent of cloud and mobile technology has put much focus on location, and technology which is location focused. That’s our technology. Demand is growing from outside our industry for the output from a GIS: mapping, analysis, discovery and more.
But the question has to be asked: are these winds of change internally driven or fueled by this new demand?
Splitting, Expanding, Maturing, Polarizing …. GIS is Changing
The recent blog post I wrote asking the question “Is GIS Splitting?” was met with a large response. Splitting suggests two or more disparate parts. Joe Francica at Directions Magazine in a podcast discussing the question suggested maturing or expanding (note, the term “splitting” was used in the original post to start the conversation. I agree with Joe and most of those who responded, that GIS is actually expanding).
Brian Haslam provided some interesting feedback on this question:
“My viewpoint comes from nearly 25 years of Esri GIS experience with local government. I prefer to put the focus on GIS expanding to meet unique workflow needs where it has not been traditionally used or the use has been marginal. As organizations see their GIS as their most up-to-date authoritative data, which can be rendered as a map (reports, tables, charts, etc.), and can provide spatial analytically tools for decisions support, use of the GIS explodes throughout for specialized and other uses.”
Terminology aside, there is a strong suggestion that two clear-cut communities are evolving: “old and new” (note, though i will use these terms in this post I actually prefer “traditional” and “emerging”). And that the marketplace is driving this divide. The “old” serves predominantly the current user community. While the “new” is focused on the newly emerging user base.
Joe Berry commented as follows:
“My minor contribution to the discussion is two-fold:
1) The root source of the divergence is the level of understanding of the full potential of geotechnology (both in the developer and user communities); and,
2) Geotechnology advances are effectively driven by the marketplace (users, not developers).”
Finding a Common Language
Geospatial, geotechnology, geomatics, Géomatique, mapping ….
We have developed our own language. The language of geospatial. Discussions continue on our somewhat insular vernacular. See this discussion started by Joe Berry on this topic. One respondent I think sums things up nicely:
“All the names and acronyms we use among industry-insiders really don’t work well at all for outsiders. All seem to leave puzzled looks and beg the need for more explanation.”
I’ve never hidden my dislike for the term geospatial. It is off-putting, confusing and to some degree intimidating to those outside the industry. Maybe most importantly it poorly communicates what we do. As the conversation Joe started suggests, old GIS is happy with our current vernacular, while new GIS sees change (additions/updates) as essential to help communicate with, and provide solutions to the new user base.
A new Breed of Geographer
GeoSpatial practitioner, geospatial developer… location specialist
Any GIS client solution is a combination of input from trained geospatial experts, often geographers, and geospatial developers. As Clark Beattie puts it:
“I’ve been in this business for 45 years and seen many changes over that time, most of them for the good. I view GIS as a spectrum which starts with the G part and ends with the IS part. The percentage of spectrum used in a given situation depends on how the geospatial science needs to be applied and the knowledge/capabilities/skills of the practitioner. Some solutions need more G and others more IS. In any given solution one [G nor IS] can’t exist without the other and their appropriate combination makes the GIS work.”
I agree with Clark, this status-quo serves old GIS well. But for new GIS, are we missing a third expert or at least skillset? Those who can understand the challenges faced by the “new” user base. Who can talk a common language and present appropriate understandable approaches and solutions.
Again Joseph Berry:
“The ‘old and new’ paradigm gaps for both the developers and users are at least partially the result of geospatial education’s focus on ‘Specialist’ training with commercial software; and to some degree a movement away from the development of “flagship” software to “business case” solutions”
There is little doubt that GIS practitioners are worried about their future. They see their value as eroding, and wonder if they should become more certified (GISP) or learn programming. Publishing a map is one thing, understanding the data and concepts is quite another. Ever more computer scientists are learning GIS concepts, and applying their IT skills within our industry.
But this proposed third group (I’ll call them location specialists) is rare. There is no training or even widespread recognition of their need. But for new GIS to flourish we need ‘translators’. We need individuals, who understand the challenges faced by the wider ‘non-GIS’ community. Who can bridge the divide, and communicate spatial solutions to a new set of problems, targeted at a new diverse group of users.
One can speculate on the source of these ‘translators’. Maybe from two directions — analytically thinking GIS’ers and spatially thinking domain experts. Since GIS education has not made its way across campus, the latter group remains small. The widespread adoption of SpatialSTEM at the college level, is potentially very important.
