Reflections on 25th Anniversaries in 2016… What was it about 1991?

Posted on January 3, 2017 in Thinking

The end of the year is often about both reflection and prognostication, and as we head into 2017 I’m a little stuck on the reflection side. In 2016 AppGeo celebrated its 25th anniversary, and as the sole member of the team who’s been at the company for all 25 years, I’m proud of the business accomplishments and also astonished by how much our geospatial industry has changed and evolved in a quarter century.

And, in the same way that someone will mention a new song (or movie, or book) that you’ve never heard of, and then once you hear about it you realize that it’s been all around you, my ears have been particularly attuned to other 25th anniversaries this past year. And indeed, AppGeo was not the only geo organization that was celebrating this milestone. And in talking to a couple of people involved in other 25th anniversaries, I don’t think it was accidental that AppGeo and others got started in 1991.

My first encounter with “another twenty-fiver” was when I attended the 25th Anniversary Utah Geographic Information Council (UGIC) annual conference in Bryce Canyon, UT in May. While there, I also realized that the state geospatial office – which has a classic “early days of geo” name of the Automated Geographic Reference Center (AGRC) – was also celebrating the 25th anniversary of their State Geographic Information Database (SGID).

My second encounter with an organization that started in 1991 was the year-long celebration of the National States Geographic Information Council’s (NSGIC) 25th birthday. Since 1991, NSGIC has provided a forum and amplifier for statewide geospatial program offices to meet, compare notes and to advocate for geo initiatives, while also collectively tackling the common challenges that span states.

During my trip to Bryce Canyon, Bert Granberg and I were musing on these anniversaries. Bert is the current Director of the AGRC and someone who has been active in NSGIC for over a decade and is – as of October – the current President of NSGIC. And over beverages we concluded that it was not entirely random that AppGeo, the SGID and NSGIC share a birth-year. Indeed, there was a confluence of at least three important and self reinforcing factors that came together that year.

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Find Your Spirit of Innovation on GIS Day

Posted on November 14, 2016 in Thinking

Why do we celebrate GIS Day?  One reason is to show pride in our profession and to promote it to others, which are both worthwhile endeavors. But as a term, GIS is not modern, and is somewhat limited in scope. It was coined by Roger Tomlinson in 1968, which was the same year that the “Harvard Lab for Computer Graphics” added “and Spatial Analysis” to its name.   The computer graphics industry spawned several technology leaders in early GIS, most notably, Intergraph (founded in 1969), who became the market leader in the 1970s and 80s. During the 1990s, the mantle of market leader shifted to Esri (also founded in 1969) – times change, as do market leaders.

The term GIS was adopted by vendors and academics alike during these early decades of the industry.  It was applied to map data and technology that needed a label to differentiate it from other types of data and technology, including computer graphics.  It became a banner under which a fledgling profession could rally and grow, along with the market.  An entire industry grew-up and matured under this label, and the biggest “GIS rally” for many years has been the ESRI User Conference, at which as many as 15,000 people now gather. Based on its success in what became a global market, the almost 50 year-old Esri is often considered synonymous with GIS, as other players came and went on a playing field that the market leader was able to define for everyone — until now.  Today, “GIS” is a label that does not adequately describe what many of us who have grown-up in this industry actually do, nor the data and technology that we often use to solve problems for today’s customers, which now includes many robust open source components as well as proprietary products.  Other blog posts have mentioned Geospatial/IT as an alternative term that is more modern in its genesis than GIS, which emerged when “MIS” was a common term – but how often is MIS used these days to describe information dashboards and analytical tools for the C-Suite and the rest of the enterprise? continue_reading…

Picked up pieces from the Global 2016 FOSS4G Conference in Bonn, Germany

Posted on September 9, 2016 in Thinking


Note: Here in Boston, we are privileged to have some of the greatest sports writing in the country on the pages of the Boston Globe. Once again, this blog is modeled after and is in homage to Dan Shaughnessy’s (@Dan_Shaughnessy) “Picked Up Pieces While…” columns…

  • After 30 years in the geospatial business and after numerous international visits to North American places (yeah, Canada and Mexico) this was officially my first business trip to Europe. This trip was catalyzed due to my role in leading the local organizing committee (LOC) that will lead the that will be held next August in Boston. Quite literally, I and the co-chair of the conference (Guido Stein, @GuidoS), went to observe and learn from the proceedings and to bring the “Torch” back to Boston.

