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.
May 11th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan
I’m cautious about my use of the term quickstart. That also applies to terms like jumpstart. In this post we will talk about both getting started with GIS and moving forward with GIS. Ultimately how to answer your organizations WHERE questions with GIS.
Let me ask this question: if you throw technology (GIS) at your WHERE question will you be able to find an answer?
My answer: if you understand GIS and can approach the problem from a spatial perspective, there is a good chance you will be successful.
Can anybody simply invest in GIS technology and … click click click … answer their WHERE questions.
What then is a GIS quickstart? In simple terms its guidance towards answering WHERE questions. It’s help understanding where to start and a guided journey to a solution. Why quickstart? You could spend much time (and money) trying to answer a simple WHERE question with GIS. Leading you to question your return on investment (ROI). Help up front, and support over time can move you forward quicker.
May 9th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan
“A person or thing with only one special feature, talent, or area of expertise.”
That is the definition of a one trick pony. I remember playing football (soccer) once with a chap. He had a devastating trick. I don’t know how he did it, but he would beat the defender with ease … that was until the defender learned the trick and how to defend it. That was the end of beating the defender, and indeed the end of the chaps impact on the game. Because he had but one trick!
Was your GIS application built to do one thing, and only one thing, well. Maybe its mobile data collection, insurance risk analysis, emergency assessment. What happens if you need to do more than your focused application provides? Build or configure another application is likely your answer, or live with a GIS application which does 80% of what you need.
But is there a better way?
Leverage a GIS framework is your answer. Don’t worry this blog post will not be a deep dive into technology. We will at a high level here be talking about the difference between a GIS application and GIS framework. In one word it is about flexibility.
May 4th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan
I hear this question all the time: why is my mobile GIS app so SLOW? Whether simply loading a map, trying to edit features on the map, or routing; mobile GIS apps can be maddeningly slow. More than maddening, this slowness can actually get in the way of getting work done!
In this post we will discuss the cause and solutions to mobile GIS app slowness.
So what is the cause of mobile GIS app slowness?
For mobile GIS there are two primary causes:
1) Poor wireless connectivity – In both remote and populated areas wireless reception can be very variable. Take a look at the wireless signal bars on your smartphone or tablet. You will see changes in signal strength as you move. The weaker the signal the longer it will take for your mobile GIS app to load or return results. Sometimes you will wait and wait and the application fails. Very frustrating.
2) Loading a large number of features – If you are using a mobile GIS app which loads tens of thousand of features eg points representing water valves, your application will likely be impacted. Often that means a poor performing app. You are taxing the resources of your smartphone or tablet.
So two core reasons for mobile GIS app slowness: wireless connectivity and feature overload.
April 28th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan
So young Matt and I were chatting yesterday. As ever our GIS conversation was wide and interesting. As our discussion meandered we started looking in the crystal ball at GIS and business intelligence (BI). A fascinating conversation. And one in which GIS lite and GIS business specialists emerged.
When referencing GIS we often talk in terms of ‘WHERE’ or ‘Find the Nearest’ questions. At its core GIS answers these questions. Asset management has been a key reason to use GIS eg. where is the broken pipe in need of replacement? The public sector has gravitated to GIS in part for this reason. WHERE are our assets is a very obvious use of the technology, combined with map generation for visualization.
But that’s pretty narrow.
Commercial use of GIS has been somewhat limited versus the public sector. Why? It’s a good question, and one I often ponder. But that is changing. Mobile devices have brought the notion of location to the fore. In our new smartphone/tablet world, WHERE questions are often asked. The commercial sector have begun to realise WHERE is a key business question. That’s good right?
April 24th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan
As a kid I was a typical boy. Always playing football (soccer), climbing trees, bleeding from a new wound, exploring, covered in mud. I remember hitting my teens and still wanting to do the same. But I realized a new, nagging internal pressure had surfaced. The scene in the Jungle Book where Mowgli follows the beautiful girl to the village, hypnotized, yet looking back at Ba-loo and his other friends, somehow always rang true with me. From free living independence I began to change. For the better no doubt. But I went from nose picking boy, to boyfriend then husband. I began to enjoy simple things like holding hands. Things which would have horrified me as a kid. I began to be guided down a different path by my wife: “More civilized, less smelly man” as she describes. Even to a point now where “manscaping” I will tolerate.
