A collection of various GIS related links, information and other GIS blogs.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Governor and a Geologist Meet an Environmentalist and a Hospital Administrator - Result: Executive Champions By Joe Francica , Editor-in-Chief and Vice Publisher, Directions Magazine June 21, 2007 No, this isn't the beginning of a familiar parlor game. It's what happens when you gather very smart people who understand the fundamental principles of geospatial data integration. At ESRI's Senior Executive Seminar (SES), held the day before the User's Conference convened in San Diego, senior managers gathered to hear their peers discuss the ways in which they moved GIS out of the backroom and into the boardroom. Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana; Keith Everill, information assurance manager for BP America; Ruthita Fike, CEO of Loma Linda University Medical Center; and Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the European Environment Agency all provided dramatic examples of GIS underpinning strategic policy decisions. Here are their stories. GIS for Statewide Economic Development Schweitzer of Montana seems to be cut from the same mold as previous politicians from the western United States who have graced the SES stage in past years, including John Hickenlooper (mayor of Denver), Judy Martz (former governor of Montana), Jeremy Harris (former mayor of Honolulu) and Jim Geringer (former governor of Wyoming, now ESRI executive). A former soil scientist, Schweitzer is using GIS to convince citizenry, businesses and foreign investors that Montana is rich in energy resources. Using GIS, the governor has the data to back up the claim. Governor Schweitzer provided details on land ownership management in the state and the difference between owning land versus owning mineral rights. There are 56 counties with information about land in two databases: land ownership and mineral ownership. These data are in different places. Schweitzer wants to place them in a repository which will show soil types, demographics, mineral rights, land ownership, geology and any information about energy development. "There are real opportunities ... the more overlays, the more business that will be spawned," said Schweitzer. "Imagine what all of the data we have in a digital form will do for all of us who are in public policy." Montana's economy is based on multiple assets. Schweitzer wants to promote Big Sky country as an "energy" state, with riches in coal, natural gas, wind and biofuels. The state contains 28% of the U.S. coal reserves and the maps to prove it. He explained to the SES crowd how to mitigate potential pollution problems, capturing the carbon emissions by pumping the CO2 back into the ground near existing wells to enhance oil recovery. Schweitzer also illustrated the wind power potential of Montana. He quipped, "Wind doesn't blow all the time. You consumers are the problem ... The wind doesn't necessarily blow when you need your (bread) toasted." To address the challenge Schweitzer is looking for salt domes where it is possible to store compressed air. The stored air could be released at a constant rate to turn turbines which would generate a continuous flow of electricity. Currently, about two-thirds of the electricity produced in Montana is shipped out of state. Biofuels and the education of future farmers are two areas of Montana's GIS-related economic development. The technology is also being used to plan for new training programs at colleges to support workforce development in proximity to the areas where new power plants are being considered. Schweitzer expressed dismay at the lack of vision from the current slate of presidential candidates of either party. "If one of those candidates stands up and says we are going to have an Apollo-style mission (i.e. like John Kennedy did for the space program) for energy independence in the U.S., he will be elected president. This is the greatest challenge in our history, and I hope and pray that we get it right." ...
County fights ruling on access to map database Santa Clara County has appealed a Superior Court ruling in hopes of blocking easy distribution to the public of its digital mapping database, which includes detailed parcel information. The court ruled in May that the county should make the geographical database available to the public at a reasonable cost. The decision was an outgrowth of a lawsuit filed in October against the county by the watchdog group California First Amendment Coalition, which alleged the county overcharges for the mapping information, making it prohibitive to many groups and companies that seek it for a variety of uses. The cost to buy the entire database has been quoted by county officials at $150,000. In the past, the county has charged that amount to private entities, such as telecommunications companies or utilities contractors. In April, however, the county stopped making the database available to those companies, citing security concerns. County spokeswoman Joyce Wing said the county moved to reverse the ruling partly because allowing anyone access to the database could go against a policy by Homeland Security officials, who say there is a legitimate concern about security. County officials sought the counsel of Homeland Security after the lawsuit was filed. The court action "is to help us with the balancing act between the public's interest in knowing and public safety," Wing said. But Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment group, said "It's hard to take the county's security concerns seriously when you consider that for years they've been selling this database to anyone willing to pay the county's absurdly high fees. "So far as we're aware, there's nothing sensitive in the database that isn't already available in other public information."
Gartner: The 40-Hour Workweek Era Is Ending By 2015, there will be more workers who interact with technology, but they'll be working a whole lot less hours each week, finds a Gartner research report released on May 30. Gartner argues that three of the four traditional pillars of work—the living wage, long-term relationships with loyal employers, and government- or company-provided pensions—have already gone the way of the dinosaurs, leaving only the 40-hour workweek. But this, too, is not long for the employment economy, the report said. Societal views on primary wage-earner and caregiver roles, as well as on retirement, are in the midst of changing, taking with them the de facto 40-hour work week. Individuals are already reconsidering its pervasive influence, the report argues, and the dialogue is becoming increasingly political. Those most affected are at the helm. Retiring Baby Boomers, working-age mothers and Generation X workers are seeking a more fulfilling work/life balance, and the traditional workplace structure is holding them back. The report said that no longer will the workplace be dominated by single bread-winners who expect to retire at the end of their working life, and that businesses need to reckon with this trend. "When people in these demographics have marketable skills, employers will find it difficult to ignore their requests for more flexibility," said Brian Prentice, research director of emerging trends and technologies at Gartner, in a statement. "The additional pressures of an aging population and skills shortages will lead to the adoption of digital free agency and flexible work structures as social, political and business necessities." The effect of these changes will be felt throughout the employment life cycle. Organizations will be forced to redefine existing roles as well as craft new ones based on what can be realistically achieved in half the traditional workweek. The report suggests that rather than adopt a draconian measure of cutting in half the working hours of all employees, employers that create 20-hour job descriptions will be in the best place to attract and retain the most qualified workers. "The 20-hour-per-week job description is a relatively simple way of addressing a growing problem without radically restructuring well-established management models," said Prentic. ...
From a New Language to a Common Approach - Dangermond's Message for ESRI UC 2007 By Joe Francica , Editor-in-Chief and Vice Publisher, Directions Magazine June 21, 2007 As I approached the ESRI UC this year I wondered, what would Jack focus on in 2007? After nearly 40 years in the business, Dangermond still shapes the discussion, not only for his customers but also for a broader community of geospatial professionals. In 2007, he seems to have moved the theme he emphasizes often, "GIS as an emerging language," to "GIS as rich data model" with "modeling" being the operative term. This year he is emphasizing the results of GIS, the work of GIS, the technology advantage of GIS. His main point: GIS is the essential tool in business process improvements and best practices. "To classic geographers, (GIS) is just this mechanical thing. No, I don't think so. GIS is to geography what the telescope was to astronomy," said Dangermond. There was a greater emphasis on obtaining "results" in his remarks offered as part of the Senior Executive Summit (SES), a day-long seminar of high-level invited attendees. This was an audience that wanted substance and Dangermond delivered with examples from ESRI customers who implemented GIS solutions:
  • Cook County Housing - increased the number of inspections by 33% to 25,000 inspections per year
  • Nashville Electric - with 100 calls per day, demonstrated a 23% increase in service calls
  • San Diego Paratransit - provided 20% more trips per hour
  • Monarch Beverage - with 300,000 deliveries per year, recognized large savings in operations that were mission critical to the business

