Whether you’re an analyst at DoD tracking troop movements across Iraq or a management specialist at FEMA interested in coastal water level trends, almost everyone in the federal government can benefit from geospatial information systems technology (GIS). Current GIS strategies are delving into real-time analysis of big data that work to give users aggregated data trends from some of the largest data sets ever.
To learn more about these cutting edge GIS capabilities, Suzanne Foss, Product Engineer for Real-Time GIS at Esri and Jeremiah Carroll, Federal Partner Manager for OSIsoft joined GovLoop for a GIS & Real-Time Data meetup.
Esri’s ArcGIS GeoEvent extension allows you to monitor your assets in real time. This means the software ingests and analyzes high velocity data as it’s produced, storing it in a database for instant and long-term use. From there, the data can be quickly visualized through dynamic aggregation. Additionally, the extension allows for real-time response to events, automatically sending alerts to key personnel, updating the map, and interacting with other enterprise systems. “Utilizing spatiotemporal data storage allows for more data to be utilized and at much faster speeds than we are used to,” Foss explained.
Foss offered an example of this process in action. Recently, Esri partnered with FlightAware to gather data on flight paths in the United States. This partnership allows Esri to take flight path data that FlightAware gathers and run analytics on it. Over the course of three weeks, the GeoEvent extension captured about 400 million events in FlightAware. The extension automatically and dynamically aggregated the data and visualized it on a map so filters can be placed on it.
Foss gave an interactive example as she highlighted a flight from San Francisco to Atlanta. When she filtered the map to only show this flight, the normal, most traveled, flight path was indicated by a thick purple line while deviations could be seen by the thinner lines to the right and the left of the normal flight path. On the map, there is a clear visualization of deviation in the data. Through this visualization, government employees can start to determine why there is a deviation and what happened to cause it.
The visual data map allows you to click on a cell and see the raw data or consume it in an aggregated way. This versatility creates a dynamic pattern map that never goes out of date. “Seeing the information in real-time and also being able to work with it after the fact is at the heart of the upgrades in ArcGIS architecture,” Foss explained.
Additionally, GeoAnalytics capabilities are improving batch analyses. Spatiotemporal event information can be extremely useful but it is challenging to make sense of it because the data is constantly drawing from the endpoints. GeoAnalytics tools aggregate these large quantities of data, allowing the user to identify places where the data deviates.
Foss gave the example of identifying suspicious banking activity through GeoAnalytics. She explained that money launderers often visit numerous bank branches, geographically close to each other and send transfers to the same person from the different branches.
Typically this would be a very challenging activity to track through data analysis. However, GeoAnalytics tools allow for multi-dimensional relationship analysis to find relationships between time, space, and other attributes. As a result, you can identify how many transactions took place within a mile of each other, within an hour, and that were sent to the same recipient. Then, you can prioritize your results for further analysis.
Multi-dimensional analytics used to take days to run, if the capabilities to run them were even available at all. But with ArcGIS tools, “you have the capability to run these tests daily and identify these interesting or suspicious behaviors as they happen, allowing you to answer bigger questions than ever before,” Foss said.
Carroll introduced another dimension to real-time analytics through OSIsoft’s PI systems infrastructure. This system has interface connectors that collect data from objects they are attached to and creates a dataset that can then be graphed.
While Carroll said that taking data from a dataset and creating a real time graph is beneficial, putting it into a map is much more useful to analyzing and understanding the problem. Partnering with companies like Esri and utilizing ArcGIS to aggregate data allows for predictive maintenance and security and provides value to your data by making it much more useful.
Overall, partnerships are key in continuing successful real-time GIS and big data innovation. Without partners like FlightAware and OSIsoft, Esri would not have data to analyze and without Esri, OSIsoft would lack the software that brings meaning to their data. Carroll articulated, “we believe people with data can transform the world.” With continued partnerships and innovation, this belief can continue becoming a reality.