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.


GeoDecisions Celebrates Dave Gilbert's 30-Year Odyssey

GeoDecisions Celebrates Dave Gilbert's 30-Year Odyssey

Dave Gilbert, GISP, the third employee ever hired here at GeoDecisions, marks 30 years with us in 2017. That's a really big deal. As our longest standing employee, Dave has built lifelong trusted-adviser client relationships, lasting GeoDecisions friendships, and made an indelible impact throughout the water, transportation, and facility business lines of our parent company, Gannett Fleming.

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Our Next Generation of Geographers

Our Next Generation of Geographers

Growing up, I had a big interest in maps. I would draw maps, look at road atlases, and pore over gas station road maps. I also would spend hours looking at my grandparents’ globe from the 1950’s and a Rand McNally World Atlas. When it came time to go to college, I thought there were only two paths - engineering/science or business. I wasn’t the best at math, so I chose to pursue the business route. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I realized geography was an option. I remember sitting in an excruciatingly boring economics class and found myself looking at a plastic relief map on the wall and daydreaming. Later that day, I told my mom I had made a big decision- I was going to switch my major to geography. I was met with silence. After a few seconds, she replied “What kind of job are you going to get with that degree?  All you can do is teach!”

They call geography the “the ultimate discovery major”…  I now know why.

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