"GIS at the macro level, and the many organizations that are using it, is starting to guide human action and the evolution of the planet itself," said Dangermond. "GIS is becoming more real-time. It is giving a common operational picture. Where are my field workers when I need them?"

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Alameda County Prepares New Online Mapping System By : Michael Singer : 6/26/07 Alameda County officials are putting the finishing touches on a project that would combine several county, city and public service maps to allow department staff and eventually residents to customize and view them over the Internet. Similar to online mapping software such as Google Maps and MapQuest, the county’s planned Enterprise Geographic Information System or E-GIS for short — uses aerial photography as the map’s baseline of information. From there, an overlay of detailed street maps, regional boundaries, parks, facilities, community based organizations, and other county services can be added. Various county services such as the Fire Department and Public Works, as well as cities such as Oakland, Hayward and Fremont already have computergenerated map systems in place. The county’s plan would use the E-GIS system to link these individual and non-connected maps together into a larger interactive computer program. Dave Macdonald, the county’s Director of Information Technology and Registrar of Voters, said the program has already been funded through Alameda County’s Information Technology budget. He expects the process will be complete in time for the February 2008 Presidential Primary. “Public Works started the process a couple of years ago when they made their own computer maps, and now the IT department is getting involved. It is hard to say where it will end up in a few years,” Macdonald said. But what’s the benefit of a municipal- sponsored project over a commercial application like Google Maps? Primarily available to internal county offices, the goal is to eventually make some of the maps available to the general public. For example, with a few mouse clicks, homeowners could ultimately see the basic information about their parcel of land as well as access (through a Web site) all the relevant documents such as building permits that pertain to that property.
ESRI's ArcGIS 9.3 - Overview of Enhancements: By Joe Francica, Editor-in-Chief and Vice Publisher, Directions Magazine

ArcGIS ArcGIS 9.3 is being incrementally released in a series of service packs with emphasis on refining and improving workflows; the bulk of the product is to be released next year. These packs will include ways to improve "geographic science" such as using Gaussian geostatistical simulation and rich error messaging, and improving mapping and labeling, scripting, modeling, and WYSIWYG graphic editing. Below are some of the additions shared during the ESRI User Conference. ArcMap Label placement for contour maps will better match what users of USGS quad sheets expect. In particular, the contour elevation labels appear on the major contour intervals and do not overprint the line work. The new release introduces WYSIWYG editing for line work and improvements will be made to street number placement, support for Asian language characters, multiple view windows, labeling on 3D services, the speed of import of Web services, tracking in 3D, textured COLLADA and schematic diagramming. ArcGIS Server ESRI believes that CIOs are increasingly dealing with GIS and that server-based GIS is used in most major cities around the world. Key priorities focus on the high bar set by IT departments, including systems that are:

