Geospatial Business Spotlight: Systems Development Group (SDG)

Systems Development Group (SDG)  provides real property, imaging and GIS-centric software and professional services to government, education and private sector companies. The Company provides clients with the appropriate technologies to cost effectively improve tax payer services while reducing operational costs. Clients achieve operational efficiencies with SDG’s blend of expertise in assessment, imaging, GIS and software administration tools and professional services.  SDG currently collaborates with state, county and local government agencies.

Location:             44 Trenton Road, Utica, New York 13502.

Website:             www.sdgnys.com

Email:                   info@sdgnys.com

Phone:                 (315) 798-1328

Employees:        8

Established:       1991

Flagship Product: Image Mate Online (IMO) Real Property Web Portal

The New York State SDG IMO coverage area. Full County services are rendered in blue.  Individual City or Town services are denoted by pushpins.

Brief History

In the New York State Real Property System ( RPS V3) 1990’s era, NYS challenged SDG by noting it was technologically impossible to display photos during a live RPS V3 session.   SDG knew otherwise from similar projects performed for their parent company (Lanier Business Systems). Code being used to add imaging support to hospital applications was leveraged to build an initial application saving the Towns of Whitestown and New Hartford over $50,000 of previously ear-marked monies for Tyler-CLT Landisc street level imaging projects.

As SDG systems engineers and developers grew more familiar with assessment administration, opportunities arose to assist assessors with the development of line of business valuation software utilities including the Assessment Sales Analysis Program (ASAP)  search engine. A combination of these software tools contributed to the successful NYS Office of Real Property Tax Services (ORPTS)  RPSV4  launch.

RPSV4 was originally developed as a client server – “thick” desktop application. However, within a few short years, the internet and web application (browser) paradigm entered the software mainstream. The web quickly became a natural conduit to share real property information with the public and between Government departments and agencies. The next “organic” step forward for SDG was the development of a web portal for real property and assessment information – Image Mate Online (IMO).

IMO quickly gained popularity with NYS Counties and local municipalities throughout the early 2000’s. The State Real Property Tax Administration Technology Improvement Grant Program (RPTATIP) Grant program in 2006 and 2007 helped open the door for many additional County Real Property and Assessment Departments to deploy IMO portals. A large percentage of RPTATIP grant projects included IMO due largely to:

    • Return on Investment (ROI) – The City of Yonkers experienced a 70% reduction in Assessment Office foot and telephone traffic within their first year of IMO operations.
    • Extensibility – Ease of building upon the IMO portal to create “one stop shops” for comprehensive parcel related information.
    • Tight bindings with New York State Real Property and Assessment rules and best practices.
    • Strategic  partnerships, projects and connectivity with “best in class” players including Pictometry, Apex, ESRI, Google, VHB, TerraGo and Sewall
    • Performance and scalability – The Onondaga   IMO site performs over 2 million parcel searches a year. At 20% the size, nearby Seneca County – over 80,000 searches annually.
    • Outpost extends IMO and live RPS data collection services to the field as a low-cost tablet mobile sister service.
    • Continue reading

Jonathan Levy: Cartography Remixed

Jonathan Levy is yet another geospatial enthusiast I have made contact with via the burgeoning GeoNYC Meetup group. It’s a small world indeed as Jonathan and I share some common interests including music, sports, and time spent in one of my most favorite spaces: Idaho. His path down the cartographic road might be considered a bit different than the conventionally trained geospatial professional.  However, what is coming out the other end today is a wide range of interesting cartographic products and services.  Enough for an interesting dialog and blog post – including some interesting personal stuff on the side.  Enjoy.

Jonathan Levy grew up in the Durham and Chapel Hill areas of North Carolina spending lots of time running around in the outdoors.  His dad was a huge fan of National Geographic exposing Jonathan to both the beauty and vastness of the publication’s cartographic products and at the same time taking him camping and trail hiking around  in the Appalachian Mountains.  In his teens, he completed an Outward Bound course which introduced him to orienteering and using maps for navigation and survival.

