ESRI: Shaping the Future with GIS

Jack Dangermond, President & Founder “I can see something changing in the GIS world,” remarked Jack Dangermond, President and Founder,Esri, at the 2014 Esri User Conference in July—the largest Geographic Information System (GIS)event of its kind. “We are about to see GIS reach its full potential,” he continued, to a packed San Diego Convention Center filled with more than 16,000 industry experts from about 132 countries. Dangermond, a pioneer in spatial analysis methods, was alluding to the amazing impacts GIS has had, right from environmental monitoring and marine biology to cadastral management and transportation. An even more interesting application of GIS is the mapping of generous taxi tippers in the New York City. The possibilities are endless, and the life changing work done by various companies stand as a testament.

Dangermond strongly believes that geography is at the heart of a more resilient and sustainable future. The company, which he founded with his wife Laura Dangermond as nothing but a small research group focused on land-use planning in 1969, develops GIS technology that function as an integral component in nearly every type of organization today. Esri is trusted by governments, industry leaders, academics, and NGOs to connect them with the analytical knowledge they need to make critical decisions that shape the planet. “Our technology enables organizations to create responsible and sustainable solutions to problems at local and global scales,” proclaims a proud Dangermond.

With many government and military organizations increasing their investment in GIS for enhancement of their national infrastructure and security, analysts at Research and Markets expect the GIS market to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.96 percent over the next couple of years. Enjoying a significantly large portion of the GIS market share, Esri is a prime vendor in this space and is widely recognized as the technical and market leader in GIS, pioneering innovative solutions for working with spatial data.

Mapping and Analyzing the World

Laying the foundation for an organization’s GIS is Esri’s ArcGIS, a platform for designing and managing solutions through the application of geographic knowledge. It enables organizations to create, organize, and share geographic information and tools with anyone by using intelligent online maps and useful applications. These apps can run virtually anywhere—on desktops, the web, smartphones, and tablets.

“ArcGIS helps you use spatial information to perform deep analysis, gain a greater understanding of your data, and make more informed decisions,” states Dangermond, one of the most influential people in the world of GIS. The professional desktop version of ArcGIS features hundreds of tools for performing spatial analysis, allowing users to turn data into actionable information and automate a number of GIS tasks. With support for more than 70 data formats, integration of different data types for visualization and analysis becomes a seamless task. The software includes a large library of symbols and predefined map templates giving users the ability to produce high-quality maps without the hassles associated with complex design software.

Our technology enables organizations to create responsible and sustainable solutions to problems at local and global scales

Some of the other features include, advanced editing, geocoding, map projections, advanced imagery and data sharing. Esri has built an intuitive user interface that is easily customizable by adding and removing buttons, menu items, or docking toolbars within ArcGIS. Furthermore, advanced users can develop their own custom GIS desktop applications with the ArcGIS Engine, which is available through the Esri Developer Network.

The flexibility of the ArcGIS platform is not something to be overlooked. “You can use ArcGIS Server and Portal on your local network, use ArcGIS Online, or both,” notes Dangermond. When using Online, users can use as little or as much as they need; it can be turned on and off at will. “Expand when necessary. Reduce risk and startup time. Start new projects rapidly,” he adds.

ArcGIS is an enterprise-ready platform that scales and integrates across an organization with ease. Companies can integrate with other enterprise technology, control security and access, and grow their system on a local network or in a hosted cloud environment. It also presents teams with the ability to manage and share massive volumes of geographic data, imagery, and Lidar with any number of users.

Discovering New Patterns

Esri Location Analytics brings the power of web analytics into the physical world. It merges the Esri platform’s prowess with existing business systems and makes it easy to geo-enable business data with intuitive mapping and analytical tools. “You will quickly discover new patterns and answers to any business challenge and effortlessly share your insights across the organization for greater collaboration,” points out Dangermond. Detail-rich graphs and charts provide an easy way to visualize data on a map and identify new patterns. “It’s easier than you think to enable mapping throughout the enterprise,” adds Dangermond.

Be it for the enterprise or the desktop, there is a scalable location analytics solution for every business need. Organizations can easily inject mapping and location into existing IT infrastructures like, Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint, IBM Cognos, SAP, or MicroStrategy, and enrich their views of the world. It combines maps with up-to-date demographics, consumer spending, lifestyle, and business data, all the while enabling users to slice, dice and recombine information to meet any opportunity and gain new insight.

The company also offers training and certification that makes teams perform better and be more productive. Additionally, its extended support and professional services deliver added value to customers. Extended support includes programs and packages that augment core support and training to offer the highest level of assistance possible. Its managed services provide scalable, reliable, secure, and economical options to host and maintain GIS applications and data.

Since its inception, Esri has empowered more than one million users in over 350,000 organizations representing government; NGOs; academia; and industries such as utilities, health care, transportation, telecommunications, homeland security, retail, and agriculture to be more productive; and its success stories are quite exhaustive. In one such instance, mapping aided mitigation and planning in Washington State. Landslides, triggered by large storm systems and earthquakes, can cause hundreds of millions of dollars of damage in Washington and as the state’s population has continued to grow, so has the pressure to build sophisticated GIS-based hazard maps. Initially the department adopted ArcIMS, Esri’s first Internet map server, to map data from the department’s databases and make it available through a website. Recently, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) migrated its interactive mapping from ArcIMS to ArcGIS for Server, which provides faster performance, and has developed a gallery of maps that make its resources readily available. Using ArcGIS for Server, DNR connected its basemap services to information from its landslide database so that anyone can see the landslide history and potential in any given area. “The landslide maps show which areas have been prone to collapse in the past so that local jurisdictions can draft their mitigation plans,” says Karen Meyers, an editor at the Geology and Earth Resources Division at DNR. “If they know a storm is coming, they can use these maps to focus their attention on areas known to be landslide prone.” This helps DNR issue more granular landslide alerts and be better prepared to deal with the problems when they occur. Moving from land to sea, tsunamis pose a real risk to coastal communities in Washington. An earthquake in the nearby subduction zone could generate a tsunami that would strike Washington with great force in a short time. DNR combines land-use and land-cover datasets with inundation mapping to assess what areas would receive the greatest impact from a tsunami.

Creating our Future

Inspired by the philosophy of Peter Drucker, a management consultant and educator, Dangermond’s rekindled visionary self says: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Our world is facing serious challenges, such as population growth, climate change, and energy use. At this time, “geography is more important than ever. It provides context and framework to understand and visualize our work. It integrates information, technology and people so we can work on challenging problems together,” he adds.

Dangermond sees GIS as so important to the future that he is inclined to say, “Creating a better future requires GIS professionals. They can envision what is possible; they can integrate, exploit and share these capabilities to solve challenges.” The company is also playing its part in the evolution of GIS, the changes we will see in Esri’s ArcGIS Pro desktop client in the next couple of months include, new analysis tools; new image-processing tools; and a slew of new data collections, some updated in real time and some offering historical views. Besides being loaded with all the bells and whistles, the program will feature new ways of allowing users to view and manipulate data, while adding platformwide support for 3D visualization. The application is powerful enough to render 2D and 3D simultaneously without a hiccup when users are navigating through the map. Its functionalities are extensive and Esri also has plans to add layers for streets, water and ground.


Redlands, CA

Jack Dangermond, President & Founder

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