By ‘hand holding’ in this post I’m really talking figuratively. Guidance down a different path I mean directly. When I was a young lad I saw the world in a certain way. My wife gave me a different perspective, showed me a new path. A path, on my own, I would never have known existed (ok, I’m overstating a little here). A path I would have once shunned as “girly”. My wife made me curious, encouraged me to put aside my entrenched thinking, and open my mind to new possibilities.
April 21st, 2016 by Matt Sheehan
Let’s jump into a topic which is much discussed: offline mobile GIS asset management. A problem which lacks good solutions. In this post we will cover the nuts and blots of how offline works for GIS and work orders. We will also share a little secret which might surprise you. Onward.
Many mobile GIS based work order systems are built for laptops. Complex interfaces, hard to use in the field. Often offline needs a full download of all system data: inefficient, slow, and super hard to administer.
Our focus in this post is true offline mobile GIS work order apps. Mobile apps built for tablets not laptops. Simple interfaces and easy offline uploads and downloads. These are new generation offline mobile GIS work order apps.
April 13th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan
Last night was heart wrenching. My daughters U15 soccer team began their new season after promotion, last year, to the top P1 bracket. Up against the best teams in this age group in Utah, last night they played the best team in P1: Celtic Storm. A fast, good passing team with top players in all positions. Our Blue Knights team started on the back foot. Though under pressure and feeling panicked in possession, they held firm. 0-0 at half time. The second half started much like the first, resolute defending relying on break away’s. Celtic were becoming frustrated. But kept pressing. We were tiring but still in the game forcing their goalkeeper into an outstanding save. Still 0-0. Then with 20 seconds left. Celtic crossed from the right. A mis-communication between defender and goalkeeper and an easy tap in for the Celtic forward. 1-0. And end of the game.
I fell to my knees in despair.
How then does this related to GIS? Patience dear reader.
After the game, the coach and I sat down and started deconstructing. Forgetting, for a moment, the many positives we saw during the game.
April 11th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan
I thought Adam Carnow’s recent LinkedIn post was terrific: Why hasn’t my GIS Manager showed me this?. Adam and I share similar thoughts when it comes to spreading the word about GIS. We should all now be actively involved in outreach; showing colleagues and customers the power of cloud based GIS (WebGIS).
I’m going to advance Adam’s discussion a little more here. There is a theme in the comments on his article: “Lack of understanding (platform components, concepts, benefits)”. To put this a different way: now you have discovered you have more tools in your toolbox than you knew, what should you do next?
I’ve found the only way to understand and share benefits, is by doing. Finding a problem to solve with WebGIS. Narrow your focus. Forget the complexity. Is there an organizational problem you can solve using GIS? A project which will help pull the pieces together for you? A solution which would get the attention of management? Start there.
April 6th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan
So I received a call on Monday. The voice on the line said “One must have crumpets with ones tea”. “Who’s this plonker?” I thought. A trace of New Jersey in the accent gave it away. It was Joe fresh back from his trip to London. His visit to Windsor Castle (with the Queen in residence apparently), had turned our Joe ‘posh’.
Joe relayed the story of his trip to me. Windsor Castle, he said, was particularly interesting. A huge, confusing stately home. His group debated whether to wander alone or hire a guide. “The best 20 quid we’ve spent” was Joe’s comment. The guide made the tour far more enjoyable, Joe and his group got to see the things they wanted and discovered much unexpected and new.
April 5th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan
This is a question we are asked often: should we use ArcGIS or Google Maps to solve our WHERE challenge?
You know our usual answer……. it depends!
ArcGIS or Google Maps?
Why would we say that, aren’t Esri and Google bitter rivals, offering similar mapping solutions?
Your choice depends very much on your WHERE challenge. Let’s provide two examples.
1) Bike Trail Map – Imagine your WHERE challenge is sharing with bikers the route of a trail. You have collected data on the trails route, drinking fountains, restrooms etc en-route, have taken photos at various points on the trail and would like to include a directions option for those trying to find the trail. What stands out here in this description? Simplicity. This is a simple WHERE question. Though ArcGIS can provide a solution, the simplicity here lends itself well to Google.