Recap – Smart Cities Connect 2018

Published April 16, 2018 by Steve Mulberry

Smart Cities Connect is both a conference and expo held twice a year. This year GISinc attended for the first time in Kansas City, with three goals in mind:

  1. The first was to spend time with the 400+ city leaders from around the world that attend and listen to their discussions and conversations regarding their smart city initiatives, data driven activities, and the technology that helps them achieve their goals for a smarter way to do business and support its citizens.
  2. Second, we attended the conference to support our friends receiving awards; Marietta, GA received the Mobility Award for its TravelSafely Application and Cary, NC received a Network Award for turning Cary into a  Simulated Smart City.
  3. Third, we attended the conference to showcase the work we are doing in the GeoIoT space supporting innovations for communities. Learn more about our GeoIoT Platform here.

Some thoughts around what I heard from the conference:

First, I think it’s important to define what this term “Smart City” is or should be. Some would say it’s all about the technology, not so fast. In short, a Smart City is a city that collects many different types of data that allows its practitioners and citizens to make better or “Smart” decisions. Yes, this data can be collected from modern sensor technology or IoT “Internet of Things” which provides more timely access to the data. But, it’s the data that is used to better equip a city for responding to challenges. In essence a Smart City is a Data Driven City with the right technology to be proactive rather than reactive.

As we know technology is only a part of the solution that can improve efficiencies and help make smarter decisions and we typically look at technology first within your business systems to achieve this efficiency, especially around citizen engagement. One thing that is apparent from listening to the numerous panel discussions is that digital literacy is a challenge that communities face. Having a clear outreach program that not only educates its citizens but also provides access to the digital world they live in is critical for adoption. I’m beginning to realize that to achieve digital literacy you need to start out with an analog discussion. Technology with updated processes will greatly impact your Smart City initiatives.

Smart Cities are sexy on the surface, but a lot of hard work and cooperation is needed behind the scenes to make this possible. Use these 3 guidelines to help when looking at new technology for supporting your Smart City initiative.

  • Imperative to prototype, prove out the right technology for the right job. If you don’t like the word ‘prototype’ use something else but take small bites.
  • Prototypes cost dollars, don’t’ be afraid to spend some money. Not a lot but make that commitment.
  • Build off of common challenges across cities, look at what others are doing
  • Identify a problem and move forward to answer that problem
  • Identify individuals who will and can champion the process
  • Leverage your existing investment or build upon the GIS technology you already have

In closing it’s important that you no longer look at Smart Cities as a project but look at it as a program. Projects are short-lived, and most times lose funding. Programs are long-lived and are incorporated into the budgets. Overall, I give the Smart Cities Conference a “B”, why not an “A”. Well it was interesting hearing about the challenges from the leadership of these communities, but I noticed very little attendance from those professionals responsible for making it work. I wonder how the message will get translated back to these folks from their management that did attend?



Esri Southwest User Conference 2018

Published April 10, 2018 by Shannon Prather

GISinc will be attending this year’s Esri Southwest User Conference April 10-12, 2018 in Denver, CO.

During the conference, GISinc’s Steve Mulberry will be presenting on GeoIoT for Smart Communities and Cost Map for Water Utilities. See the complete Esri Southwest Conference agenda here.

Tuesday, April 10 at 3:00 p.m. on GeoIoT for Smart Communities

Geospatial IoT (GeoIoT) is emerging as a standard for organizations to enhance citizen engagement, maximize revenues, while reducing costs and energy consumption. Esri and GISinc have partnered to provide an opportunity to educate organizations on how upgrading their existing platform to ArcGIS Enterprise 10.5 (and beyond) and coupling it with GeoIoT solutions through a series regional GeoIoT seminars. This presentation will provide more awareness on how organizations can implement innovative GeoIoT solutions through location based technology for asset tracking, analytics, and wayfinding.

Wednesday, April 11 at 1:30 p.m. on GISinc’s Cost Map for Water Utilities

The Cost Map application enables customers to integrate with Esri technology with best practice construction costing.  For the first time ever, RSMeans Data (North America’s leading source of construction cost information) is available in Esri’s ArcGIS platform through GISinc’s Cost Map. Cost Map is a web-based solution that integrates RSMeans Data API from Gordian with the ArcGIS Platform from Esri to deliver a quick and reliable construction cost estimation process through hosted content, services and costing information.

