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

Monday, November 24, 2008

California GIO

Many folks have been pushing for and working towards the establishment of a position for a statewide GIO. I heard a few weeks ago that it was approved, and now the job announcement is out.

If you think you have the skills, knowledge and everything else that will be needed to navigate in Sacramento – please take a look!


Nice pay too…

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Microsoft & ESRI team to geo-enhance FusionX

Watch for more on this in 2009.


November 20, 2008

Microsoft, ESRI to Help Improve Homeland Security Operations

Technology partnership in FusionX makes fusion center situational analysis affordable, easy to use.

Redmond, Washington, and Redlands, California—Microsoft Corp. and ESRI together are driving Homeland Security innovations to more effectively help protect citizens, prevent and solve crimes, and enable counter-terrorism through software. The newly formed collaboration will combine the best capabilities from both organizations in geospatial and collaborative technologies, and will result in advanced intelligence for state and local data fusion centers and emergency operations centers.

An intended product of this collaboration is the FusionX Appliance, a baseline IT architecture for fusion centers, which will provide users with advanced collaboration and geospatial intelligence capabilities by combining the power of ESRI’s ArcGIS Server Advanced Enterprise with the collaboration capabilities of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.

FusionX will enable homeland security and law enforcement personnel to analyze previously disparate data sets in a mapping context and easily share that information in near real time with relevant stakeholders. FusionX will enhance the abilities of fusion center directors at the strategic and tactical level, enabling them to visualize patterns and trends to help prevent future acts of terrorism and crime, and facilitate a faster and more informed response when necessary. Through the intake of raw data such as fire, police and citizen reports, FusionX will allow for geocoding and mapping of the data to help detect man-made acts of terrorism and crime, such as organized, gang and drug-related activity. Critical GIS data is made accessible and shareable, replacing current collaborative analysis methods that rely on paper exchange and e-mail.

The IT architectural features of the appliance include the following:

  • Sophisticated management dashboards through the advanced monitoring, modeling, analysis and planning capabilities of ArcGIS Server and Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007
  • ESRI ArcGIS Server Advanced Enterprise, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and access to terabytes of high-quality pre-rendered base maps and imagery
  • An advanced situational awareness portal with support for GeoRSS feeds, Keyhole Markup Language (KML) feeds and other data that will be integrated in the SharePoint environment for access control features and information sharing
  • Best practices and foundational content specific to anticipated operator and analyst requirements. Customers will be able to customize the software as necessary, but the goal is to deliver capability that is usable after only minimal configuration.

Our police forces, sheriff departments and fusion center managers are increasingly relying on collaboration tools that help them connect the dots in a world of asymmetrical threats," said Gail Thomas-Flynn, general manager of State and Local Government at Microsoft. "Microsoft and ESRI’s FusionX Appliance provides the layman- to expert-level technology that can facilitate the intake, analysis, visualization and dissemination of information to the right person, at the right time, in the right place."

The FusionX Appliance will deliver advanced geospatial and collaboration capability with minimal configuration and maximum ease of use, yet at an affordable price. It will be extensible so as to grow with the needs of an individual customer. The FusionX Appliance also will allow for the scaling of its technology architecture framework to a broader set of federal, state and local domestic security and public safety agencies with capabilities such as geoprocessing and geoanalytics.

"We understand what it takes to provide secure and mission-critical capabilities in ways that leverage the technologies that many customers already own," said Russ Johnson, public safety industry manager at ESRI. "And that is extremely important in this economic climate."

More information about the program is available at http://www.microsoft.com/industry/government/solutions/FusionX/default.aspx.

# # #

About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Press Information:
Matt Donovan, Merritt Group
Tel.: (703) 390-1519
E-mail (press only): donovan@merrittgrp.com

Friday, November 21, 2008

What’s Shakin’?

Golden Guardian took place recently in California. It simulated a big quake as an opportunity for agencies to test their emergency preparedness and also to see if/how they could work together. In San Diego Caltrans District 11 was out with mobile units gathering information of “damaged” roadways and bridges that needed repair or inspection. This field collected data was transmitted up to Sacramento and loaded up into ArcGIS Server based webservices along with data from other agencies around the state. San Diego County EOC was one such agency.

Cities and counties were then able to consume these webservices in their own applications, in Common Operating Picture viewers based on the ArcGIS Server flex API, or in ArcGIS Explorer.

When the fires started breaking out in southern California (Freeway, Sayre, and Tea) before the exercise was complete, they re-tasked servers, loaded in real emergency information gathered at the fires and kept on serving it up to end users fighting the fires and making decisions on how to allocate resources.


November 17, 2008

GIS Delivers during the Largest Earthquake Drill in U.S. History

ESRI Provides Staff and Resources for the Great Southern California ShakeOut

Images for Publication

A GIS-based common operating picture provides continuous data updates. Understanding hospital occupancy levels helps officials direct emergency medical service crews transporting new patients.

