Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Updated Datasets on the GIS Hub

A number of datasets have been updated on the GIS Hub by the North Dakota GIS Technical Committee data stewards.  These are:

  • State and Federal Roads (updated, courtesy of the Department of Transportation)
  • Watershed Boundary Dataset (updated, includes watersheds, sub-watersheds, regions, sub-regions, basins, and sub-basins; courtesy of Department of Health)
  • Road Mile Markers (updated, courtesy of the Department of Transportation)
  • City Boundaries (updated, courtesy of the Department of Transportation)
These datasets can be downloaded and/or delivered via data services.  More information on these datasets can be found on the Hub Data Portal. You can search for these datasets (e.g., type in: watershed) or you may find it convenient to simply browse to the data within the Categories section of the Hub Data Portal. After you've located the data of interest, click on the More Information button and then scroll down to the Transfer Options section. In that section, click the Download link to download the data or click one of the other links such as the 'Esri REST including WMS' link to obtain the data service information.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Updated and New Datasets on the GIS Hub

Several datasets have been updated on the GIS Hub and some new ones added by the North Dakota GIS Technical Committee data stewards.  These are:
  • 2013 School Districts (New, Courtesy of the Department of Public Instruction)
  • 2013 School District Centroids (New, Courtesy of the Department of Public Instruction)  
  • Workforce Lodging (Updated, Courtesy of the Department of Health)
  • Department of Emergency Services "Base Map Project" Imagery (updated, courtesy of the Department of Emergency Services and the Department of Transportation)
These datasets can be downloaded and/or delivered via data services.  More information on these datasets can be found on the Hub Data Portal. You can search for these datasets (e.g., type in: districts) or you may find it convenient to simply browse to the data within the Categories section of the Hub Data Portal. After you've located the data of interest, click on the More Information button and then scroll down to the Transfer Options section. In that section, click the Download link to download the data or click one of the other links such as the 'Esri REST including WMS' link to obtain the data service information.