After graduation from high school, Jonathan attended Brandeis University majoring in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies with a minor in Environmental Studies focusing on conservation biology and environmental politics.  After finishing his undergraduate work he traveled to Grenada, West Indies, to teach environmental/social science to children with Dr. Dessima Williams.   Afterwards, he worked for Polaroid’s Corporate Environmental Department in Boston, MA for nine months before heading to Salmon, Idaho as part of the Student Conservation Association working with the U.S. Forest Service in the Frank Church Wilderness Noxious Weed Inventory program.  It was here he was introduced to Global Positioning System (GPS) data collection concepts and GIS software to make maps of field guides of rare plant species in the wilderness area.

Completing his internship work in Idaho in 2002, Jonathan was  given a grant towards graduate study at at Hunter College in New York City in the MA program specializing in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)  and Media during which time he was able to intern at the United Nations and the New York City Office of Emergency Management.  He received his Masters from Hunter College in 2005.

Getting Started

His first job out of Hunter College was with the NY State Legislative Task Force for Demographic Reapportionment which Jonathan notes “was very GIS heavy and really interesting”.  At this point he began picking up freelance work on the graphics side of things with TED.com, Maps.com and Not For Tourists – the latter of which was has continued to be a successful long term contract.

Along the way he has continued to expand his use of the ESRI software particularly with regard to the spatial/network analyst extensions as well as becoming proficient in QGIS and Carto. Because he extends his cartographic product beyond the what is available with GIS software, Jonathan uses Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop for graphics processing, texturing and post production. For 3D renderings he uses Cinema 4D, After Effects, and Sketchfab.

Sample Cartographic Products

Lower Manhattan Buildings:

This 3D rendering of buildings in Lower Manhattan show the years in which they were built from 1700 to the present. The gradations of dark orange to light orange correspond to the newest to the oldest buildings. The data used to create this map came from NYC Open Data.

Environs Map Series:

This series is a way of sharing Jonathan’s life experiences of favorite places and spaces in his  life through map renderings and illustrations.  It is his personal experience of specific places and the personal “visions” of that space.  He gets requests to produce custom maps for friends, family and clients who want their town or neighborhood mapped in this style. He’s currently working on a Valentine’s day gift for a client who wants a map of Roncolo di Quattro Castella in this style.  These images are created using: Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, scanned textures and GIS data.

Jonathan notes: “I love seeing Long Island City from across the East River. The Pepsi and Long Island City signs are featured prominently although here I’ve replaced them with my sister and brother in law’s names in lieu of their recent marriage.”

Airbnb:

Jonathan notes this was a “fun” project. Using some fancy internal tools Airbnb developed, Jonathan helped map out neighborhood boundaries in 20+ cities across the U.S – including New York City.   It involved lots of research and involvement with city planners, residents and/or a combination thereof to get a feel for the individual city.

Sample of one NYC neighborhood maps – Chinatown – Jonathan researched and created for Airbnb helping users better define which areas and neighbors they are looking for lodging and accommodations.

Montauk 3D:

This was a personal project that was inspired by his time this past summer learning to surf in Montauk. He was struck by the interesting topography of the area. He took digital elevation model (DEM)  data, exaggerated the contours in Cinema 4D for effect, created custom topographic palettes and created a website that uses Sketchfab’s API to switch out textures on the 3D surface. Link to website: http://aws-website-montaukd-vr1zr.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com.  (Note:  Sketchfab recommends WebGL to display 3D content in real-time  which is a standard in most modern browsers.  Check your browser for compatibility at http://get.webgl.org/).

Amped Topography of Montauk: If you know the Montauk landscape and locations of specific geographic features (i.e., Lake Montauk and the Lighthouse – chances are you would find these renderings of the area very interesting – and different.

Loud Noise/Noise Complaints:

Jonathan also enjoys scrapping data from public web sites to develop maps and visuals.  While living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Jonathan created a Party/Loud Music Complaints map based on 311 data obtained from New York City’s Open Data Portal. These maps include and reflect his interest in rendering the “personality” of geospatial data through design choices – as illustrated in this map/web map – including a dark background, a purplish nighttime color palate and star animated Gifs.  Indeed an interesting map from a person who loves loud music and spends his spare time playing in a metal band!

Built with OpenStreetMap, this interactive map allows users to pan around Manhattan to see which NYC zip code has the largest number of noise complaints as filed through 311.

The Other Stuff

Jonathan always finds his legal mapping client work interesting as it requires mapping and data development to such a fine level of detail.  Often such work involves boundary disputes requiring the review of historical deeds and historic photogrammetry to determine boundary line changes. Looking forward he continues working with Sketchfab in context of mapping in the 3D space.  He supports Sketchfab because it is “accessible, light and has a community for sharing 3D models with annotation”.

