June 30th, 2016
I am often asked “How do we get the most out of our GIS”. This comes both from those new to the technology and seasoned professionals. As GIS becomes more popular, this question will be ever more common. I thought in this blog post it worth discussing how to get the most out of your GIS.
GIS is moving away from being perceived as only mapping technology. It is now being properly recognised as a tool to solve business problems. That change in emphasis naturally moves the focus from the technology to the problem. The first step in getting the most out of your GIS is stepping back and asking:
What is the problem and how might a solution look?
Surprisingly these two fundamental questions are often overlooked. In our GIS Discover Workshop this is the place we often begin. Once you understand what you are trying to solve and story-boarded the solution, you can gently step into the technology.
I’ve always hated how adverts get stuck in your head. Songs, tag lines, slogans. One ad which I still have trouble shaking off is the Access credit card, described in the advert as:
Your flexible friend. Take it anywhere, and use it for anything.
But there is no doubt that term ‘flexible friend’ is very catchy.
Is your GIS your Flexible Friend? I should probably rephrase this question to “GIS should be your flexible friend”. In this post I will be talking about GIS applications. That they should be flexible, intuitive friends! And just like that advert which repeats itself (for regular readers of this blog) I’m about to sing the praises of Web GIS applications. Let’s cover 5 reason why web based GIS applications are so flexible:
1. Web GIS application run on any device
PC, smartphone, tablet, Android, Apple, Windows; web applications truly run on anywhere, anytime on any device. Build an application once and run it anywhere might be the motto here. Let me provide an example. We were approached by a large utility who needed a mobile application. They were debating which mobile device to target an iPad or Surface Pro. What we built … a mobile web app which ran on both devices (and more).
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.
When most people think of GIS, they think of maps, and rightfully so. For decades, typical consumers of spatial data were cities, municipalities and other organizations that used GIS to manage and visualize information about assets and environments. This is continuing, of course, as the use of geospatial information moves into new private, commercial and industrial segments. However, as GIS data flows from the field to end users, opportunities exist to develop information that goes well beyond the traditional positions and attributes.
Three Components for Data Delivery
To understand this potential, let’s look at how GIS data moves through an organization. There are three components to the process.
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