Can’t attend the presentation, but want to learn more about Cost Map? Request a Free Trial of Cost Map for Water Utilities today!

GISinc Receives Innovating Solutions with New Capabilities Award from Esri for Creating Innovative Solutions Leveraging the Latest Capabilities of the ArcGIS Platform.

Published April 4, 2018 by Shannon Prather

Geographic Information Services, Inc. (GISinc), a premier GIS services firm, receives award for Innovating Solutions with New Capabilities from Esri at the 2018 Esri Partner Conference. The award specifically highlights GISinc’s ability to create innovative solutions leveraging the ArcGIS Platform.

“It is truly an honor, as a Platinum Partner, to accept this award; especially as it pertains to innovating the capabilities of ArcGIS. Every day we seek to create customer solutions that will help answer organizational problems, provide business insights, and create true value which will propel business forward. At GISinc we pride ourselves in putting our clients first and understanding how the ArcGIS Platform can provide unique innovative solutions to solve real world problems. Creating these innovative solutions is what we do on a daily basis.” Brad Epker, Chief Revenue Officer

GISinc has created solutions that save organizations time and money, while increasing efficiencies and business insights. Our Dead Meter Insights solution identifies dead meters for Water Utilities saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

Developing partnerships, as with Gordian, enables our product Cost Map to be powered by their RSMeans data to take construction cost data and place it on a map to instantly provide construction quotes while modifying specifications in real-time.

The GeoIoT™ Platform takes IoT and combines it with location-based solutions to drive efficiency, greater insights, and customer engagement.

About GISinc

GISinc with more than 27 years in GIS, is an employee-owned company located in Birmingham, Alabama, with offices throughout the United States. GISinc has a passion for delivering customer driven location technology solutions to federal, state and local, and commercial organizations. For more information, please visit, or call (205) 941-0442.

ARCHIBUS Nexus 2018

Published April 4, 2018 by Shannon Prather

Pete Erickson will represent GISinc at the ARCHIBUS Nexus 2018 April 8-11 in Boston, MA.

Originating in Boston, the ARCHIBUS Nexus Conference allows industry leaders from around the world to discover innovations shaping the future of real estate, infrastructure, and facilities management.

Pete Erickson will be accepting meetings at the show to demo GISinc’s GeoIoT platform that specifically helps facilities management leaders in areas such as asset tracking, wayfinding, and analytics. See how GISinc can help your organization – Schedule a meeting with Pete today.

Smart Cities Connect 2018

Published March 27, 2018 by Shannon Prather

GISinc will be attending the Smart Cities Connect Conference March 27-28,2018 in Kansas City, MO.

  • Stop by and see us in booth 528!
  • See how GISinc combines the power of location and IoT to create smart communities.
  • Get a hold of our new case study, featuring one of Smart Cities Connect’s featured cities!

Esri DevSummit 2018 Recap

Published March 20, 2018 by Steve Mulberry

It was good to get back to the Esri DevSummit this year. This is by far my top conference to attend. It’s a conference for developers, put on by developers, so why do I attend? It’s a chance for me to reengage with the technical community at Esri and get one-on-one time with product managers and lead developers across the ArcGIS Platform–not to mention it’s in sunny Palm Springs.

With the release of ArcGIS 10.6 at the beginning of the year, the DevSummit brought continued discussion around the power of ArcGIS as a complete enterprise class platform for Web, Mobile and Desktop GIS. We saw some nice enhancements to ArcGIS Online and the JS API:

  • Arcade
  • Smart Mapping
  • Feature Views
  • Clustering
  • Client-side processes through the geometry engine & projection engine
  • 3D Scene on the phone (faster and more responsive)
  • Point cloud scene layer, 3D area measure in real-time
  • Elevated labeling, elevation profile
  • WebGL coming at 4.6 through dynamic feature tiles

A new term being tossed around was “Progressive” Web Design. This term was actually coined by Google for “app-like” and I guess Progressive is the new Responsive in Web Design. Esri is baking this into the development experience which begins with the Web GIS Pattern where the Web Map and Scene are the focal points. Check out the new look for developers at

One of the more exciting announcements for me was to hear that the ArcGIS Online will begin to support IoT (Internet of Things) starting in early 2019. This is an area that Esri has been working on for a while now and fully supports this technology currently from an Enterprise standpoint through GeoEvent Server and the Spatiotemporal Big Data Store and will continue to support and make great strides this year with 10.6.1 and 10.7, but look for more information on what’s now being called “ArcGIS for IoT” coming out later this year on Esri’s IoT site. Basically, those who wish to provision the tools necessary to connect, analysis and visualize the connected world of IoT will be able to do that right from their ArcGIS Online Organizational account. From small implementations of hundreds of connections per second to very large implementations of millions of connections per second. This will open the door to many organizations who are on the cups of leveraging IoT. If you’re not aware, Esri has a very compelling platform for supporting IoT technology and we at GISinc have found great strides in this area. Learn more about GeoIoT here.