Redlands, California—At 10:00 a.m. on November 13, 2008, millions of people throughout Southern California participated in the Great Southern California ShakeOut Drill, the largest earthquake preparedness exercise in U.S. history. The drill simulated a magnitude 7.8 earthquake along the San Andreas Fault in Southern California. ESRI supported participating agencies with software, staffing, and resources used during the exercise, which modeled assessment, rescue, relief, and recovery efforts. Geographic information system (GIS) technology was used to help build an accurate, continuously updated emergency information repository; aided decision support and resource management; and enhanced multijurisdictional communication.

"We worked diligently to create a realistic exercise that helps us see where we are with our response capability in the event of a major earthquake," says John Ellison, agency technology officer and geographic information officer (GIO)/California Environmental Resources Evaluation System (CERES) director, California Resources Agency. "By upgrading to ArcGIS Server 9.3 and ArcGIS API for Flex, we have an easy-to-use Web-based viewer suitable for this purpose. We are very pleased with our GIS experience including during the exercise."

The ShakeOut kick-started a weeklong collection of exercises called the Golden Guardian 2008, held November 13–18 and involving 5,000 participants from public agencies around the state. Based on scientists' predictions of what would occur during and after a major earthquake, the simulated results included 1,800 dead, 50,000 injured, and $200 billion in damages. The goal of the drill was to test and evaluate processes, equipment, technologies, and shared workflows. Results helped determine best practices, opportunities for improvement, and potential new capabilities.

"The GIS platform developed for the Golden Guardian 2008 exercise proved to be an invaluable tool," says Paul Hardwick, GIS project manager, San Diego Homeland Security Regional Technology Center. "We were able to post pertinent information to provide situational awareness to the state emergency command center and affected communities as well as areas adjacent to the disaster. The ability to transfer information between systems and to implement server-based tasks for analysis helped make the event a success."

Multiple Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs), including California Resources Agency, deployed ESRI's Situational Awareness Bundle for the ShakeOut. The bundle provides a complete framework for geospatial intelligence analysis, visualization, and management. Users managed multiple events with the bundle's ready-to-operate hardware solution, its powerful data fusion and analysis engine, and a set of fully customizable viewers to display the affected areas. Staff also used terabytes of prerendered data including street networks, raster imagery, topographic maps, shaded relief imagery, and elevation data.

GIS helped collect and manage large volumes of diverse data including simulated damaged buildings, roads, and power and water infrastructure; affected populations; delivered supplies; and the deployment of fire, emergency medical services, law enforcement, and homeland security staff. Live data, such as weather updates, video, and Global Positioning System (GPS) information, was streamed into the GIS database and disseminated to individuals using desktop computers, mobile devices, and Web-enabled laptops. Mobile GIS helped field crews collect remotely sensed data that was automatically sent back to the comprehensive spatial database.

The ShakeOut was organized by the Earthquake Country Alliance (ECA), a partnership of earthquake professionals, emergency responders, business leaders, and community activists. The group has been planning the ShakeOut since 2006.

Flex API for ArcGIS Server

The folks I’ve shown sample Flex viewer sites have really liked what they saw. I think these will be a popular item for a lot of users.


October 29, 2008

New ESRI ArcGIS API for Flex Enhances Web Mapping

Web GIS Tool Gives Developers Direct Access to ArcGIS Server 9.3

Redlands, California—Web geographic information system (GIS) technology takes a forward leap with the release of ESRI's ArcGIS API for Flex. With the Flex API, developers can combine GIS-based Web services from ArcGIS Server with other Web content, which can be displayed in simple, dynamic mapping applications over the Web or on the desktop.

The API exploits the powerful geospatial capabilities of ArcGIS services. Users can transform their local data into a visually rich interactive map, query and display GIS data features and attributes, locate addresses, identify features, and perform complex spatial analytics. Integrated with Adobe Flex Builder 3, Flex is a client-side technology that is rendered by Flash Player 9 or Adobe AIR. As long as developers have access to ArcGIS Server via a URL, they can program with ArcGIS API for Flex remotely. Since the API is built on the Adobe Flex framework, developers can put all Flex components, such as list boxes, data grids, landscapes, and text controls, into custom applications.

Developers can download the API library at the ArcGIS API for Flex Resource Center and access the source code for a variety of samples of displaying tiled maps, turning layers off and on, and switching between different kinds of maps and imagery. The samples demonstrate how to incorporate symbology, create a map layer, geocode, analyze data, add drawing tools, and much more.

The resource center contains specific documentation about using the packages and classes included in the library. The resource center also includes a code gallery with sample applications for the developer community to see each other's work and speed learning.

A podcast is available that features Mansour Raad, a senior software architect at ESRI, discussing the new ArcGIS Server API for Flex. It includes topics such as MXML, ActionScript, REST, and Adobe AIR.