As a one person shop, Jonathan does not have a large marketing and public relations budget and as such all of  his business development is  word-of-mouth.  He’s recently created an interactive presentation for a close friend and chef/owner Will Horowitz (Duck’s Eatery / Harry & Ida’s) which he presented at the Food on the Edge conference in Ireland. He’s working on an online platform, Common Scraps, which addresses the issue food waste.   As an extension he has produced some animated maps that show how food scraps can be saved and reused in an exchange system between local farms/suppliers and restaurants.

Jonathan covers a lot of ground and styles in his work which is more detailed and described on his website. Take a look, and if you are really lucky you might find him playing at a local club down the street with his band Autowreck.  Go check them out.

Though take some ear plugs and hold on.

Contact:  Jonathan Levy @ jl@jlcartography.com

 

Finger Lakes Trail Conference: The Reach of Digital Mapping

As a hiker myself, I first visited the Finger Lakes Trail Conference (FLTC) website in search of information about the trail system with little knowledge of the incredible structure the organization has in place for creating and publishing hardcopy and digital maps. Thus, the genesis of this article and an overview of how FLTC makes all of the digital content come together.

Background

Established in 1962, the Finger Lakes Trail Conference (FLTC) mission is to “… to build, protect, enhance, and promote a continuous footpath across New York State. Forever!”  With administrative offices near the Mt. Morris Dam Visitor Center in Mt. Morris, New York, FLTC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization which works in cooperation with its members and various organizations to develop and maintain the premier hiking trail system in New York.   The Finger Lakes Trail System includes the main Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) from the Pennsylvania-New York border in Allegany State Park to the Long Path in the Catskill Forest Preserve. The main FLT is 580 miles long. There are six branch trails and 29 loop trails and spur trails that extend from the main FLT. These branch, loop and spur trails currently total 412 miles. Including the Main Trail and all branch, loop, and side trails, the Finger Lakes Trail System offers 1,000 miles of hiking.    Today, more than 1,400 individual and family memberships currently support the FLTC  of which approximately one fourth actively volunteer to operate the organization and its programs.  The sale of maps and GPS track data help  build and maintain the trail system.

FLTC also recognizes Sponsors which are individuals or organizations which formally accept responsibility for maintaining a length of trail in the FLT System and Affiliates which are hiking clubs and Scout troops that operate their own local hiking program and sponsor (maintain) their section of the trail system. The FLTC is a Partner of the North Country Trail Association (NCTA) and cooperates with that organization and the National Park Service in maintaining and promoting that portion of the FLT that carries the North Country National Scenic Trail.  The FLTC is also a member of the Great Eastern Trail Association (GETA) and is constructing a branch trail of the FLT system (the Crystal Hills Trail) that will carry the New York portion of the Great Eastern Trail.

The Finger Lakes Trail System main trail from its eastern terminus in the Catskills to Allegany State Park in western New York State. From their interactive web application this image also show outlines of section maps which provide detail at larger scales.

Mapping and Cartography

Since the early 2000s with advancements in GPS technology and digital data collection, trail mapping responsibilities within the FLTC have been increasingly assigned to the Trail System Management program within the organization.   Within this structure, the mapping of new and/or changes to trails fall on the responsibilities of volunteers trained in use of  GPS devices – either their own Garmin device or an FLTC-owned Garmin Montana.  FLTC maintains  detailed specifications on what GPS devices are acceptable and how they are to be configured.  The GPX file from the walk is emailed to the mapping team which is currently under the direction of Greg Farnham and Jo Taylor).    Following a very detailed process document, the mapping team uses Garmin Basecamp to edit the official, unfiltered GPX track, which is referred to as the “trail centerline”.    There is adequate iteration with the person who walked the trail and the  Regional Trail Coordinator (RTC) overseeing that section of the trail where the data is being collected to ensure an accurate rendition of the (trail) data has been collected.  Regional Trail Coordinators and other FLTC administrative positions are highlighted on the organizational chart on their website. Continue reading

2017 GeoCon Wish List: Part 1

I first wanted to publish this article initially as a wish list to the GIS Santa Claus in early December, but the holidays came and went so I am now submitting it as a New Year’s wish list (Part 1) for the 2017 GeoCon  in Lake Placid.  There will  be other suggestions over the next several months and I’ll remain cognizant  what I wish for as I may be submitting an abstract to present myself.  Maybe.