Friday, September 19, 2014

2014 NSGIC Conference Summary


  • The NSGIC conferences that I've attended have always been very worthwhile and have provided excellent learning opportunities.  This conference raised the bar even higher.
  • One of the things that struck me the most is that there is a shift that is beginning to happen.  This has to do with the vendors in the geospatial community in terms of how they are working together, the services that they are offering, and the innovation is that is happening now by companies who previously were not as "mainstream" as they are now.
  • Google came out swinging
    • They are now offering hosting services including Windows Servers running ArcGIS Server
    • Storage prices are now in the neighborhood of $12K for 50TB/year
    • They are offering 6" resolution imagery refreshed 1-3 years
    • With their acquisition of Skybox, they have a constellation of 24 satellites that can acquire 15" resolution imagery over the earth every 3 days 
    • They are the world's 4 largest hardware company, making their own
    • They offer a map gallery and crisis mapping
    • The Texas DOT uses Google servers; their travel information map has been load test for 100K hits/second.
  • Hosting of imagery and LiDAR by commercial vendors continues to increase.  This saves on storage and software costs.  During times of emergency, the data can be shipped via drives.
  • Aggregation of open source and commercial software to create cost-effective solutions for their clients continues where those companies specializing in doing that style of work are positioning themselves very well for the future. This may be creating some friction in existing business models as evidenced by one well-respected company being told by Esri that they could no longer be an Esri business partner.  This company just happens to use Esri AND other company's software.
  • Hexagon Geospatial is offering an innovative licensing approach for entire states using the population of the state as a criteria in the pricing model.  Those states already using some of the software now owned by Hexagon (e.g., GeoMedia, ERDAS, Intergraph) may find this to be an attractive solution though I still have concerns on when the ROI would be realized based on training and other transition costs.
  • Open data received a lot of stage time.   
    • A brilliant presentation was made by the New York GIO who described open data as being:  Machine readable, posted online, downloadable, free, no restrictions on use, provider held harmless, has metadata.   
    • This wave of open data has lots of similarities to what North Dakota and other states have been doing for some time, but in this new wave there is more focus on making more data more accessible.  
    • New York's governor has issued an open data executive order
    • Open data buzz terms:  "The new economy is the data", "Open data is the next wave, government is best served by embracing it fully", "people are moving away from selling data to open data to realize greater benefit"
  • UAS data collection continues to improve.  Based on discussions with a vendor, they can produce 3cm resolution imagery and 3-5cm vertical accuracy.
  • States having new portals include WY and MN. WY's new portal uses Drupal on the front end and includes Open Data for serving up vector data.  Minnesota's GIO did a very nice job of describing how his state is CKAN and their Geospatial Commons will be replacing their multiple existing portals.  CKAN is a powerful open source tool that is also used by data.gov.  I've looked at it before and after this week plan to look at it more.
  • Out of the box thinking was demonstrated by a number of the "git-r-done" gentlemen from Arkansas
    • Text, in this case text from ancient Middle East documents are parsed, ran through an authoritative database, through a tool that prepares the text for Geographic JSON and then mapped.  This results in mapping of documents. An approach such as this can also be used to map legislation, to show where are funds being spent.
    • A budget atlas is used to show how legislators vote and how funds are spent.  For example, Medicaid vendor claims by senate district
  • There was a lot of presentations and discussion on addressing and centerlines.  North Dakota has much to learn from the other states including working with local government, standards, and the benefits for all level governments to work together to develop and maintain these datasets. I hear a lot about locals should be submitting their data to the state and the state can make fixes and send it back.  But a South Carolina speaker said, "Let the locals make the fix, not the level above." 
  • Esri presented how ArcGIS Online is being used by members of the U.S. Congress to display issues pertinent to their states.  For example, where has the house member been? Where is constituent mail coming from? This can be very beneficial for things such as embedding maps in galleries and in press releases.
  • Open source was again present at this year's conference.  A notable quote from the gentleman who was involved with the open source National Broadband Map "Mobile is the new desktop".  He was also the person who displayed this slide:
  • For those of you looking to install and use Esri's GeoPortal, you may want to also look into Esri's Open Data as that appears to be the focus of much of Esri's current development work relating to data discovery and use.
  • LiDAR is always present at NSGIC.  A useful web site noted by the U.S.G.S. is the U.S. elevation inventory tool.
  • Another shift that I first noticed at last year's NSGIC but much more pronounced this year is the shrinking of the federal geospatial role in some areas.  For example, Montana has assumed ownership of the Public Land Survey System data.  Utah is just about ready to do the same thing. Much of this stems from errors in the data that are not being addressed by federal agencies.  BLM, who is the steward of the PLSS, does not have/use GIS and thus they do not see the errors a GIS users sees.  As usual, Utah's geospatial folks continue to create some nice tools such as their PLSS viewer.
And now, a few important points:
  1. You do not have to be a GIS Coordinator, GIS Manager, GIO, etc. to attend.  You can be from a state, county, city, Tribal organization and no matter your title, you can attend. 
  2. Presentations from this NSGIC conference can be found here on the NSGIC web site  

Monday, July 28, 2014

Updated and New Datasets on the GIS Hub

Several datasets have been updated on the GIS Hub and some new ones added by the North Dakota GIS Technical Committee data stewards.  These are:

  • City Boundaries (Updated, Courtesy of the Department of Transportation)
  • Railroads (Updated, courtesy of the Department of Transportation) 
  • County Roads (Updated, courtesy of the Department of Transportation) 
  • NDDOT Landmarks (Updated, courtesy of the Department of Transportation)
  • USGS 2011 National Land Cover (New! Courtesy of the Game and Fish Department)
  • USDA-NASS 2012 Cropland Data Layer (New! Courtesy of the Game and Fish Department)
  • USDA-NASS 2013 Cropland Data Layer (New! Courtesy of the Game and Fish Department)

