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Posts Tagged ‘GIS’

Offline Mobile Map Basics: Editing Map Layers Offline

Monday, September 5th, 2016


In our second article in this series: Offline Mobile Map Basics: Offline Base-Maps and Layers, we discussed how to take base-maps and layers offline. From Esri-land Tile Packages (TPK) and Feature Layers were key discussion areas. In this third post in the series we will dig a little deeper and focus on offline mobile map editing.

Editing Map Layers Offline

As we have discussed in the previous two posts, base-maps are static. That means they are simply images or tiles stitched together to provide context. Layers are what sit on-top of base-maps and if the are Feature Layers they can be edited. What do we mean by edited? There are three types of editing:

1. Add – Imagine you are working in the pipeline industry, and are viewing on your iPad the current pipe network in an ArcGIS map app. You are currently extending the pipeline; adding an additional line. You will need to update the pipeline layer to include this new section of pipe. That means adding a new line feature.

2. Edit – You are out inspecting a power pole. When you tap the point feature which represents the pole in you mobile map app a list of attributes appears, these describe the pole; type, last inspection date etc. You notice the pole is listed as metal when you can see it is actually wood. You need to edit this features ‘material type’ attribute so it is accurate.

Basics: Offline Base-Maps and Layers – Part 2

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016


In our first article in this series: Basics: Offline Maps and How to Get Started Part 1, we provided background on offline maps. We discussed the difference between base-maps and layers, and covered what are interactive and editable map layers. In this second post in the series we will discuss how we take base-maps and layers offline.

1. Taking Base-Maps Offline

For this conversation we will focus much of our attention on ArcGIS. Note, the same basic principles discussed here will apply to other map and GIS offerings. So what is a base-map? It is a series of pictures or tiles combined into a single image. Rather like a jigsaw puzzle. And just like a jigsaw puzzle a single image is usually broken into smaller pieces. Think of a huge satellite image. Take a cookie cutter and break that up into smaller chunks. These are tiles.

So why generate tiles? Improved user experience that is why. Google in 2005 released Google Maps. Suddenly we could pan and zoom satellite images for free on the web. And yes the first thing I did was zoom in to see my house. But take a closer look at Google Maps or an ArcGIS web map today. You will see the individual base-map tiles as you pan and zoom. Your experience is seamless and super fast. Imagine each time you panned the map, just for a moment the map disappeared, then reappeared with the new extent. That was the pre Google Maps reality.

So how does this relate to offline? To be able to use base-maps in areas without wireless connectivity we need to copy these tiles to our smartphone or tablet. In Esri-land this can be done dynamically (see Collector for ArcGIS and the base-map selection option for offline) or through a tile package or TPK. This is simply a zip file of images. Tiles at different zoom levels: a “pyramid” of images.

Why tiled maps? from Penn State is a good article on this subject, well worth reading.

What is a GIS Solutions Engine?

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016


A GIS solutions engine: state the problem and with the simple press of a button …. out comes your answer. Sounds too good to be true. I bet I have you wondering where you can get this wondrous technology.

What is a GIS Solutions Engine?

There is little doubt that GIS has become easier. Releases like ArcGIS Online have greatly simplified the process or mechanics of generating and publishing maps. There are now many configurable (that means you don’t need to build from scratch) web and mobile applications which come with these platforms. Now anybody can set up and help provide answers to where questions with GIS. Right?

Well… definitely, maybe!

From our experience with customers, if you do not have in-house GIS expertise or are not prepared to spend time learning GIS ….. answering your business where questions with GIS might not be so easy.

Is Data the Ugly Duckling of GIS?

Thursday, August 4th, 2016


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.

Open Kimono GIS

Friday, July 15th, 2016


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.

A GIS Success Roadmap

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016


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.

Stuck in GIS Brexit?

Sunday, July 10th, 2016


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:

Is GIS Groaning to Move Away from its Traditional Roots?

Friday, June 17th, 2016

GIS is at a crossroads. And its been there for the longest time. The technology has a long history with deep roots in the public sector. Technical advances with mobile and cloud are driving change. Finally GIS has come out of its shell. Is technology the driver or demand? That is a good question.

Is GIS Groaning to Move Away from its Traditional Roots?
As we discuss this question:Is GIS Groaning to Move Away from its Traditional Roots? let’s first consider the then and now. Traditional GIS is map focused, centred on 3 elements: desktop, server and web. See the diagram below:



With GIS be Single Minded, Determined and Driven

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016


This is a blog post about not giving up. Forgive me for dipping back into sport (I try to avoid sports analogies), but I wanted to share a story which illustrates well the message in this post.

A friend of mine recently joined a new soccer team. A good team filled with Brazilian players. But a high pressure team, mistakes were met with loud criticism. Good play went unmentioned. My friend is a good player but had much to prove. He did not start the first 2 games, and when brought on was played in an unfamiliar position. By his description he felt the games went okay. His own performance was ‘safe’ as he described. He started the third game. A cup game. And lasted 10 minutes before being hauled off with the team down by 3 goals, none down to my friend. He felt rotten. He waited out the next 35 minutes on the sidelines, not called back into the game. A mixture of emotions and thoughts went through his head: anger, unfair, give up, doubt.

Insurance GIS: Hail Exposure Management

Monday, June 6th, 2016


Would you like to easily and simply view on a map your insured homes with hail swath data? We’ve built a simple Insurance Exposure Management Application which allows you to view and export this data to CSV. Simply drag and drop your home insurance data on the map. The application will automatically associate a homes location with hail size impact. From here you can export this combined data as a CSV. Simple. This application was built to demonstrate the power of GIS in solving business problems.

Insurance GIS: Hail Exposure Management

Below is a demo of the application:

For more information on this application contact us on 801-733-0723.


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