So to start the discussion, here is an initial list of  ten geospatial mapping applications and program areas I’d like to send a speaker invite to for the 2017 GeoCon – and why.

NYS Office of the Attorney General:  New York Crime Gun Analysis https://targettrafficking.ag.ny.gov/tool/

While mapping continues to be one of the primary end products of GIS analysis, geospatial data is increasingly being used in a wide range of data visualization platforms such as Tableau.    I’d welcome the opportunity to attend a presentation by the Office of the Attorney on the Crime Gun Analysis report outlining data collection, data analysis, and the rendering of the data through maps, tables, and charts.  Not the normal GIS menu.

New York State Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) http://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/

In context of geospatial, this program reference isn’t so much about “what it is”, as opposed to more about “what it isn’t”.  Or at least I think.  From my level, the REDC framework has always been somewhat of a mystery since current state administration created the 10 Regional Councils in 2011.  And even more confusing that the geography of the REDCs do not coincide with the statewide Regional Planning Commission boundaries. That said, there is an incredible amount of geospatial information and analysis in the Council’s underlying mission.  Everything happens somewhere.  And there is a ton of money coming through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process which I believe the GIS community should be more engaged and recipients of to some degree. Uber opportunities for web mapping applications, Story Maps, and GIS-produced maps for publications though one would be hard pressed to see any real evidence of a professional GIS touch in any of the Council products and services.   I looked through four regional 2016 “progress” reports (Hudson Valley, Finger Lakes, Capital Region and Southern Tier and found very limited reference to GIS/geospatial technologies.   Some kind of presentation by one of the REDCs and/or regional GIS personnel involved in this program would be most informative for the statewide GIS community.  Otherwise I doubt we’re going to hear anything through the state GIS program office on this.

511NY
https://www.511ny.org/

This is more of a selfish request than anything because I really don’t fully understand the makings and how 511NY operates in context of GIS/geospatial data collection, sources, work flows, or even development of their applications including the online mapping stuff.  I do know it’s big, visible, seemingly growing in functionality, supported by a mess of New York State transportation agencies -even though it has its own .org web address.  It also creates a lot of data which would be useful to consume and use in local government web mapping applications.   I’d be the first one to sign up to hear how it all comes together, funding, sources of the data (including what is being taken from and/or generated at the local level), opportunities for collaboration with local GIS programs, and what’s next.  How long before we see an Uber icon on the 511NY homepage to help support trip planning?

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Deep GIS: Mapping What You Touch In the Subways

I’ve recently been communicating with Ebrahim Afshinnekoo who is Project Director for the PathoMap project based at the Weill Cornell Medicine Mason Laboratory in New York City.  Launched in the summer 2013, PathoMap was the first project of its kind, with the intent to comprehensively map and investigate the presence of bacteria and DNA on the surfaces of large urban, metropolitan environments such as New York City. And of course what better venue to collect bacteria samples in NYC than the subway system – the large subterranean behemoth home to 5.5 million riders on an average weekday.

I was drawn to the project in that it involves several common geospatial components the traditional GIS community is routinely involved with such as  data collection/data validation, data analysis, mobile apps, web mapping and visualization. To date, discussion on this geospatial research effort has focused mainly within the Cell Systems (scholarly journal) community, though with little exposure within the traditional NYS GIS community. While both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times published articles on PathoMap in 2015 we’ve seen little work of this nature at statewide conferences or how it can promote similar geospatial analysis across the Empire State. With this in mind, eSpatiallyNewYork initiated this blog entry with the purpose of exposing the PathoMap project, and its subsequent global expansion (MetaSUB) to the larger statewide GIS community.

