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 Mobile GIS & LBS
Matt Sheehan
Matt Sheehan
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.

4 Popular Uses of Mobile GIS

 
March 3rd, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

As a mobile GIS development company we have had many fascinating conversations with clients, and built some very cool apps. We thought it might be interesting to look back at our experiences and list 4 popular uses of Mobile GIS.

Disaster Management and Assessment

Time is of the essence when managing disasters. Both providing relief to affected communities quickly, then following up with assessment and help with rebuilding. Mobile GIS has become a very important tool used by NGO’s and public safety departments.

We wrote last year about work we were doing with Monroe County. They were looking into improving their pen, paper and spreadsheet based approach to disaster assessment. Providing iPad’s to non-GIS trained Red Cross volunteers, loaded with a simple to use GIS app, was the goal of the work. The mobile GIS app built by WebMapSolutions allowed these volunteers to view interactive maps, collect data, share and collaborate while on site. The data resulting from the field reporting was quickly provided to state officials as an interactive Web map which was easy to understand, showed damage information at a parcel level, and helped with discerning patterns. This Web map approach has dramatically helped the decision making process, allowing for fast turnaround of relief funds.

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Thoughts on Tablet and SmartPhone Field Data Collection

 
February 19th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

We have spent a chunk of time focused on mobile data collection. Much of our work has leveraged Esri’s ArcGIS Online. In this post we thought it worth providing our thoughts on tablet and smartphone field data collection, based on our experiences.

Tablet and SmartPhone Field Data Collection

Esri’s mobile Collector we like. The two area which were problematic for us were the built in GIS workflows; the folks who are collecting the data are not GIS savvy and lack of disconnected or offline functionality. We ended up developing our own offline editing app. Read the rest of Thoughts on Tablet and SmartPhone Field Data Collection

3 Exciting Applications of GIS for Non-GIS Users

 
February 9th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

GIS is now being applied in many new areas. With the popularity of mobile and cloud technology opportunities have opened to apply GIS in new ways and to serve a new audience. In this post we will discuss 3 exciting applications of GIS for non-GIS users.

GIS for Non-GIS Users

Every home, business, road, park exists at a specific location, and can be represented as a point, line or polygon. People move from location to location, as do vehicles. In its simplest form, GIS is a system designed to visualize and analyse anything and everything which has a location or locations. Where are my best performing retail outlets, find me the closest park to my current location which has a playground, send text messages to shoppers as they enter your store about today’s specials.
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5 Cool Uses of Mobile Offline Maps

 
February 4th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

Mobile applications require networking. Not any more: here we discuss 5 breakthrough offline use cases available now!

How often do you find yourself without mobile Wi-Fi connectivity? More often than you would like. Maybe you are in a remote area; working, possibly hiking, boating or fishing. Maybe you do not want to exhaust your mobile data plan. Its quite possible your mobile device has no outdoor Internet connectivity. Lower cost tablets only provide direct home or office based network connectivity and have no 3G/4G providing mobile data capabilities. Even if you have a tablet with networking service built-in from the telephone carriers, the service is inconsistent at best and sometimes it doesn’t exist.

This is a huge disappointment because tablets and smart devices have a great deal to offer businesses and consumers of all types, especially those that marshal resources to the field with the dreaded pen and paper. But until we can solve how we collect data of all types, integrate it into our workflow seamlessly, and do that in an occasionally connected world, we are going to remain in the stone age with pen and paper use by field staff.

The wait is over

Since we are mobile map and GIS experts, in this post we will describe 5 cool uses of mobile offline maps.
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One Web GIS App for Desktop and Mobile: is it Possible?

 
February 3rd, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

Have you ever opened a Web page on your smartphone and found it to be unusable?

Text is too small, images too large, button clicks and navigation impossible. This is a problem we have all experienced. Indeed, we are often asked:

‘One Web GIS App for Desktop and Mobile: is it Possible?’

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Is 2014 the Year of Mobile GIS?

 
January 30th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

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5 Powerful New Ways Mobile GIS can Help your Organization

 
January 23rd, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

In this post we discuss 5 powerful new ways mobile GIS can help your organization.

No more Pen and Paper

A better title here might have been ‘replacing outmoded inefficient work practices’. Still much work done in the field relies on pen and paper; notes, paper maps, forms and documents. Today we can use smartphone and tablets to store all information in one place in a digital format. Digital format I hear you say? A format which allows us to push all your data into a central computer system. No more pulling together notes made in the field and generating spreadsheets, or requiring data entry folk to take your paper documents and transpose that data into the central data system. Cut out the middle man, upload all your field recorded data directly into the system yourself via your smartphone or iPad.

Do I hear you say more efficient?

If the data has a location component, which is most of the time, we can record current GPS location, maybe do reverse geo-coding to convert a GPS point to an address. Tying GIS into this system then provides the spatial analysis and visualization component. Our recent blog post talks more about replacing pen and paper with mobile technology

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Stepping Into The Brave New Cloud Enabled Mobile GIS World

 
January 16th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

Cloud and mobile technology are ….

Confusing and complicated.

Hard to fit into “how we have always done things”

Difficult seeing and demonstrating the benefits to management.

We have heard these responses and many more from clients. Stepping into the brave new cloud enabled mobile GIS world is hard. But the benefits are considerable. Read the rest of Stepping Into The Brave New Cloud Enabled Mobile GIS World

3 Ways to Replace Pen and Paper with Mobile GIS

 
January 14th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

The low cost and popularity of Apple and Android mobile devices has opened many new ways to apply GIS. Many applications GIS development companies like us are building are in part or fully mobile enabled. Mobile presents many new and exciting possibilities. In many ways we have only just begun to scratch the surface of the many opportunities to apply GIS and location service.

One area in which we have received many client requests is the replacement of pen and paper with mobile GIS. Many field based staff still rely on paper maps and note taking. Mobile technology coupled with GIS and location services has the potential to dramatically improve how people work in the field. Eliminating pen and paper will be a huge step forward in terms of efficiency. Read the rest of 3 Ways to Replace Pen and Paper with Mobile GIS

GIS in 2014 is Simpler and Cheaper

 
January 7th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

True: GIS in 2014 is simpler and cheaper.

Why? Cloud services and low cost (mobile) hardware.

Simple? Let others host and maintain while you focus on the solution.

Our conclusion from conversations over 2013 was that many still see GIS as this complex system. They have nightmares remembering GIS technology choices, licensing fees, tuning/maintaining/upgrading servers, publishing data. But their thinking had still to move forward.

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