There seems little doubt there is a shift underway in our industry. A new very large potential user base has emerged, which is driving change. As an industry we are in the recognition and defining phase. And there is plenty of resistance.
To quote Joseph Berry again:
“Regardless, folks both outside and inside the field need to recognize that digital maps have taken us well “beyond mapping” to entirely new ways to collect, process, analyze and display mapped data and spatial information.”
My opinion is that we will over time see greater recognition of this divergence, and an increasing effort on the part of our industry to bridge the emerging divide. Old GIS continues business as usual. Those focused on new GIS are entering new uncharted territory. Opportunities and challenges abound.
As the saying goes change is good. At the minute two communities have emerged inside our industry: the “old” and “new”. Will they coalesce or remain separate? Only time will tell.
Agree. Disagree. Thoughts?
Let me know firstname.lastname@example.org
October 22nd, 2014 by Matt Sheehan
GIS faces huge challenges. Far greater than it faced in the 90’s with the explosion of the Internet.
And the opportunities for those who solve these challenges are unprecedented.
GIS is moving from being a peripheral, niche technology to an integrated core technology. Let me repeat that: GIS is moving from the periphery to the core.
This is at the heart of both the challenge and the opportunity. What this means is that .. none of the old rules apply.
Sure the core technology remains the same. And is evolving at an astounding pace. But the technology is one thing, how we talk about, and apply it is quite another. We have a new set of users. A much wider group who neither understand nor care about GIS.
October 12th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan
In previous blog posts we’ve discussed the split in GIS. Not so much a split in the core technology, but in the users served and thus solutions provided. Traditional GIS will continue to support GIS professionals. “New” GIS is now serving a far wider user base. These are users who want to move beyond charts and graphs and visualize data on maps.To query business data based on location. These are users who want to replace their use of pen and paper while in the field, with mobile GIS. They want have access to maps and data in both populated (connected) and remote (disconnected) areas. There is much much more.
Its an exciting future. But just how do we bring GIS to this wider set of users?
Through integration that is how.
October 2nd, 2014 by Matt Sheehan
I posed the question in a recent blog post: Is GIS splitting?
Are we now looking at a split between traditional GIS and new GIS?
By new GIS I did not mean an offshoot like neogeography. I meant the application of the technology in new industries and use by non-GIS users. This has far reaching implications. Demanding potentially a quite different approach. I received some fascinating feedback by experts in the GIS community on the original post. To each responder I asked whether they would mind my sharing their thoughts with the wider community in this follow up article. Below are some of these responses:
“For its first 25 years or so GIS was in the construction business. It was building homes for applications, tools for businesses, and markets for services. When GIS grew up it became Geospatial Science ready to take on the world with all its new understanding, applications and world wide data resources. Geospatial science has far superseded its adolescence and is now headlong into maturity competing in the information business.”
September 26th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan
I’m just back from presenting at the GeCo in the Rockies Conference. My first time in Grand Junction. A sleepy town surrounded by amazing scenery, with the beautiful Colorado River on its doorstep. For me, this felt like a conference of contrast. Traditional meets new. Its fascinating to watch how the GIS industry is changing. This was the first time I fully realised that we are in the midst of a split. Hard core GIS professionals continue to ply their trade. Locked up in modelling, developing and using apps with the traditional GIS look, feel and workflows. New GIS is charting a new and different course.
September 18th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan
We’ve just released a new mobile GIS planning guide. This free eBook will walk you through each of the key areas which need consideration when moving forward with a mobile GIS project. Web versus native, choice of cloud GIS technology, offline, mobile app choice and mobile GIS frameworks will all be discussed. These are exciting times for GIS. Mobile and cloud technology are transforming how and where GIS is being used. This guide should help you get your mobile GIS project off the ground.
September 12th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan
When you read a blog entitled ‘Building Offline ArcGIS apps with a Mobile Framework’, I’m thinking the first question which comes to mind is:
What is a mobile framework?
In the crudest terms a mobile framework provides the nuts and bolts to build custom mobile applications. No need to reinvent the wheel each time you need a mobile app. We’ve been building a framework which makes generating offline mobile ArcGIS apps easy. And not just offline, it makes producing any mobile ArcGIS app fast and easy.