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Implementing ArcGIS

19 Posts authored by: acarnow-esristaff Employee

Here is the last of my twelve posts as a GovLoop Featured Contributor. Thanks to them for the opportunity to support their amazing community and platform. This one is on the Importance of Communicating Your Value to Leaders. 

Here is the eleventh of my twelve posts as a GovLoop Featured Contributor. This one discusses how the future is now for the 3D digital twin in government: 

Here is the tenth of my twelve posts as a GovLoop Featured Contributor. This one discusses how GIS can be used as an effective Civic Engagement tool: 

Here is the ninth of my twelve posts as a GovLoop Featured Contributor. This one discusses how the Emergency Management industry provides a great example of the potential of GIS: 

Here is the eighth of my twelve posts as a GovLoop Featured Contributor. This one discusses the importance of a business plan for your GIS: 

Here is the seventh of my twelve posts as a GovLoop Featured Contributor. This one discusses Best Practices: 


Here is the sixth of my twelve posts as a GovLoop Featured Contributor. This one discusses how the Internet of Things (IoT) really requires integration with an enterprise GIS: 

Here is the fifth of my twelve posts as a GovLoop Featured Contributor.  This one discusses when to write code and when not to: 

Here is the fourth of my twelve posts as a GovLoop Featured Contributor.  This one highlights the work at the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services: 

Here is the third of my twelve posts as a GovLoop Featured Contributor: 



Here is the second of my twelve posts as a GovLoop Featured Contributor: 

For the next twelve weeks, I am a GovLoop featured contributor. Please check out my first post: 

For those of you that were not able to join us at this year’s Esri International Users Conference, I would like to take some time to share the excitement we had in San Diego meeting and greeting each other at the GIS Managers Open Summit.  Over 300 people were registered for the Summit this year.


We had an exciting agenda, starting at 8:00 am Tuesday morning with registration and networking.


Check out the Speaker Bios. (Adam Carnow, Tom Tibbits, Paul Giroux, and Nick O’Day)

We started our morning with a speed networking session; a chance to meet and greet attendees from every part of the GIS community.  Our goal was to meet as many folks as possible to start our day.

Following introductions, Adam Carnow provided a presentation on Executive/Elected Official Sponsorship of GIS.  Adam introduced some special Elected Official guests who participated in a panel discussion.  These guests included the following:

  • Katrina Scarborough – Osceola Co., FL Property Appraiser
  • Tyson Fettes – Racine Co., WI Register of Deeds
  • Eddie Canon – Cobb Co., GA Support Services Agency Director

Following the panel discussion, Adam introduced everyone to the “Lean Coffee” communication methodology that we would use to drive our round table discussions.

Following each presentation, we had round table discussions related to the presentation topics.  Each table was free to introduce topics for discussion, which were then voted on by the table members and discussed based on the identified table topic priorities.  The “Lean Coffee” process got all table members engaged and promoted some very exciting and meaningful discussions.

Tom Tibbitts provided our second presentation on Managing a Utility; Solving Assets, Operations, Projects & Hurricanes with Mobile-GIS, Cityworks and Insights.  Tom’s presentation was followed by our second period of round table discussions.

After our lunch break, Paul Giroux presented our third presentation on An Elusive Enterprise.  We followed with our third period of round table discussions.

Our final presentation was provided by Nick O’DayPunching above your Weight: Maximizing the Impact of your GISWe followed with our fourth period of round table discussions and closed with a Panel Discussion with Adam, Tom, Paul, and Nick.

Throughout the day we asked attendees to share key topics from their table discussions on our GIS Managers Round Table Take Away board.  We had a great time in San Diego.  We were introduced to some great technology, met new friends, and had some great conversations for moving GIS forward.  Thanks to all who contributed to this successful event.  We will see you next year!

Please bear with me as I set the context for this allegory, I promise there is a meaningful connection with GIS…


You have probably never heard of John Reed.  He was a Hessian mercenary, then known as Johannes Ried, working for the British during the American Revolutionary War.  In 1782, he deserted his post in Savannah, GA, and later settled in Cabarrus County, in Central North Carolina, to make his living as a farmer.  In 1799, John’s twelve-year old son, Conrad, found a sixteen-pound, yellow rock in Little Meadow Creek on the family farm.  The Reeds used it as a doorstop.


In 1802, a jeweler from Fayetteville, North Carolina, identified the rock as a gold nugget, and offered to buy it from Mr. Reed.  John sold it to him for $3.50, or a week’s worth of wages.  The value of the nugget at the time was approximately $3,600.  This is the first documented commercial gold find in the United States.


Shortly after this event, John started a mining operation.  John Reed ended up a wealthy man.  The mining operations ceased in 1912.  The Reed Gold Mine is designated as a National Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  It makes for a great visit, especially with children, so they can learn this important bit of American History, as well as on a hot day, as the mine provides some welcome, natural air conditioning.  You can even pan for gold yourself.  I have found gold flakes each time I have visited.