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Looking Back at 2015 and Looking Ahead to Our 25th Anniversary Year

Posted on December 22, 2015 in Thinking

The arrival of colder weather and the winter holidays bring thoughts of the New Year ahead. It also reminds us to take stock of the year about to end, and to remember the many clients and partners that we have had the privilege to work with these last twelve months. We count these among the highlights from the past year:

  • New partnerships with CartoDB and Safe Software
  • Continued growth in our relationship with Google
  • New releases of our own MapGeo and GPV solutions
  • Development of a WMS/WTFS Imagery Appliance for serving Google Imagery that is currently serving statewide imagery for Texas and Utah state governments
  • Growing our national footprint with expansion of our staff presence in Texas, and the addition of new staff in Nevada and California
  • Signature projects from coast to coast that apply our geospatial skills to transportation, environment, emergency management, municipal, county and state government, federal agencies, and increasingly to commercial customers.

On a more personal level, 2015 included a notable milestone, the retirement of one of our original founders, David Weaver. David was a key cog in the AppGeo machine for 24 years and a friendly and positive presence that we know many of you experienced directly. We miss him but wish him well in his retirement. David will continue to serve on our Board of Directors. Looking ahead, 2016 marks AppGeo’s 25th anniversary! What an amazing ride it has been, growing from three people with an idea in 1991 into a mature business with offices, people and customers across the country. Our recipe for success has remained the same through this quarter century:

  • A true love and passion for the geospatial arena
  • A commitment to our customers’ success
  • A dedication to innovation and new ideas within an ever-changing technological landscape

As this year closes, we could not be more excited for what’s ahead. We see nothing but continued opportunity and growth for AppGeo, our partners and our clients. We look forward to doing great things together in 2016.

Picked up pieces after attending the CartoDB Partner Conference…

Posted on December 15, 2015 in Thinking

By Michael Terner, Executive Vice President, who attended the Partner Conference along with Mike Wiley and Jim Scott.

Note: Here in Boston, we are privileged to have some of the greatest sports writing in the country on the pages of the Boston Globe. For the second time, this blog is being written in the style of, and in homage to both Dan Shaughnessy’s (@Dan_Shaughnessy) “Picked Up Pieces While…” columns, and Bob Ryan’s (@GlobeBobRyan) “Emptying Out the Desk Drawer of the Sports Mind…” columns.

Given CartoDB’s origins in Madrid, Spain it should not have been a surprise, but I wasn’t expecting the partner conference – which was held last Thursday and Friday at their new headquarters in Brooklyn, NY – to be such an international affair. Suffice to say that the partners showed up from around the world with a heavy contingent from Europe that almost matched the USA attendees.

The attendees also included representatives of some of the bigger names from technology and consulting such as IBM, Bloomberg and the Boston Consulting Group; accompanied by other new geo technology startups such as Fulcrum and Planet Labs. It was also clear that several other of the partners were driven to CartoDB in the aftermath of Google’s deprecation of Google Maps Engine (GME). AppGeo is a Google Maps partner and in addition to ourselves we saw several other successful Google partners such as Onix, Wabion (Austria), NT Concepts and Woolpert. Clearly, GME customers’ loss has been CartoDB’s gain.

CartoDB’s recent .

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Crowdsourcing New York City’s High Speed Broadband Data While Building A Broadband Marketplace

Posted on October 29, 2015 in Thinking

When it’s time for your high tech business to move to a New York City address, one thing you’ll need is a high speed Internet connection. Looking at websites of available properties won’t help you learn which buildings have that service, but the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s (NYCEDC) New York City Broadband Map will.

The map-based application envisioned by NYCEDC is both an information portal and a marketplace for broadband services. The first version went live in December of 2013, and AppGeo and NYCEDC have been collaborating ever since to study and improve it, incorporating crowdsourcing and a new mapping platform along the way. This is the story of how vision became reality.