If you’re like me you’ve taken advantage of the Operations Dashboard, look for a new release coming in April with enhancements around:

  • Apply actions on charts (filter based on time windows drawn on the chart)
  • Search tool for the map using the World Locator or feature search capability by asset
  • New (EC) Embedded Content element based on a URL
  • Map will have a new layer action type to apply actions between features in the map and elements on the dashboard, like clicking a video camera on the map will show the live feed in the EC element.
  • Gauge enhancements: only show values on the features selected on the map, and ability to apply guide lines
  • Subscribe Content is added to allow for premium content within a dashboard without the need for public login

In summary, the Dev-Summit proved to be very insightful with what Esri is doing now and with future release of the ArcGIS Platform. If you missed the Dev-Summit this year you can always review the Plenary online.

And don’t forget our advice for first timers and daily recaps:

Esri DevSummit 2018 – Day 3 Recap

Published March 9, 2018 by Shannon Prather

Esri’s 2018 DevSummit wraps up today, and GISinc’s team has had a blast.

Day 3 Spotlight on Buzzwords: Watch on Vimeo

Day 3 Spotlight- Annual Dev Summit Dodge ball & Party: Watch on Vimeo

Full Day Review by Tony Urquidi:

With Google Chrome marking all HTTP sites as ‘not secure’ beginning this July, ArcGIS Enterprise security was a hot topic. There were multiple sessions discussing best practices for securing your ArcGIS Enterprise. A common theme between them was utilizing HTTPS for all communication. A couple of ‘gotchas’ were presented to show issues users typically run into and how to easily resolve them. The great thing is security is a first-class citizen in Portal. All changes that need to be made can be made in the UI, there is no need to go through the backend and update JSON configurations.

ESRI has had multiple ways to automate the deployment of ArcGIS Enterprise with their ArcGIS Enterprise Builder, for a single machine deployment, and Chef cookbooks for ArcGIS, which requires a client/server infrastructure but allows for a multi-machine deployment. ESRI just introduced PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) for ArcGIS. It allows for a multi-machine ArcGIS Enterprise deployment without the need to have a client/service infrastructure, as long as your servers are running Windows. Automating your deployments provides repeatability and consistency across your development, staging, and production environments. The configuration file for your automation tool is your system of record. No more questions about what is where and what are the passwords. Its all in your configuration file. Need to update the environment to the newest version for ArcGIS Enterprise, update a couple of lines in your configuration file and run it!

GeoEvent server is getting major updates. A new deployment option at 10.6 is the ability to run a multi-machine GeoEvent server site, which wasn’t the case in previous versions. This not only provides for more throughput on the your GeoEvent server site, but also provides resiliency to your site. Upcoming features include: a web adaptor to access the GeoEvent Manager on a well-known port, feature services will become more tolerant of failures, and being able to automatically backup your GeoEvent configuration to your Amazon S3. In conjunction with GeoEvent updates, the SpatioTemporal Big Data store is also getting updates. You’ll soon be able to import and export data from your big data store. Data will no longer be inaccessible in a black box. Further down the road, ESRI is looking to provide GeoEvent functionality in ArcGIS Online as a separate application, IoT for ArcGIS.

Another interesting topic discussed was using SQL to analyze your GIS data. Best practices were given so you don’t corrupt any data since using SQL bypasses any checks that ESRI ArcGIS applications do. Not only can you update and edit data, you could also use SQL to spatially analyze data. No need to extract data out to analyze it, you can do it on SQL Server.

Day 2 Closing Thoughts: 

Did you miss our Esri DevSummit Day 1 Recap or Day 2’s Recap? Check them out.

Check back next week for a comprehensive review of this year’s Esri DevSummit!


