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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.

Is Data the Ugly Duckling of GIS?

August 4th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

You know the story about the ugly duckling. Poor little chap; taken for granted, disregarded, under-valued. Then one day he turns into a beautiful swan.

Is Data the Ugly Duckling of GIS?

In some ways that is GIS data. It was not that long ago that data was incredibly hard to find. Everything changed in the mid-2000’s with Google maps, Open Streetmap and others stepping up. Suddenly a whole variety of base maps were available. Many at little or no cost. In addition, data which sits on top of these basemaps – point, line and polygon layers in GIS speak – also was easier to find.

From famine to feast … data became taken for granted

Just like the ugly duckling data became under-valued. Ubiquitous and free was the assumption. How unfortunate!

Let me ask you this. How many projects stall because of a data problem? That is missing data, inaccurate data, or lack of understanding on how to find, convert and publish data. From our experience many.
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Mobile GIS: Integrating ArcGIS with Maximo®

August 1st, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

In this blog post we will be discussing mobile integration. That is between Maximo® and ArcGIS: two very complimentary technologies. Let’s start with some definitions. As described by IBM, Maximo® is:

A comprehensive enterprise asset management for asset lifecycle and maintenance management

While ArcGIS is:

A geographic information system (GIS) for working with maps and geographic information. It is used for: creating and using maps; compiling geographic data; analyzing mapped information; sharing and discovering geographic information; using maps and geographic information in a range of applications; and managing geographic information in a database.

On the mobile front we have Maximo® Anywhere:

Which provides a set of resources for building and deploying mobile apps that integrate with IBM Maximo Asset Management

As mobile ArcGIS experts. we have been looking into the integration of ArcGIS with Maximo® Anywhere to provide both online and offline asset management.
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The Rise and Rise of Location Technology

July 21st, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

So has Pokemon Go finally put location technology on the map?

That is a terrible pun, but an interesting question. One worth exploring.

The Rise and Rise of Location Technology

Let’s start with what is location technology?

Leveraging the built in GPS your mobile device knows where you are at all times. That means it can find what and who is around you. How it does that is through location technology. As an example, fire up your favourite mapping app and ask the question “Where is the nearest gas station?”. The map magically shows all stations close to your current location. Now that is a simple question. How about something more complex. Show me all the homes for sale within a 5 mile radius of my current location which are priced under $200,000.

You get the idea. Location technology is focused on providing users the ability to display and query location based data. Maps are the most common display method. But is location technology the same as mapping technology? That is a tricky one. Both yes and no.
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July 18th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

I’m at it again. Writing controversial blog posts. But I want to explain why GIS SUCS.


Now I often do not follow conventional wisdom. I like to step back and look at the big picture. I try to base my opinions not on what I am told, but what I observe, and hear. This is why I have come to the conclusion GIS SUCS.

Now I do think the new platform is a significant advance. It’s easier to work with, and comes loaded with so many new services and applications. New is good. A plethora of new tools and services is fantastic. But all of the focus put here is why GIS SUCS.

It’s broken record week, since I seemed to have repeated this in a number of posts over the last 7 days. But starting with the technology is starting in the middle.

Success with GIS .. requires


Curiosity … and the


SUCS. Let me explain where I am going here.
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Open Kimono GIS

July 15th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

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.
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A GIS Success Roadmap

July 13th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

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.
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Stuck in GIS Brexit?

July 10th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

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:
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Are you a GIS Robinson Crusoe?

July 7th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

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.
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Getting the most out of your GIS

June 30th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

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.
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Is your GIS your Flexible Friend?

June 29th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

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).
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