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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Roger Tomlinson, who this year is celebrating 50 years in leading the world into the era of GIS, serves as master of ceremonies at the Esri UC Senior Executive Seminar each year. He leads and august group of speakers and every year encapsulates the "gold nuggets of clarity" from this group. His summary:

"There is a a move toward nationalized GIS," referring to India's Sam Pitroda, India's "father of the communication revolution" in that country is now an advisor to the prime minister for the National GIS Initiative.

But Tomlinson notes, "We are lacking in structure, personnel and leadership."  Tomlinson emphasized that GIS can now provide a justifiable ROI but cautioned that "This is not an insignificant time; we are at a moment in time when technology has reached a critical mass. The availability of skilled people is improving but the supply of data is exploding. [The] GIS manger in the future will having an enormous task of high volume [of data].

Tomlinson also noted that there is a greater public awareness of GIS. "All the indicators point to this being a takeoff point of a ubiquitous use of GIS."Every school kid ought to know something about GIS. But Tomlinson also warned of having students use the tool without understanding the fundamentals. " If you sit down to use it you need to know something about geographical problem solving."

by Joe Francica on 07/22 at 09:37 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Rob Sopkin, the Vice President of  Store Development – East for Starbucks provided and overview of the company's utilization of geospatial information for site selection. "Every decision about opening a store is about a $1 Million investment for Starbucks," said Sopkin. At the height of Starbuck's growth there were opening 800 stores per year. But while you would think that a few underperforming stores wouldn't be a big deal, Sopkin said that one poor decision will negate five good decisions. "Site selection is often a mix of art and science; a combination of strategy and opportunity," said Sopking

Starbucks is using Esri's Business Analyst Online to address a need for better efficiency by Store Development Managers (SDM).  Sopkin said that his real estate site packages are full of information with many assumptions that need to be checked. He relies on the ability to challenge his SDMs to test different scenarios to better qualify opportunities and ascertain whether the original  assumptions are correct.

During the economic downturn, Starbucks went through a period that saw many underperforming outlets. It necessitated the closing of 800 locations.  Sopkin and his team did numerous "post mortems" on stores and looked at the original site packages to challenge assumptions on the original decision. Did they have a solid scientific assumption?  Sopkin now provides iPads to all SDMs so they can check and recheck assumptions with timely demographic and other location intelligence data.

by Joe Francica on 07/22 at 09:15 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Honolulu, Hawaii is the 10th largest city in the U.S. It's population is 953,000 and the metropolitan area covers the entire island of Oahu. There are more than 85,000 tourists on any given day making the city swell to over 1 million people every day. In an area constrained by mountains and sea traffic congestion is the worst in the U.S, even beating out Los Angeles says Mayor Peter Carlisle while speaking at the Esri UC.

Honolulu is at a crossroads in terms of traffic. "It’s abysmal," says Carlisle. "Our infrastructure is dependent on a public alternative."  That alternative is a new light rail system which the city is ready to ready to undertake at a cost of $5.5 Billion. But from nearly the start of the project, geospatial information will be used at every stage to monitor progress.

Honolulu was an early adopter of GIS and Carlisle admits that the city couldn’t do its job without it. GIS is used for permit tracking which leads to a more effective process that supports economic development and helps maintain a healthy economy. GIS is also used to support the policy making level and even employs "Geo Accounting." Carlisle said his has identified $3.3 Million in additional tax revenues because of a better reporting system that tracks the percentage of completed construction projects, which is then reported to the tax assessors. and allows city to send assessors. The process has allowed the city to capture values that they had let slide by in the past.
Carlisle is an enthusiastic proponent of GIS and it's his leadership that is driving adoption in all city departments. He admits to not being the most savvy about GIS but he realizes the incredible value it brings to his city. "I’m committed to having subject matter experts; hire the very best and get out of the way. I am very hostile to micromanager and the control freak. Our job is to inspire, encourage and lead," said Carlisle.

by Joe Francica on 07/22 at 09:14 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Every year before the Esri International User Conference, Jack Dangermond, Esri's president, invites executives in government and business to discuss the challenges the face in managing their business and how geospatial information can support their work.  Over 300 gather for sessions where C-level managers provide mini keynotes. From mayors to ministers to cabinet secretaries, each has a story to tell, one seemingly more complex in scope than the other.

Dangermond, for his part, sets the stage by hitting themes on cloud computing, location-aware mobile devices and the impact of social media. More importantly, he lets executives talk to other executives. There is no greater benefit than hearing someone with a huge problem tell how GIS was not just a tool but, as the Honorable Maurice Williamson, Minister for Building and Construction and Land Information  for New Zealand described it as the most "incredibly valuable tool for a dreadful experience" when he discussed the earthquakes that leveled many buildings and took many lives in Christchurch in 2010 and 2011.

Dangermond hit on many themes in his brief introduction including:

  • Data is growing exponentially with LiDAR, crowdsourcing, and satellite imagery
  • Crowdsourcing can complement authoritative sources
  • Social media is providing new data sources
  • Apps on mobile devices support the notion of “pervasive GIS”
  • GIS can now be implemented on multiple platforms.
  • We can begin to deliver geography as a platform

This last statement has to give everyone pause because most people probably have little understanding of what he means. He's not referring to Google Earth as a platform to visualize data nor a web portal that simply displays thematic maps or a web service that provides some limited applications. Fundamentally, Dangermond believes that geography is a first consideration in analyzing enterprise data. Not the last … not the middle … not by throwing up a basic map of sales by state into a BI dashboard. No, Dangermond believes you base your performance indices on the fundamental premise that location-based data is inherent and strategic.

by Joe Francica on 07/22 at 09:08 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

"The economic crisis and decline in budgets have motivated us to do more with less," said Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary, Water and Science, U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) speaking at the Senior Executive Seminar of the Esri User Conference. Castle's challenge is multiplied by the fact that she also coordinates activities on the Federal Geographic Data Committee that addresses needs across multiple federal government agencies. "Today, data is used by GIS pros; our challenge is to make that data products available and usable by anyone," said Castle

Jerry Johnston, newly appointed Geographic Information Officer for the DOI, discussed the continuing build out for that hosts and catalogs data sources from other DOI departments. By using a cloud-shared hosting infrastructure and  building communities of practice Johnston is trying to flatten the interface so that more data is easily exposed to more users.

Johnston said that the platform is evolving to a policy and technology framework that will help enable access to information products that support timely policy decisions, easy and inexpensive data publishing and sharing that facilitates collaboration.

Johnston said he is working toward presenting  a “consumer mapping” experience for non-experts that empowers government agencies and their partners to more effectively use geography to tell their stories to a wider variety of stakeholders.

by Joe Francica on 07/22 at 09:06 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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