Esri DevSummit 2018 – Day 2 Recap

Published March 8, 2018 by Shannon Prather

Esri’s 2018 DevSummit is still going strong and GISinc’s team is learning a ton. See the Day 2 video blog review of Jupyter Notebooks + ArcGIS API for Python by Bill Rose, Day 2 Video blog review of Web AppBuilder by Mat Dvorachek, and Danielle Pugh’s full Day 2 recap.

Bill’s Day 2 Spotlight on Jupyter Notebooks + ArcGIS API for Python: Watch on Vimeo

Mat Dvorachek’s Spotlight on Web AppBuilder:
Watch it on Vimeo

Full Day Review by Danielle Pugh: 

Before today I would not have thought that JFK and a mobile app centered on Autistic children had much in common, now I know better. During the Keynote, I discovered the common connection: both were examples of Microsoft AI products… who knew? (Hint: Not me!)

Helpicto tugged at our heartstrings by showcasing how Microsoft Cognitive Services REST APIs and Microsoft Azure tools could be leveraged to develop a life changing mobile application for parents/caregivers of children on the Autism Spectrum.  Deceptively simple looking, the app translates spoken word into easily identifiable pictograms for children. It was a definite game-changer for bridging the daily communication struggles that arise for this group. The app can be downloaded from the Apple Store or Google Play.

The JFK Files demo, on the other hand, was less life changing and more X Files. Another cognitive learning product, the JFK Files site provided the average Joe a one-stop shop for searching various media related to the assassination of JFK. The OCR capabilities were pretty mind blowing on handwriting samples AND the ability of the OCR to read text from images that could then be translated as a caption for said image. If perusing all things Grassy Knoll is up your alley, then definitely try out You won’t be letdown.

Screenshot of a search performed on the JFK Files:

On to the technical sessions….

The Web AppBuilder sessions didn’t offer any “OMG I must have this now moments,” but there were some interesting tidbits thrown out. As briefly mentioned during the Plenary, 2D Web AppBuilder (WAB) apps are still running 3x while the cooler, younger brother 3D WAB is at 4x. During Q & A in my sessions, I discovered that 2D is making the leap to 4x by the end of the year. Because of this, it may be possible to add 2, yes, I really wrote 2, map components to the WAB Dashboard theme!!!!! It would be great if that really happens so I am definitely keeping my fingers crossed that it becomes a reality as it is easily my favorite WAB theme these days.

A few other tidbits concerning WAB:

  • Theme Builder is on the roadmap. What does this mean? Greater ease in developing custom themes using a repeatable, pain free process.
  • Esri plans to do WAB updates every 2 months!!
  • Don’t ever count on loading custom widgets in the ArcGIS Online version of WAB…it was vehemently shot down as something that will happen only when hell has frozen over ☹

Are you a fan of Operations Dashboard? If so, be on the lookout next month for Chart selections to drive how other widgets serve up content. Soon-ish (hopefully very, very soon) an iFrame widget will be rolled out – the days of having to use the Rich Text widget to pull in external content will be a thing of the past, how awesome.

Story Maps and Insights are getting some improvements soon-ish as well. Look for the story map tour template to drop the carousel and instead focus on a large image panel flanked by 2 smaller sections- the map and narrative text components. The map component is getting a major improvement in the way of nicer location pins that really pop. An optional title page also makes it way in the mix for this template.  For Insights look for the following improvements in June/July for the 2.4 release that even Jack hasn’t been told about:

  • Personal Edition (Stand-Alone Version)
  • Homepage
  • Public Sharing (Online Version)
  • Connect to Cloud DBs (Online Version)

Day 2 Closing Thoughts: 

Did you miss our Esri DevSummit Day 1 Recap? Check it out. And it’s not too late to learn a thing or two from our GISinc Advice for DevSummit First Timers article.

Check back tomorrow for a Day 3 recap from the GISinc team!


Esri DevSummit 2018 – Day 1 Recap

Published March 7, 2018 by Shannon Prather

Esri’s 2018 DevSummit is in full swing and GISinc’s team is having a ball, literally. See the Day 1 video blog recaps from Stephen Rhea and Jason Kretzer:

Stephen’s Day 1 Part 1: Watch on Vimeo

Jason’s Day 1 Part 2: Watch on Vimeo

Full Day Review by Kelly Bigley:

