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Posts Tagged ‘location’

ArcGIS and the Best of all Worlds

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016


I’ve mentioned many times before in this blog that we are big fans of the new cloud based approach to GIS (WebGIS). As Bill Meehan at Esri describes, connecting desktop, Web and mobile apps via your central GIS cloud based hub provides access, awareness and analysis. Moving from server to platform has many advantages. Its transforming GIS.

But today, the reality is that we live in a world of mixed technologies. Esri users have one or a combination of ArcGIS Server, Online, Portal. Web applications tend to be tied to these respective solutions. At WebMapSolutions we have been giving this considerable thought.


GIS Has Changed Have You?

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Inertia. Its a challenge for all organizations. Change can be difficult. Adopting new ways, workflows and processes. But change is ongoing and with technology, the pace of change is increasing. Hanging on to old ways and methods may put you at a disadvantage to your competition. In this post we will discuss 4 ways to better use GIS.

GIS Has Changed Have You?

From Desktop GIS to Cloud and Mobile GIS

We often have conversations with organizations who use desktop GIS applications like ArcMap or QGIS only. Wanting to share maps and GIS analysis more widely, the conversation usually resolves around moving to cloud based GIS. Today there are many ways to share your maps and GIS tools with others in your organization: office based and mobile staff. New proprietary and open source releases have made moving from desktop to distributed GIS far easier.

Lego and GIS are Easy Right?

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

I was born and raised on a small island off mainland Europe. A rainy place, which often drove us as kids indoors. One of my favourite toys when young was Lego. I built simple things with Lego: houses, cars, aeroplanes. Over time the box of pieces grew. I started being creative and building my own simple creations, beyond the step by step guides. It was brilliant.

Building simple things with Lego was easy. One day an older boy asked me if I knew how to build things with Lego. I said yes of course. He needed a structure built for his model railway. He told me the problem and in a perfect world, what he wanted. From his description it all sounded simple. He needed the structure built quickly. I sat down to begin the work. I had all the Lego blocks I needed. Had a description of the problem and goal of the work. I was ready.

Now where to start …… I had absolutely no idea

What did I learn from this experience? Lego is easy if you are solving simple problems. The older boys problem was complex. Sure, I had all the (Lego) pieces to solve the problem but had no idea where to begin.

Today with GIS many are faced with the same challenge

The emergence of GIS platforms is transforming the access, and use-ability of the technology. Publishing maps has never been easier. But answering complex business questions with GIS, that is quite a different matter. Where do we begin, and how do we make better use of our GIS are common questions our customers ask. Like Lego, your GIS might have all the pieces you need (data, configurable application etc) but how do you go from business problem to solution, that is the question?

How does GIS Cross the Divide?

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

We talk often in this blog about the increasing need for answers to WHERE questions. That is what a GIS provides. A common way to visualise the answers to these WHERE questions is through a map. Similar to a chart for spreadsheets. But today GIS lives in an odd place. It is still seen as a mapping solution and not a technology which solves business problems. How do we cross the divide and have GIS seen and used differently? That is the focus of this blog post.

What is the Problem?

I made this mistake the other day. We were in conversation with a real estate company who needed a mobile GIS app developed. They provided a rather confusing picture of what they needed, then asked for a demo from us. I decided to show some examples of mobile GIS functionality, just to help move the conversation forward. MISTAKE. What I should have done is dug deeper. Understood better myself (and maybe more importantly have them understand better) the problem they were trying to solve and the story. I should have followed more closely our from WHERE to THERE process. Showing things we think might interest a client is a mistake we all make. Understand and steer the conversation always towards the problem. How do you propose a solution if you don’t understand the problem?


Can GIS Help the Mad Hatter?

Friday, May 20th, 2016


As the Mad Hatter says:

“I’m late. I’m late. For a very important data. No time to say hello, goodbye. I’m late. I’m late. I’m late.”

Ours is a Mad Hatters world. Fast paced. And getting faster. Decisions increasingly need to be made yesterday. In this blog post we will consider making business decisions fast and where GIS fits.

Can GIS Help the Mad Hatter?

I’m going to rephrase our question: Is GIS a 3 click solution? Is it a software solution which might help those who are moving quickly like the Mad Hatter….

My answer to this question is definitely YES. And definitely NO.

“Curiouser and curiouser!”

Why Yes – GIS IS a 3 click solution

Today GIS has become an in demand technology. Let me re-phrase that: more WHERE questions are being asked by more people. Traditional users of GIS have been swelled by the addition of non-GIS users. Business users in particular are looking for answers to questions traditional BI platforms cannot answer. People are realising GIS is far more than mapping technology. It can analyse and answers complex WHERE questions: Where should we open a new store? Where is our highest flood risk exposure? Where will be the greatest impacted areas of an oil spill?

Why is my mobile GIS app so SLOW?

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

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.

Looking in the Crystal Ball at GIS and BI

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

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?

GIS Answers the Where Question

Monday, February 1st, 2016


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.


Topics in Mobile GIS

Thursday, October 4th, 2012


We came across the following table recently, listing mobile GIS topics:

Interesting. Obviously only a subset of the potential uses of mobile GIS. But worth reprinting. From the mobile app development work we are doing, key mobile requests from clients are:


GeoSpatial Future Trends 2012

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

We saw reference recently to a paper produced by the United Nations Programme on Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM) entitled “Future trends in geospatial information management:the five to ten year vision”. Often interesting to read, I sometimes hesitate to point at these papers from this blog. Particularly since the contributors, or ‘leaders in the geospatial world’ as the paper calls them, are not listed. Still here is a link to the paper:

We’ll comment on the content in a later blog entry.

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