These datasets can be downloaded and/or delivered via data services.  More information on these datasets can be found on the Hub Data Portal. You can search for these datasets (e.g., type in: landmarks) or you may find it convenient to simply browse to the data within the Categories section of the Hub Data Portal. After you've located the data of interest, click on the More Information button and then scroll down to the Transfer Options section. In that section, click the Download link to download the data or click one of the other links such as the 'Esri REST including WMS' link to obtain the data service information.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Updated and New Datasets on the GIS Hub

Several datasets have been updated on the GIS Hub and a new one added by the North Dakota GIS Technical Committee data stewards.  These are:

  • City Locations (Updated, Courtesy of the Department of Health)
  • Assessed Lakes and Reservoirs (Updated, courtesy of the Department of Health) 
  • Assessed Rivers and Streams (Updated, courtesy of the Department of Health) 
  • Human Service Regions (New! Courtesy of the Department of Health)
  • GNIS (Updated, Courtesy of the Department of Health)

These datasets can be downloaded and/or delivered via data services.  More information on these datasets can be found on the Hub Data Portal. You can search for these datasets (e.g., type in: assessed) or you may find it convenient to simply browse to the data within the Categories section of the Hub Data Portal. After you've located the data of interest, click on the More Information button and then scroll down to the Transfer Options section. In that section, click the Download link to download the data or click one of the other links such as the 'Esri REST including WMS' link to obtain the data service information.

Monday, May 5, 2014

MidAmerica GIS Consortium (MAGIC): Symposium Wrap-Up

Another excellent MAGIC Symposium was held last week in Kansas City, Missouri. This was the 14th Symposium with the first having been held in Lawrence, Kansas in 1987. 

I make a habit of telling people that the MAGIC Symposium is one of my favorite conferences because it provides content ranging from coordination/oversight to very technical content.  This Symposium certainly continued the tradition of providing excellent substance.

What follows are just some of the highlights from the Symposium that I experienced. I focused on those sessions that are most applicable to my work; therefore there is a certain slant to what is noted. The MAGIC Symposium is so broad that one report is not enough. But here I go…

The opening keynote was provided by Ben Balter of GitHub. He promotes the concept of collaborative mapping, using the open source model.  In fact, using GitHub, he said we can consider “treating data as code” where data is stored AND presented on GitHub.  In doing so, data is liberated. He showed a number of interesting examples of using GeoJSON to build maps of farmer markets, subway stations, and locations of towers from the FCC database. In another example, he created a “DC WiFi Social” map showing those bars having beer and WiFi. Another person took that info and removed those locations that had TVs (to reduce the noise level). Anyone can make such edits but those are only on their version until the change is committed after review (like code). Ben’s slide deck is available here and includes links to the live GitHub maps.


One of the ways that MAGIC promotes GIS in the mid-continent region is to provide grants to facilitate that work. During the opening session, two of those grant recipients provided an overview on what they’ve done with their grants.  MAGIC also recognizes work well done; the State of Oklahoma, the City of Ames, Iowa, and Jackson County, Missouri were recipients of these prestigious awards.

I attended the "ArcGIS as a Platform" workshop that went well beyond a description of how all of the ArcGIS pieces fit together.  For me it turned out to be a solid tips and tricks session focusing on optimization of hardware, software, licensing, and architecture. With what I learned here, this one workshop literally paid for my entire expense of attending the Symposium and then some.  A few of the key items of interest:
  • Stop using the personal geodatabase if you haven’t already  
  • Frequently update statistics on the enterprise geodatabase
  • For disaster recovery, considering sending tiles to ArcGIS Online via a tile package
  • EDN can be used to create the tile cache
  • Set up a staging environment that mimics production; use this to upgrade and test new versions, then edit the load balancer to point to the new environment
  • Check out this document for links to performance and scalability
  • When starting out with ArcGIS Online establish vision and governance
  • Data must be available via mobile devices; more mobile devices access the Internet than PCs