So, what does this have to do with GIS?  Too often I see organizations that have implemented GIS and use only a small number of its capabilities:

  • They focus only on mapping,
  • use is restricted to trained GIS professionals,
  • there is little use of spatial analysis capabilities, and
  • non-GIS users think of the GIS group only as mapmakers.


This is extremely frustrating since there is so much additional potential in the use of a web-enabled location platform powered by GIS.  For most of these organizations, they have this powerful tool right there, but do not take advantage of the true value of the platform they own.  Most of the time, it is because they are either averse to change, or they do not know how to take advantage of it.


So, what can GIS professionals learn from John Reed?  Think of your GIS as John’s golden doorstop.  Here is this incredibly valuable resource just sitting there, not being valued to its full potential.  Sure it might prop the door open to simple mapping, but think about how it can contribute to making your community a better place, how it can help with real problems we are struggling with, like homelessness, the opioid epidemic, mosquito-borne diseases…  As an ArcGIS user, you have access to free, configurable, supported solutions for real problems like these, and many others.  These solutions can be deployed, sometimes in minutes, without writing any code.  They are open source, supported and will continue to evolve along with ArcGIS.


Now think about how John realized the true value of the doorstop, and not only profited from the gold he found on his property, but how he changed from farmer to miner, to better take advantage of his situation.  Today’s next-generation, web-powered GIS requires a different mindset than the traditional mapmaking-centric GIS of the past.  Your job as a GIS professional has changed from performing GIS work for others, to enabling others to leverage GIS capabilities with easy-to-use, focused apps, that work on any device.  The real power of GIS is in spatial analysis - your job is to share that with others, so that they can understand that GIS is for more than making maps. 


Take a look at what may be holding your door open. A golden doorstop? Mine it for all its worth.


Want an example of how easy ArcGIS app deployment can be?  Check out this story: Accelerating Small-Town Services on a Small-Town Budget | ArcNews 


Want help? Esri and our business partners are here to help you every step of the way.  You can also start with this Esri Training course: 


Thanks to Andy Huntington and Brian Baldwin for peer review of this post.



Wikipedia, Reed Gold Mine:

North Carolina Historic Sites, Reed Gold Mine:

This post was originally published on LinkedIn, April 8, 2016.

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of being part of the team representing Esri at the American Planning Association (APA) National Planning Conference in Phoenix, AZ (see a picture of the Phoenix Convention Center above).  I really feel at home among planners, as I have a Masters degree in Urban & Regional Planning, attained the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) certification, spent part of my career as a Planner, as well as worked with planners as a GIS practitioner.

Esri has been supporting this conference for a long time, which is great because planning is a spatial industry and naturally lends itself to the application of GIS. Our participation includes conducting a series of hands-on workshops, presentations, sponsorship and exhibiting.  There were over 4,000 planners there from around the U.S. and abroad.  If you want more info on the conference, check out the Twitter hashtag #APA16.

We were very busy and showcased solutions like ArcGIS Online, Story Maps, free and configurable Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) apps from our ArcGIS for Local Government solutions gallery, Business Analyst Online (BAO), GeoPlanner, and other planning solutions, like Geodesign and 3D.  The bottom line was that quite often planners realized that their view of GIS was inaccurate - there are a lot of web-based tools that they can use themselves to be more productive, efficient and effective.  Most of them are used to having to learn ArcGIS for Desktop, or to have a full-time GIS specialist perform the GIS-related tasks for them.

Usually the discussion with these planners would turn to the obvious question of how much does this cost, in reference to one of the products or solutions we were demonstrating.  For many of the solutions, the cost is very reasonable (a 5 user license for BAO is $500 per year and GeoPlanner is $500 per year per user).  For much of the rest of the solutions (ArcGIS Online, Story Maps, ArcGIS for Local Government), there is no additional cost because they are part of the ArcGIS platform that their organization (most often a city, county, regional or state agency) already owns.

Once they realized that their organization already owned the ArcGIS platform, and that it included a bunch of solutions that they could use every day in their jobs, they were very surprised.  Most often their next comment was, "Why hasn't my GIS Manager shown these to me?"  I had no answer for that.

Therein lies a lesson for all of us in the GIS industry: we have all got to do more outreach to show our colleagues what the current GIS-powered location platform can do for them.  More people using GIS (yes, web GIS is real GIS) is a great thing - as GIS practitioners we all know that using the power of geography really can make the world a better place.

Planners especially know this, as they are on the front lines of trying to improve our communities.  So reach out to planners, and other non-GIS colleagues, and show them what the current technology can do for them.  Make this a priority and part of your daily work.  Increasing your user base (dare I say "customers"), should be one of your primary missions as a GIS practitioner.