  • The 2018 ESRI Developer Summit kicked off today with an impressive Plenary Session showcasing the latest improvements for developers throughout the ArcGIS Platform. These improvements fit into one of three categories: Web Mapping, Analytics, and the Developer Experience.
  • Web Mapping with the JavaScript API is continuing to mature in the visualization and 3D space with WebGL rendering, clustering, 3D smart mapping, 3D on mobile browsers, and 3D edge rendering. Client side work improves performance with WebGL rendering, client side queries, and the client side projection engine.
  • Analytics power increases with Insights features (such as displaying multiple shape fields in a single dataset and storing insights workflows into a model). ArcGIS Pro features density clusters, cluster ellipses, and cluster membership probability. Model Builder in Pro features R Script for statistical modeling. R studio integrates Arc “Data Science” with Pro. ArcPy shines with Python Notebooks with Jupyter and demonstrates the power of machine learning and deep learning with image recognition.
  • ESRI has focused on improving the Developer Experience. A new Developer landing page features samples, success stories, dev labs, and keyboard shortcuts. Improvements to the ability to extend and automate the Enterprise are mostly around the power of Python. Now developers can debug python toolboxes in Visual Studio 2017, encrypt python toolboxes for deployment, and develop Python Notebooks with Jupyter. Native mobile development features continue to incorporate more layer types including the ability to read and write shapefiles on disk.
  • While there isn’t a particularly large “wow” factor this year, what is evident is that we are entering a maturation phase of a large suite of particularly impressive technologies. Perhaps this year will be the year our clients are ready for 3D.

Day 1 Closing Thoughts: 

First time to the Esri DevSummit? Don’t miss our other post: GISinc Advice for DevSummit First Timers

Check back tomorrow for a Day 2 recap from the GISinc team!




GISinc Advice for DevSummit First Timers

Published March 2, 2018 by Shannon Prather

Esri’s 2018 Developers Summit is less than a week away. We asked our veteran attendees what their advice would be for anyone attending for the first time. Here’s what our team said:

Get your mind right:

  • Have an idea of what you want to learn: List out 2-3 questions that you want to know the answer to after leaving the session to help you focus. – Christopher Blinn, MS, GISP, Senior Solutions Engineer
  • DO NOT WORK AT ALL!  DO NOT THINK ABOUT WORK – This is hard, but super important. –  Stephanie Lindley, PMP, Technical Architect
  • Don’t kill yourself with sessions, take time to talk with a SME from Esri and others in the industry. – Christopher Blinn, MS, GISP, Senior Solutions Engineer

Get your schedule right:

  • Always have a Plan B for sessions in case they fill up. – Christopher Blinn, MS, GISP, Senior Solutions Engineer
  • Review who from your team goes to which session so you can get good coverage. – Stephanie Lindley, PMP, Technical Architect
  • Plan ahead. – There is more stuff to see and learn than you have time for, so prioritize your interests. – Kevin Bupp, SCJP, Sr Geospatial Developer
  • Know how much time you have to get from place to place and how far it is between each event. Factor those details into your schedule ahead of time so you can fully enjoy the present while you are there. – Kevin Bupp, SCJP, Sr Geospatial Developer

Have some fun: 

  • Don’t miss the dodgeball tournament and party. It is a social event unlike any I’ve ever seen: Beer, foosball, dodgeball, laser tag, beer, jousting, arcade games, music, beer, food, cake, cookies, beer. – Kelly Bigley, Senior Geospatial Developer
  • Play dodgeball! – Tim Johnson, Senior Geospatial Developer
  • Hiking: Palm Springs Museum Trail is easily accessible by walking from downtown and the strenuous hike rewards you with spectacular views of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley.  – Kelly Bigley, Senior Geospatial Developer
  • Views minus the hike: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway takes you up the San Jacinto Mountain for even better views and possibly even an opportunity to play in the snow. – Kelly Bigley, Senior Geospatial Developer

Eat well, strategically:

  • Traveling in a group? Get to lunch early to grab a table – Kelly Bigley, Senior Geospatial Developer
  • Don’t eat a big lunch – Avoid the afternoon slump. – Christopher Blinn, MS, GISP, Senior Solutions Engineer
  • If you do nothing else while in PS, go to Tyler’s Burgers for lunch. It will change your life. Get there early! . – Chad Cooper, Solutions Engineer

And don’t forget: 

  • Pack your sunglasses and do NOT skip out on the free sunscreen! – Kelly Bigley, Senior Geospatial Developer
  • Most importantly: Have fun! – Christopher Blinn, MS, GISP, Senior Solutions Engineer