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Posts Tagged ‘where’

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.


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.

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?

Deconstructing the problem to find a solution using GIS

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

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.

Now my GIS Manager has showed me .. what should I do next?

Monday, April 11th, 2016

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.


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