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.
As a technology company focused on real estate we always like to applaud others work. Case in point is the Web site we show in the video below:
As we show, these guys have done a great job providing a one stop shop for prospective buyers looking, in this case, for properties in Manhattan. We love how they use the map to help orient prospective buyers, providing the location context that so many real estate sites lack.
This is our fourth and last blog post in our series discussing how organizations can answer their WHERE questions:
WHERE should we focus our policing efforts?
WHERE are our assets – pipes, valves, culverts, insured households, stores, dealers, parks?
WHERE are our listed properties for sale?
WHERE does it make the most sense, given demographics, for us to focus our marketing efforts?
In our first post we discussed data and building/maintaining an accurate, complete and easily accessible System of Record. Our second post discussed GIS servers and platforms. The third post considered the GIS System of Engagement. Here we will underline the importance of a location strategy.
I’ve been wrestling with this one for some time: confusing terminology. And GIS is filled with it.
Those of us looking to drive GIS forward are still struggling to communicate the value GIS and location technology in general bring to solving business problems. Take for example my conversation over the weekend with a friend who has a senior position with an international retailer: “We use maps for our business”, he mentioned, “Google maps to help potential customers find their nearest dealer”. Location technology and maps are still seen as products for consumers: routing, pins marking a location, weather etc. As a consumer product, that is why Google Maps is so popular.
GIS Answers the Where Question
What we have to communicate is how location technology, which often outputs results as a map, can be used to help solve business problems. A good starting point might be to drop that term ‘location’. True, we do work with technology which is focused on providing location intelligence or location analysis, but few outside our (GIS) circles understand these terms. In contrast ‘where’ is universally understood.
When you are in conversation and somebody asks what you do for a living, how do you respond?
“I make maps”
“I provide location intelligence to businesses”
“I solve real world problems using geography”
“I work with a technology called GIS”
Over the years I have tried all of the above. And am usually met with the same blank stare or a polite “very nice” response. I find the answer which provides at least a glimmer of understanding is:
“I work with a technology which is like Google Maps on steroids”.
I still cringe every time I say this, but everybody knows Google Maps and by including steroids in this sentence we add the (mental) image of muscle or power.
Is GIS really Google Maps on Steroids?
This is our 2016 reality (see our 2016 predictions). Less the competitive challenge of Google, more perception. We owe thanks to Google for making maps ubiquitous, but now need to overcoming the barrier which has become Google Maps. Googles ending of its march into the enterprise GIS sector – with Google Maps Engine – has drawn a line between a pretty map product (Google) and business solution (GIS). Both have their own unique strengths.
Ok so I often say in this blog “we live in exciting times”. GIS is coming out of the shadows. Innovation is taking off. New thinkers are bringing fascinating ideas forward.
I became very interested in work being done by a UK based company called what3words. After meeting Chris Sheldrick the co-founder, we thought it worth spending time looking at their technology and ways to integrate it with ArcGIS.
Are you wondering about Mobile GIS? Looking to improve how your field staff get their work done, looking to provide access to maps and GIS from any device and any mobile platform? In this article we will discuss some of the core elements of mobile GIS.
Mobile GIS Platform
Often a first question for those of us looking to use or build mobile GIS apps is: which mobile platform should we target – Apple, Android, Windows? At one time, this singular question was popular. We were focused on one platform, then often the popular choice was targeting Apple devices; the iPad and iPhone. But things are changing. The popularity of mobile devices means users have a mix of Apple, Android, and Windows devices. Cross-platform is increasingly the focus of today. That is mobile GIS apps which run on any device. Mobile Web GIS is one of the best cross-platform solutions. Ever more of our mobile development, as a company, is web focused for this reason.
Its always pleasurable to write about innovative uses of ArcGIS. Particularly when it comes to customers of WebMapSolutions. In this case, one of our commercial ArcGIS customers, focused on real estate. The implementation was truly an innovative use of ArcGIS for management of land sales.
Real Estate 101
Before we jump into the details, let’s step back for a moment. The real estate market is broadly split into residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural/rural segments. Residential real estate can include, houses, condominiums and townhomes. In contrast commercial real estate covers office buildings, multi-family housing, development land, and retail store buildings. Industrial real estate can include factories, mines and warehouses. Finally agricultural/rural includes rowcrop, pasture, livestock facilities, timberland, mini-farms, transitional land, and land supporting other crops such as fruit, berries and nuts. (more…)
I thought it worth following up on John-Isaac Clark’s article Making Sense Out of Google’s Geospatial Evolution. I’ve met John at past geo-conferences. He is Chief Innovation Officer at Thermopylae Sciences & Technology. Thermopylae have built their product suite on top of Google, so the recent changes announced by Google around their geospatial products could have a direct impact on Thermopylae’s business. In some ways Johns blog post was written to reassure his companies existing clients. Aside from this, there are some interesting points made worth discussing.
Google Impact on Geospatial
The launch of Google Maps in the mid 2000’s sent ripples (tidal waves?) across the geospatial industry. Suddenly interactive maps were easy to access and use. The Google Maps interface was beautifully simple. No head scratching was needed to use their maps. And with slippy tiles the user experience was extraordinary. For those of us developing mapping applications, simply finding good base map data was a huge undertaking. Google changed all of that. Rich base map data-sets suddenly became available. That was a huge change. I agree with John that the Google geospatial releases “enabled geo-literacy to be introduced to non-geographic information system professionals”.
Flexibility and simplicity. This should apply to any and all ArcGIS apps. As a company we stay focused on providing this perfect balance. In this article will provide a sneak peek into a development effort in which we have been engaged which brings amazing flexibility and simplicity to ArcGIS web apps.
Sounds like cheap advertising. If you read this blog regularly you know me better than that. Read on you might be surprised.
The ArcGIS Platform
Before we jump in, let’s just step back for a moment. The concept of the ArcGIS platform is still sinking in for many. Those who attended the recent Esri developer or partner summits in Palm Springs were given a deeper dive into the idea of the ArcGIS platform: identity, web map, maps and apps. Esri aren’t alone in their evolution. As GIS becomes a core technology (its popularity driven by cloud and mobile technology) much is changing. Its change for the best. Different to our old narrow comfy niche. Call it advance and progress. Long overdue in our view.