Step One: Gather Data From the State, City and Internet Service Providers

NYCEDC partnered with AppGeo in 2013 to build the application and the first order of business was data. NYCEDC and AppGeo tapped the NYC Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications (DoITT) and the City’s Open Data Portal for its building footprint data to provide information at that level of detail. NYCEDC was happy to use Google Maps for roads and other features as it provided a familiar, detailed view of the city as well as a well-known user interface. NYC programs WiredNYC and ConnectNYC, and the New York State Broadband Map also contributed data.

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Three Benefits from a Small Investment in ROI Calculation

Posted on September 18, 2015 in Thinking

No matter how work is done today, there’s room for improvement. In today’s workplace that improvement is likely to be a technology change. It might be new software, hardware or a new way to organize data. Deciding what kind of change will help most is one challenge. Convincing executives to believe in and fund the change may be even more difficult.

While organizational leadership may champion technology and even have successful projects behind them, each potential investment requires due scrutiny. Executives will only invest in one project over a second option if they have significant confidence in its success. A small investment in a return on investment (ROI) study may be the key to exploring, and ultimately funding and implementing, meaningful technology changes.

From our experience, the benefit of ROI studies is both quantitative and qualitative. AppGeo work in Vermont illustrates three types of benefits.

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Why We Built MapGeo

Posted on September 8, 2015 in Thinking

When you were a student it’s likely your parents and instructors reminded or scolded you to “Pay attention!” They believed that keeping an eye on what’s going on around you is valuable both for learning content and for getting ahead in life. At AppGeo we work hard to pay attention to our clients needs, to technology changes and new software and application licensing and delivery options. These were all part of bringing MapGeo (AppGeo’s hosted local government mapping solution), and now MapGeo 2.0, to market. Other related posts include what’s new in MapGeo 2.0, and a description of the uses and benefits of MapGeo.

Our Clients are the Driving Force behind MapGeo

AppGeo has served local and regional governments for more than 20 years. Our consulting and programming staff listened to customer requests and probed their needs, resulting in dozens of well received custom GIS websites. All that experience revealed some common needs. So, we started a list. Our local government customers needed:

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How MapGeo Delivers Value for Cities and Counties

Posted on September 7, 2015 in Thinking

AppGeo created MapGeo (AppGeo’s hosted local government mapping solution, first launched in 2011) to help city and county governments better use and share their geospatial and property data. Now in its second release, MapGeo is putting more data, tools and answers to questions into the hands of local government leaders, staff, businesses and citizens. Below we describe how MapGeo aligns with the expectations of today’s consumers of map-based information. Other related posts include a description of what’s new in MapGeo, and a look back on our motivation for creating MapGeo.

Beyond the Basics

Nearly everyone involved in government, both insiders and constituents, is sold on the need for accurate data, transparency and accountability. These same people are also sold on the value of maps in visualizing those data, sharing information and making decisions. But today’s challenges go beyond just creating and sharing maps. Municipal leaders and those who work for them demand quick access to a wide variety of data and new ways to view, measure and share project outcomes. Citizens are more savvy; they want quick answers to their questions and assurances their concerns are received and addressed.

The maturation of local government mapping systems revolves around performance based management. Municipal leaders and constituents are pushing maps to address performance questions:

  • Are we taking the right actions?
  • Are we effectively communicating what we are doing?
  • Are we meeting our goals in a timely manner?

For example, city leaders might set a goal of improving response to citizen service requests. Maps showing the status of service requests built off the latest data would help leaders determine if the selected strategies were working, help citizens follow progress and provide regular reports on meeting goals. A time series map could show exactly how the status changed weekly, monthly or across the year.

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Takeaways from the 2015 Esri UC – A Senior GIS Consultant’s Point of View

Posted on August 6, 2015 in Thinking

Andy Buck, Senior Consultant, Takeaways from the 2015 Esri User Conference

AppGeo’s staff participation in the Esri User Conference (Esri UC) dates back to 1991 when it was an intimate show in Palm Springs. This year, AppGeo sent two staffers, Project Manager David Breeding and Senior Consultant Andy Buck, to the 2015 Esri international User Conference in San Diego. Attending the Esri UC is a part of our commitment to our customers to stay up to date on all of the technologies that can help address their needs. We offer Andy’s reflections in this post.

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