I attended a session titled, “Working with Imagery and LiDAR in ArcGIS” that provided some excellent tips and tricks.  This session really did a nice job showing how one can use the tools right in ArcMap to dynamically create data without first having to create derived products stored on disk.  And, I learned a tip that might help you. Have you ever tried to open a folder containing imagery in ArcMap only to have to wait forever for the folder to open?  In ArcMap Options, click on the Raster tab and then click on the File Formats button, and uncheck all those formats that you do not use. 

ArcGIS Online was everywhere at the Symposium.  There is no doubt in my mind that ArcGIS Online is already becoming a major component of the Esri software stack and that this will only increase.  If you are a user of Esri software and are not yet using or at least familiar with ArcGIS Online, you really should be. 

  • I attended a session titled, “Best Practices for Working with ArcGIS Online” that presented many of the basics but also provided many tips and tricks.  A good resource is the blog on resources.arcgis.com.  One of those blog items that was highlighted during the session was this one.
  • Oregon is deploying ArcGIS Online as an enterprise tool where state agency users are billed on a per-user basis, but for counties, in return for their data, the county users have access to ArcGIS Online at no cost.  Currently, Oregon has about 300 users and expects this to grow to 1000 users by the end of the year.
  • In the City of Omaha, they have found that over 80% of their field collection is now done with a phone or tablet using ArcGIS Online.  The remaining collection is done with higher precision, traditional devices. The biggest growth of their ArcGIS Online presence has been from non-GIS people, with maps including Omaha landmarks, crime map, county commissioner districts, community centers, specialty parks (such as dog parks, skateboard parks), and land re-utilization maps (showing lots the city wants to sell)
  • Jackson County, Missouri is using ArcGIS Online for mapping of culverts, signs, and guardrails.  They are using iPads for this work.
  • There are several good examples at http://tryitlive.arcgis.com/
  • There is a growing list of products that work with ArcGIS Online are currently available and/or will be soon.  These include:
    • Collector for ArcGIS
    • Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS
    • Explorer for ArcGIS (new!)
    • ArcGIS Open Data (new and beta!)
 
And finally (for me), MAGIC had “Short Attention Span Theaters” which provided an opportunity to hear a lot of info very quickly.  Two of my favorites were:
  • The Oklahoma Office of Geographic Information support following the 2013 Moore, OK tornado. They actually burned up a belt on the plotter.
  • There are 9,365 languages in the world with 440 of those extinct. The researchers created a global model to predict areas at risk for extinction of language.

If you haven't had a chance to be a part of MAGIC, please consider doing so, there are lots of opportunities, just visit the web site or contact me.  And be sure to put April 24 - 28, 2016 on your calendar, that the date of the next MAGIC symposium which will be held at the Overland Park Convention Center in Overland Park, KS.
 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Updated Datasets on the GIS Hub

A number of datasets have been updated on the GIS Hub by the North Dakota GIS Technical Committee data stewards.  These are:

  • Basemap_Imagery (Williams County updated, courtesy of Williams Co.)
  • Watershed Boundary Dataset (updated, includes watersheds, sub-watersheds, regions, sub-regions, basins, and sub-basins; data courtesy of Department of Health)
  • Department of Emergency Services "Base Map Project" Imagery (updated, courtesy of the Department of Emergency Services and the Department of Transportation)
These datasets can be downloaded and/or delivered via data services.  More information on these datasets can be found on the Hub Data Portal. You can search for these datasets (e.g., type in: watershed) or you may find it convenient to simply browse to the data within the Categories section of the Hub Data Portal. After you've located the data of interest, click on the More Information button and then scroll down to the Transfer Options section. In that section, click the Download link to download the data or click one of the other links such as the 'Esri REST including WMS' link to obtain the data service information.