Growing GIS Business in North Carolina

GeoDecisions’ business is growing throughout North Carolina, as we expand our footprint and enhance our Gannett Fleming engineering service offerings. Selected as a prequalified vendor to provide statewide GIS services contract, we can perform work for North Carolina state, local government, or quasi-governmental agencies, such as MPOs and universities, in the following areas:

  • Strategic planning
  • GIS data collection
  • GIS data management
  • GIS application development and implementation services
  • GIS consulting.

To support our Southeast initiatives, GeoDecisions Project Manager Caitlyn Meyer transferred to our Raleigh, North Carolina, office from our Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, headquarters in August. Caitlyn is strengthening Gannett Fleming and GeoDecisions GIS, planning, design, and construction operations as well as developing business relationships with North Carolina agencies.  Caitlyn's project portfolio includes our multiple award winning Maintenance-IQ application, which integrates data from more than 20 different systems into an easy-to-use data visualization and analysis web mapping tool. GIS applications such as Maintenance-IQ help streamline the NEPA process, maintain planning applications that support roadway projects, and feature mobile data collection apps to support asset management programs.  

In addition to Caitlyn, GeoDecisions Senior Project Manager, Kevin Yount, has relocated to the Charlotte, North Carolina, area. Kevin is working on the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation’s (PART) implementation of GeoDecisions Track, a web-based, configurable solution used to assist clients with asset tracking, reporting, and analytics.

To better meet its Federal Transit Administration and National Transit Database reporting requirements, PART requires a system that can provide real-time vehicle tracking and data management for its vanpool fleet. The GeoDecisions Track solution will allow PART to quickly create dashboard applications system users, providing them with readily available business data and analytical information.  The ability to configure these reports will prove valuable as standards change and user needs evolve.

“We're very excited to grow throughout North Carolina,” said Caitlyn. “Thanks in part to us relocated Yankees, the state’s population is booming, and is planned to grow 40 percent by 2040.” This growth will increase demands on the state’s infrastructure and the need for programs to keep pace.

2017 URISA Leadership Academy

Urban and Reginonal Information Systems Association (URISA®) is a nonprofit association of professionals using geographic information systems (GIS) and other information technologies to solve challenges at all levels of government. The URISA Leadership Academy (ULA) is an annual event that was held July 24-24, 2017, in Providence, Rhode Island. ULA is excellent for improving upon your leadership skills, and the conference was invaluable for providing the opportunity to network with professionals that work in the GIS industry. All conference presenters were URISA members who offered a wide range of GIS expertise from both private and public sectors, providing real-world situations and examples to better demonstrate topics that were taught during the course of the week.

The expectations of this year's ULA attendees. 

The academy provided several team building exercises each day, providing students with the opportunity to practice their leadership and communication skills. The first day of training started with a brainstorming exercise to share ULA expectations with fellow students and, most importantly, with the instructors so that they could make adjustments as needed. Receiving feedback after each training session enabled URISA instructors and members to improve the academy experience.

The ULA offered the following topics:

1.    Introduction to leadership and management – Leadership styles and situational leadership, managing yourself as a leader, motivations for GIS leaders, strategic thinking

2.   Building a team - Analyzing and using current human capacity, assessing needed skills, identifying and recruiting team members, building a competent team, utilizing diversity as a team strength

3.    Communication – How to effectively communicate, apply appropriate techniques for building communication strategies at the personal and professional levels

4.    Conflict resolution – Understanding source and levels of conflict, methods for resolving conflicts, applying appropriate methods for managing conflicts at the individual, group or organizational level

Other topics included retention, recognition, hiring considerations, effective capacity building strategies, risk management, strategic planning, situation analysis, and ethics.

During the ULA, it was great to share hurdles that we encounter on a daily basis and exchange ideas to resolve them with fellow GIS professionals. I am already using the skills and knowledge that I have obtained from this academy and plan to use it throughout my career in Project and GIS Management.

The 2017 URISA Leadership Academy attendees. 

GeoDecisions Notify On Campus

Weather alert? Emergency? Food truck in the parking lot? GeoDecisions Notify can help you alert the people in your building of an emergency or situation of interest. The GeoDecisions team has integrated Notify, GeoDecisions’ robust high-speed alert notification for delivering phone, email, or text messages, with the Esri® 3D Campus Viewer. Here’s how we did it!

Esri’s open source CampusViewerTools package includes the 3D Campus Viewer JavaScript web application written using the Esri JavaScript API. The application shows a 3D view of an office campus, and enables users to navigate through the campus, viewing the layout of each building, and more. The 3D Campus Viewer’s sample data set shows the Esri Redlands, CA, campus, and the package also has information to create your own custom building layouts and floors using CAD data.

Since the GeoDecisions Notify web application was created with compatible technologies, including JavaScript, Angular, and Bootstrap, it was easy to fold it in to the 3D Campus Viewer. With the component based approach becoming very popular in the front end world where each screen area in a single page application is a component, we decided that the first step was to create a widget area (component) within the 3D Campus Viewer app. This allowed the GeoDecisions Notify widget serve as a seamless part of the 3D Campus Viewer while keeping it loosely coupled. Advantages of this approach are listed below.

1.       When the 3D Campus Viewer code is updated, it is easier to merge the GeoDecisions Notify widget into the new version of codebase.

2.       When the GeoDecisions Notify widget code is updated, it is easier to pull in to the 3D Campus Viewer code.

3.       The same widget can be reused in other applications such as Esri’s Web AppBuilder or any other application that would need GeoDecisions Notify functionality. Maybe yours!