An early adopter of ArcGIS API for Flex and ArcGIS Server is the City of Boston, Massachusetts, which recently deployed the Solar Boston application, a public-facing Web mapping application designed to showcase active renewable energy installations. The application with a fast and visually dynamic user interface allows users to calculate the solar power that can potentially be obtained via rooftops.

"We chose ArcGIS API for Flex because it allowed us to leverage the power of ArcGIS Server while delivering a rich, interactive experience to our users," explains Greg Knight, senior GIS applications developer, Boston Redevelopment Authority. "Development was both fast and enjoyable, and we are pleased with the functionality and performance of the application."

To learn more about the ArcGIS API for Flex and ArcGIS Server, visit www.esri.com/flex or call 1-800-447-9778.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Government Technology: GIS Saves Baltimore County $4 Million Annually

Aug 20, 2008, By Matt Freeman

Baltimore County, Md., operates an enterprise GIS that is available to all county agencies and departments. The county also gives the public access to its GIS maps, data and services through a fee-based program that's designed to provide printed copies of published maps and access to the digital data and services for the creation of custom products based on customer specifications.

While GIS is used extensively by most county departments and is popular with the public, it comes with a hefty price tag. The county's budget for GIS hardware, software, personnel, database maintenance and training has steadily risen since purchasing its first ESRI ArcInfo license back in the mid-1980s. As a result, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) and Office of Budget and Finance initiated a strategic business plan focusing on determining the return on investment and use of Baltimore County's GIS.

The county contracted with Dewberry, a geospatial technology firm, to conduct the study. Rather than examining the historical costs and benefits of the county's GIS technology utilization, the study was accomplished during an eight-month period from September 2006 through May 2007. A thorough analysis of Dewberry's findings were outlined and published in the Baltimore County GIS Strategic Business Plan.

In the plan, Dewberry provides detailed information on existing GIS layers; identifies key users and their uses; establishes current benefits, including cost avoidance, revenue and productivity gains; distinguishes current costs, including software, hardware, support and maintenance; and delivers recommendations on key areas the county could focus on for future GIS use.

By the Numbers
Baltimore County's GIS Benefits

119,377 - Hours saved from using GIS.

$4,052,895 - Money saved from using GIS (total number of hours saved at $33.95 per hour).

$606,626 - Other benefits realized from using GIS (e.g., an agriculture preservation program, savings derived from performing work in-house as opposed to using consultants, and revenue collected from data-request fees).

$4,659,521 - Total annual benefits realized from the use of GIS.

121 percent - Percentage of annual benefits realized from the use of GIS after its cost is subtracted.

221 percent - Percentage of money saved from using GIS.

-- According to the Baltimore County GIS Strategic Business Plan, figures from September 2006 through May 2007

The plan suggests that the county's current enterprise GIS implementation is a viable technology that provides a significant return on investment and important quantitative benefits to its users. However, many business processes were uncovered that could further benefit from additional GIS integration. As a result, the plan sets forth a series of enterprise recommendations that prioritize these findings and proposes a course of action for their implementation. Recommendations and action plans include: hiring a GIS program manager, implementing a GIS-based disease tracker, developing a customized GIS application and automating the retrieval of current data regarding school capacity.

A large portion of the study focuses on GIS as a suitable technology for use by local government on a cost and benefit basis. Costs are broken down into the categories of enterprise, agency and capital. The plan defines costs as any expenditure required to support GIS activities within the county, such as personnel salaries for resources dedicated to database maintenance and administration, hardware and software costs, training and conference costs, capital expenditures, and miscellaneous supply and administrative costs.

Establishing the county's GIS benefits was a more extensive exercise. A team of county staff members worked to define hundreds of activities that utilize GIS for each agency within the county. GIS activities included range from determining the location of sidewalk ramps, to protecting and managing groundwater resources, to maintaining an inventory of all county-owned bridges. By analyzing and comparing the time spent

to perform an activity with and without GIS, Dewberry derived a time-savings benefit. The total hours were then multiplied by a standard rate of $33.95 per hour and used for all personnel savings calculations. Additional benefits included cost avoidance by applying GIS technology, and revenue from the license of GIS products, such as the maps, data and services gained through the public access Web site.

The team also compiled a list of individuals to gather information about the activities, which led to a series of interviews conducted by Dewberry. In the interviews, questions were asked to uncover specific business processes and applications for data uses. In addition to the interviews, questionnaires and follow-up phone calls were used to compile data about the GIS infrastructure, comparable industry practices and public-access programs within the county. The information was used to compile agency-specific reports, which Dewberry presented to each agency.

The impact of the GIS Strategic Business Plan is just beginning to be realized by Baltimore County. GIS personnel have been reassigned to streamline operations, and the OIT is developing GIS service-level agreements to better define the GIS infrastructure, product and services. Another benefit has been the increased communication between agencies on GIS activities and database needs. Overall, the study charts a course forward for GIS use and offers agencies the challenge to further integrate GIS into their business processes.

Matt Freeman is a writer with ESRI and contributed this article to Government Technology

[[ See original article here ]]