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…

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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Merging Geospatial Technology Stacks: Building Hybrid Systems

Posted on June 16, 2015 in Presentations

Michael Terner‘s presentation on today’s leading geospatial technologies makes the case for hybrid (best of breed) approaches, and provides examples, including work for the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), our own MapGeo, which itself is undergoing a hybrid evolution, and Google Imagery.

This slide deck was presented at the May 2015 Utah Geographic Information Council (UGIC) and GeCo West conference held at the Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort.

Michael Terner’s UGIC 2015 Presentation on Hybrid Systems

Breaking up is hard to do…The story of how AppGeo left the Esri BP Program and what it means for our industry and customers

Posted on September 10, 2014 in Thinking

By Michael Terner (@mt_AppGeo), Executive Vice President

Through the lens of having three kids who have been in high school, I’ve heard about “getting dumped by text message” and how that can complicate and deepen the confusion of what is an inherently difficult situation. Well, earlier this year our company went through the business equivalent of such a break up.

In May, after almost 20 years as an Esri Business Partner we were informed that Esri would like to “let our formal partnership retire.” We weren’t informed by text message, but rather we first heard the news from one of our big city customers who apparently was told by Esri before we were. About a week later, on May 12, we received a formal letter from Esri signed by our “Manager of the Regional Partner Team”. Our Regional Manager for the Northeast and Jack Dangermond were CC’ed. The “Manager of the Regional Partner Team”, who we’ve known for over a decade, gave us another name to contact “if you have any questions.” So as of June 25th, 2014, we were out of the club.

But, as with high school romance, sometimes break-ups are necessary, and while they can hurt, they can also lead to new growth and opportunity. Three months after receiving the news I think our team has processed the “message” and has some perspective on what happened as well as a really optimistic outlook on AppGeo’s future. Ultimately, while we’ve broken up, we do want to “remain friends” which Esri also relayed in their letter to us. Indeed, upon reflection, we think this episode says a lot about where our company and our industry are heading, and we believe others may be interested in our assessment.

We weren’t surprised

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Applied Geographics Develops Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool for the Western Governors’ Association

Posted on December 13, 2013 in News

We are proud to announce we recently partnered with the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) to develop and implement the West-wide Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT) for 16 states.

The online mapping tool was unveiled yesterday during a press conference at the WGA Winter Meeting in Las Vegas attended by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and governors from the 16 states.

The CHAT is a cooperative effort to provide public leaders, private citizens and industry decision-makers a high-level overview of crucial habitats across the West. Crucial habitats are places that are likely to provide the natural resources important to aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, including species of concern, as well as hunting and fishing species.

AppGeo was selected by the WGA to design, develop, and host the application. The design process was collaborative, and the resulting application is robust, intuitive, and extensible. To meet the high design, performance, and scalability requirements, the application was developed using a hybrid of geospatial technologies, including Boundless (formerly OpenGeo, a leading provider of enterprise-grade, open source geospatial software), Esri, and Google. AppGeo was assisted by GreenInfo Network in designing the CHAT site.

The CHAT helps users in the pre-planning of energy corridors and transmission routes, or in comparing fish and wildlife habitat, by establishing a common starting point across the West for the intersection of development and wildlife. The tool is designed to enable industry to reduce time, costs, conflicts and surprises – and inform conservation groups – while helping state agencies ensure wildlife values are better incorporated into land use decision-making.

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