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How Big Data and Location Analytics are Impacting GIS for Government

Post Highlights

  • Esri and GovLoop hosted a meetup for the GIS community
  • Presentations include insights on how big data and location analytics are impacting GIS for government
  • GIS now has implications for non-traditional users, and agencies can leverage current IT investments along with GIS

Yesterday GovLoop and Esri hosted a meetup for the GIS community, the event focused on some of the hot button issues surrounding GIS. The sessions covered GIS and big data, location analytics, business intelligence and how to best leverage GIS resources in Excel.

GIS continues to be a transformative technology for the public sector. As data sets become more complex, interconnected, and complicated, GIS serves as a way for agencies to unlock the power of data through spatial analysis. By viewing data on a map, organizations can discover new insights, findings and improve public sector decision-making in a time of limited resources.

The first presentation was on Big Data: NoSql and Spatial Analytics, Mansour Raad, Senior Software Architect, Esri, gave a fascinating overview of big data trends and how they relate to GIS. At the heart of GIS is data, and with society creating complex and large volumes of data, GIS serves as a way to highlight new relationships, patterns, and insights that traditionally would remain unknown.

During the session, one of the themes that emerged was using big data as a way to tell compelling stories. With big data, new insights, trends, patterns and ideas emerged that are not seen by the traditional way we view data. Raad defined big data through the typical definition of data with volume, variety, and velocity, with the caveat that big data is information that you cannot use through traditional mediums. Truly, with speed and variety of data being used by the public sector, agencies need to start thinking differently, because traditional methods are no longer the right way.

3 V’s of Big Data

  • Volume: not able to be processed by one machine, multiple parameters
  • Velocity: the speed of information, streaming of real-time data and using the information to make recommendations and decisions.
  • Variety: data that is completely unstructured, potentially incomplete.

Evan Caldwell, Solution Engineer, Esri, was the next speaker, and his focus was on GIS and business intelligence. Esri is currently geoenabling existing enterprise platforms, such as customer relationship management (CRM), business intelligence (BI), asset management, collaboration, office productivity software to extend the use of GIS within an organization, and leverage current investments in new ways.

Caldwell was clear to mention that every organization deals with a location component. By mapping locations, in an easy to use way, agencies and businesses can find new insights about business operations and processes, and improve services for customers. For organizations, the use of business location data and GIS increases collaboration across the agency, along with improving business functions. In many instances, GIS software can be layered on top of CRM or ERP systems, making implementation very easy, and leveraging resources in new ways.

The final speaker at the event was Flora Vale, Solution Engineer, Esri. Flora provided a demonstration on how GIS can be used to unlock spreadsheets and perform mapping functions. Flora’s demonstration showed how challenging it could be to interact with a map in a PDF form, in which functionality is often lost, and data cannot be viewed dynamically.

With Esri, got users can access basic GIS functions directly with Excel, to retain dynamic maps, and fully customize data to tell the right story. This allows people who are not traditionally GIS users to quickly and easily access information, layer data, and fully customize information.

3 Take-Aways From Event

  • Big data has dramatically changed operations for business – GIS is providing new insights, opportunities and redefining service delivery.
  • The use of GIS and location allows agencies to leverage existing business applications in new, innovative ways.
  • GIS extends far beyond traditional users, driving improved decision making in government.

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Esri was founded in 1969, it realized even then that geographic information system (GIS) technology could make a difference in society. GIS helps people to solve problems at local, regional, national, and global scales. Access maps and apps at ArcGIS.com. Be sure to check out all the
 GIS resources produced by Esri and GovLoop.

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