Users log in to the GeoDecisions Notify widget using their ArcGIS Online account credentials. In the 3D Campus Viewer, users select contacts in rooms on any given floor. They could also search and select rooms or contacts from the search menu. After selection, the contact info is pushed to the GeoDecisions Notify widget, and from that point onwards all user interaction and the campaign placement workflow happens inside the widget. The contact names to be notified are shown within the widget. The user then types in the SMS, email and/or Text-to-Speech voice messages they wish to transmit to the selected contacts. The notifications are sent to the selected contacts in the list after the Deliver Campaign button is pressed.

After users place campaigns from the GeoDecisions Notify widget, we use our Campaign Manager API to send the campaigns. Users can then track and view their campaign stats in our admin portal. The stats have information such as the status of the campaign (still in progress, completed), the list of contacts that were successfully contacted, how many voice calls went to voicemail vs a live answer, and more.

          Are you interested in using GeoDecisions Notify to alert people at your facility? We’d be happy to work with you to show you how! Learn more at geodecisions.com/notify or contact us at AppSuite@geodecisions.com.

 

A Team Approach With PennDOT Connects

State departments of transportation are no longer just held accountable for the transportation system, but for how the transportation network supports and improves the quality of life for communities. With this idea in mind, GeoDecisions has partnered with its parent company, Gannett Fleming, to help the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) evolve its PennDOT Connects project. Aimed at involving community stakeholders earlier in an infrastructure project’s lifecycle, PennDOT Connects improves planning and engineering collaboration throughout design and delivery. 

Gannett Fleming is helping to evolve the PennDOT Connects, including participation in its staff training component, Planning and Engineering 360, for PennDOT and regional planning organizations. GeoDecisions is redesigning PennDOT’s Linking Planning and NEPA (LPN) application for project proposals and environmental scoring. 

The PennDOT Connects initiative will provide a framework and process for outreach and cooperation between PennDOT districts, planning partners, and municipalities. Meeting with and gathering data from local project representatives to ensure that relevant factors are reviewed and included as part of the project planning process is at the heart of the program.

Expected to go live in January 2018, the new PennDOT Connects application also includes plans for a mobile piece. Using smartphones, tablets, or PDAs, onsite users will have the ability to collect information and meeting notes for study areas during PennDOT Connects outreach.

Esri UC 2017 Highlight: ArcGIS Hub and New Initiatives

This year’s Esri® User Conference in San Diego, CA was as intellectually stimulating as ever. While major product releases were not on the agenda, there were still significant enhancements announced for upcoming ArcGIS Platform and its constituent software releases. For those unable to attend this year’s conference, I have focused this blog post on one emerging solution set in particular: the ArcGIS Hub and Initiatives.

At A Glance

Esri continues to plan consistent ArcGIS Platform and ArcGIS Pro releases nearly every half-year for the next two years. These releases, including many that were presented during the Plenary, will provide incremental capability enrichment. They can be seen in the posted videos:

There was one evolving solution that really caught my attention -- ArcGIS Hub and its associated Initiatives pages. Jack Dangermond, president and CEO of Esri, spent a few minutes describing it, and there was a hurried highlight segment on these solutions during the Plenary. However, after speaking to other conference attendees, I’m not convinced the messaging and description of the power of ArcGIS Hub and Initiatives was adequate.

Diving a Little Deeper

Those of you paying attention last year may remember the significant attention given to the GeoHubs of Los Angeles, CA and Loudoun County, VA. The new solution called ArcGIS Hub formalizes the release of that encapsulated capability, wrapping it in more mature configuration and management workflows, and providing more functionality. The ArcGIS Hub (hub.arcgis.com) is an online, configurable, hosted platform that facilitates bidirectional engagement and collaboration between groups. It is primarily comprised of three components: Open Data + Communities + Initiatives.

An instance of ArcGIS Hub for a government agency may look and operate very differently than one for a non-profit, or an educational institution, but it still leverages Open Data as its foundation, fosters the formation of self-identifying communities of individuals, and is structured around policy initiatives. The newest and most critical aspect of ArcGIS Hubs are the Initiative pages that enable the Hub. The landing page of an organization’s ArcGIS Hub would include one or more Initiatives to explore.

Functionality and Capabilities

In terms of functionality, the user navigates through an Initiatives page much like a Cascade Story Map. It is important to remember, though, that an Initiative is not a substitute for, but a compliment to, a Story Map. The following is intended to provide a framework for understanding the types of Initiatives that organizations can develop. Initiatives are:

Themed – They represent one policy effort, such as increasing mass transit ridership, or decreasing urban food deserts.

Data Driven – They leverage spatial and non-spatial data presented in maps, charts, and graphs to tell their story, rather than being simply narrative.

Timeframe-based – They predicate on a measurable goal to be accomplished within a particular timeframe.

Logically Structured – They inform the community, then seek to listen to the community, and finally monitor progress.

Configurable – They allow non-developers to link to pre-existing ArcGIS solutions, map services, and apps (e.g., Survey 1,2,3 app), among others and configure the look and feel of the page and the widgets.

Some additional capabilities to note include:

•       Exploration and viewing of open data to add more value

•       Integration of interactive charts/graphs and maps from Open Data

•       Integration of Esri’s demographic data

•       Development of infographics to assist in story telling

•       Ability for Initiative managers to review spatial content and products that are generated by the community

•       Templates for jump-starting effort

If you are already using Open Data, you can build your own Initiatives. If you want to acquire licensing for the ArcGIS Hub solution and the ever-growing set of Initiative templates that accelerate your replication of Initiatives and assist your scaling effort, contact your Esri representative for more information. I hope this provided clarification on the ArcGIS Hub and Initiatives solution set.