Data Collection

The molecular profiling initiative launched in the summer of 2013 with the help of undergraduates from Cornell University and Macaulay Honors College – which were soon to be given the appropriate moniker “Swab Squad”.  To create a city-wide profile, the research team first built an Android/iOS  mobile application in collaboration with GIS Cloud to enable real-time entry and loading of sample metadata directly into a database (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Data collection from the project included the “swabbing” of sites and subsequent analysis and data entry of the findings into a mobile app which are dynamically uploaded to the Cloud GIS database. Source: Afshinnekoo et al., 2015

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10 Questions: Dr. James Mower

Dr. James Mower is a familiar face across the New York State GIS landscape.  Having started at SUNY Albany almost thirty years ago, he has mentored hundreds of geography and GIS students whom have gone on to work in a wide range of government and industry positions across the state.  Over the past two decades, Westchester County GIS has employed at least six of his students as full-time employees and numerous summer interns.  His teachings have contributed significantly to the continued development of the Westchester County GIS program.

eSpatiallynewyork:  You’ve been at SUNY Albany for a while now – how long?

Mower: I started in the fall of 1987.

eSpatiallynewyork:  Take us back to your  doctoral work. Your PhD came from the University of Buffalo– one of the early most recognized centers of GIS research in the United States – in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Who was your mentor at Buffalo?

Mower:  My mentor was David Mark who recently retired (from teaching, anyway). Dave was a great mentor—he let me run with some unusual but ultimately successful projects.

eSpatiallynewyork: What classes are you teaching these days? 

Mower:  I have focused more on programming courses recently. I have a 2-course Java programming sequence that has become a lot more interesting with the exploding interest in open source GIS. I’m retooling my courses to focus more on mapping libraries like the GeoTools package from OSGeo  (the program that also supervises GRASS, QGIS, GDAL, and other great tools). I also teach a Python course aimed at ArcGIS scripting (at least for now).

eSpatiallynewyork:  How has teaching GIS/geospatial at the university level changed over the last 5-10 years?

Mower:  The biggest changes are yet to come. Cartography and GIS are learning how to embrace mobile platforms with smaller screen space. Generalization issues in mapping have never been more important. Along with mobile mapping has also come global navigation satellite system position finding and its use in almost every cell phone app out there. Also, the coming revolution in autonomous vehicles will impact our field in many unforeseeable ways. Continue reading

10 Questions: Steve Romalewski

Steven Romalewski is currently director of the Mapping Service at the Center for Urban Research at The Graduate Center / CUNY.  During his 32-year career he has helped hundreds of nonprofit groups across the country leverage the power of GIS; helped develop more than two-dozen online mapping services analyzing environmental issues, social services, transit routing, demographic trends, voting behavior, and legislative representation.  He has also coordinated the work of community groups and others across New York to advocate for sensible environmental policies at the local, state, and federal levels.  For the past 10 years, he has taught students at Pratt Institute how to use GIS in their urban planning careers, and helped educate many others through presentations about the value of GIS.  He lives in Manhattan.

eSpatiallynewyork:  How did you end up in your current position at Center for Urban Research?  

Romalewski:  Before joining CUNY I ran the Community Mapping Assistance Project (CMAP) at NYPIRG for about eight years, providing mapping services to nonprofit organizations across the country.  (Before that I was an environmental researcher and advocate at NYPIRG.)  By 2004 or so, CMAP’s work had started to outgrow our advocacy-oriented parent organization. Internally we discussed options of spinning off CMAP as a social business venture, merging it with another organization, or launching it as its own nonprofit.

At the same time we were going through a strategic planning effort for the OASIS project, and one of the key findings was that OASIS would benefit from an institutional setting such as academia where the OASIS website would be able to leverage more stable technology resources and organizational support.

One of the academic programs we talked with was the Center for Urban Research (CUR) at the CUNY Graduate Center.  I had worked on projects over the years with CUR’s director John Mollenkopf, and he was a big fan of our work. It seemed like a great fit, and in January 2006  I moved to CUNY.

eSpatiallynewyork:  How do CUR projects come to be or developed?

Romalewski:  We’re fortunate to have a good amount of leeway in deciding on projects.  Generally CUR engages in applied research projects in the areas of neighborhood change, immigration, and urban development broadly speaking. Within those areas, we look for mapping projects where we can have an impact, where we can leverage CUR’s mapping skills and expertise in analyzing urban trends, and that come with funding support so we can cover staff time and related expenses.

We’re especially interested in working with our colleagues throughout CUNY, as well as within city government (since CUNY has a close relationship with New York City agencies), but we also take on projects with a wide array of partners.