  1. reliable and recoverable
  2. interoperable and scalable
  3. highly secure
  4. deployable to the non-GIS specialist
Key enhancements for ArcGIS Server include:
  1. printing updates to enhance graphic output, also known as "pretty maps"
  2. map tips that provide "mouse over" access to attributes
  3. support for Web Feature Service (WFS), Web Coverage Service (WCS) for raster, Simple Feature KML and GML
  4. spatial data management and cartographic capabilities for AutoCAD users with the new product "ArcGIS for AutoCAD" which is available now in ArcGIS 9.2
  5. REST API and Java Script API support
  6. caching to enhance Web application performance
  7. security for Web applications and services, allowing users access based on Windows authentication
  8. support for PostgreSQL, Oracle Express and DB2 (z/OS)
  9. a mobile client built on the Windows Mobile platform
There's more to the article...
GovCon - GIS Book: New ESRI Press Book Teaches GIS To Marketing And Business Students And Professionals: Learn to use geographic information system (GIS) software as an analysis tool to conduct business and marketing research in GIS Tutorial for Marketing, a new book by ESRI Press. Businesses of all types and sizes increasingly recognize the value of using geospatial analysis to help make decisions such as selecting sites for stores and warehouses, analyzing market areas, managing sales territories, and planning service and sales routes. GIS Tutorial for Marketing trains students and professionals on how to use ESRI ArcGIS 9.2 software with the appropriate data to accomplish those types of analyses and planning strategies. Scenario-based tutorials teach readers how, for example, to use ArcGIS 9.2 to create a targeted promotional campaign, plan a merchandising strategy, and develop an integrated marketing communication program."
Universal Mind Teams with ESRI and Adobe to bring rich user experience to the GeoWeb: Rich Internet applications a key future strategy for distributed GIS Westfield, Massachusetts (June 22, 2007) – Universal Mind Inc. today announced it will team with ESRI and Adobe to create a new generation of rich Internet applications (RIAs) that leverage ESRI’s enterprise GIS platform and Adobe® Flex™ software to make geographic analysis and access easy and ubiquitous. Increasingly, the web is becoming geographically enabled, and GIS is playing a much broader role in delivering business intelligence and analysis to the larger community of business and non-professional users. As a result, GIS has grown into an integral component of enterprise applications supporting critical and real-time decision-making across a broad spectrum of industries and markets. Universal Mind, ESRI and Adobe are collaborating on a new generation of web-enabled GIS applications that leverage the best user experiences and technology from Adobe to bring a rich interactive GIS experience to every Internet browser. The goal is to provide distributed collaboration and interconnection with dynamic, continuous GIS content that ensures a more meaningful understanding of geographic impacts and influences, together with fast, natural and intuitive interaction.

“This effort is part of ESRI’s strategic vision for bringing geographic analysis and data interpretation to any device, anywhere within the GeoWeb with unprecedented immediacy and ease of use” says Jack Dangermond, President ESRI. “These are three great companies that share a common view of the importance of sharing critical information using its geographic context and enabling geo-enhanced decision-making.”

“We are excited to see Universal Mind embrace Adobe Flex and ESRI’s GIS platform in the creation and delivery of its new Web-enabled GIS application,” said Michele Turner, vice president, Platform Business Unit at Adobe. “Through the combined solution, Universal Mind is making geographic analysis data more accessible and easy to use, allowing business professionals and government decision makers to quickly and efficiently utilize geographic information to help solve critical issues.”

Adapx Introduces Software that Enables Digital Pen and Paper with ESRI GIS Mapping Software: Friday, 22 June 2007 New Human-Centered Data Collection System Allows Personnel in the Field to Communicate with Map Annotations, Drawings and Field Journals SAN DIEGO-- In a development with significant benefits to organizations dependent on accurate geospatial communications from personnel in the field, Adapx (pronounced "Adapts") today revealed a new software product call Mapx - a fully integrated software solution that enables digital pen-and-paper-based data collection with ESRI ArcGIS mapping software. Adapx announced the new integration at the annual ESRI User's Conference, where the software was showcased during ESRI President Jack Dangermond's main stage address and during the plenary session. "The Adapx extension to ArcGIS is an excellent example of an innovative technology that can capture data during a lively exchange of information," said Jack Dangermond, ESRI President. "People can draw on a map the way they have for centuries, and the information is captured in the pen. When the pen is docked into a USB port, the geodatabase is automatically updated."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

ArcGIS Server Development Blog: "The ArcGIS Server Development blog has moved. It can now be found at: http://blogs.esri.com/Dev/blogs/arcgisserver/"
ArcGIS Explorer Blog: "Explorer at User Conference Plenary An excellent write-up on one of the demonstrations performed during Jack Dangermond's opening plenary at the 2007 ESRI User Conference this morning appears on the ESRI User Conference Blog. The post, titled Integrating Online Geospatial Services Delivers Superior Visualization and Information, details the use of ArcGIS Explorer and ArcGIS Online. The write-up includes several screenshots of what was shown."