If the project involves an online mapping component we try to structure it so we can incorporate the latest and greatest interactive web and mapping techniques and technologies. Continue reading

SAVI Builds a Metro NYC Presence

The last couple years I’ve been watching the growth of GeoNYC Meetup group and continue to be amazed at the far-reaching representation of individuals and companies now involved in the broad field we call “geospatial”.  One person shops, start-ups, open source/open data techies, apartment and loft based companies, strong business and private sector representation, community based mappers, and everything in-between.  A much different composition and representation than that of the other existing statewide geospatial/GIS communities and organizations that I and other colleagues of my GIS generation came through.   To date I have published three previous blog posts focusing on other contacts made through GeoNYC:  Mapzen, Mapillary and NiJel.

Spatial Analysis and Visualization Initiative (SAVI)

Also establishing a niche in the expanding geospatial space are community facing programs associated with and supported in academia environments.  One such program, which I was also introduced to through GeoNYC, is the  Spatial Analysis and Visualization Initiative (SAVI).  It was launched in 2013 and is at Pratt Institute.  SAVI is a GIS-based research lab and service center that focuses on mapping, data analysis, and visual storytelling, providing students, faculty, and community groups with the resources they need to communicate information in compelling ways. The first and only New York City college-based GIS lab open to community organizations and civic groups, SAVI offers computer access, technical assistance, professional training, workshops, and research that empower local organizations to create their own visions to improve the quality of life for their clients and constituents. At Pratt, SAVI supports students and faculty whose work reaches beyond the Institute’s campus to engage and benefit New York City.

Leading the SAVI program is Jessie Braden, who was appointed Director in the Fall of 2013.  Prior to SAVI, Braden spent three years at the Pratt Center for Community Development, a non-profit affiliated with Pratt Institute that provides technical services to community organizations.  She has also been an adjunct professor of GIS in Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Program since 2010.  Braden initially started SAVI with Pratt Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development (PSPD) Professor Juan Camilo Osorio as a volunteer side project in 2011 with the guidance of then Department Chair John Shapiro.  In addition to PSPD, Pratt Center and the Graduate Communications Design Department offered their official support, allowing the lab to come to fruition and solidifying SAVI’s focus on communities AND design.  Pratt Center also secured a $670,000 grant from NYC City Council to renovate a physical space on Pratt’s campus so SAVI can serve community organizations and students.  During the time the program was being institutionalized at Pratt, Osorio took a full-time position as Director of Research at the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. Though not involved in day to day operations, Osorio remains a trusted advisor to SAVI.

SAVI consolidates the Institute’s GIS resources with an eye to social benefit. This means putting data analysis in the hands of community activists, students, and faculty. It also means making the products of GIS expertise visually legible and compelling so that the stories they tell will have as much impact as possible.

“At the end of the day, visual representation is as important as the quality of data analysis,” Braden observes. “Our vision for SAVI is to produce outstanding multidisciplinary projects  with the highest-caliber visual display— making the invisible visible, both inside and outside Pratt’s gates.”  Its Jessie’s belief, which I share,  that a well designed map should be able to stand on its own.  Such a product enables the reader to conduct the “spatial analysis” based on the distribution and rendering of the map data itself – with only minimal accompanying narrative to explain or describe the map.

Braden points to specific mapping projects which exemplify the SAVI cause:
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NYS 2016 Geospatial Legislation: The Beat Goes On

Have been a little remiss in the blog content space of late and now trying to play catch up with a couple articles and stories in the works albeit nothing finalized.  With August typically being one of the slower months across the board, it’s always a good time to take a step back and see how the geospatial/GIS profession is growing across the state in context of making its presence known  or at least recognized and referenced in the legislative arena.   This year’s summary provides a little more fodder for discussion and content than in the past couple years – even to the point of dulling the urge to write in that very special way about one of my other favorite New York summertime geospatial topics:  The Geospatial Advisory Committee. The GAC.

State of the State

Always appropriate to start at the beginning of the year with the Governor’s State of the State “Built to Lead” themed speech (January 13th) which did offer some optimism – albeit indirectly – for investment and growth opportunities in geospatial technologies across the state.  Most notably with references in the areas of infrastructure development.  Even though many of the investments itemized in the speech are for major public facilities such as LaGuardia, the Jacob Javitz Center, and Penn Station – btw to the tune of $100 billion –  there is still room for enthusiasm in the GIS community hoping that even small portions of the $100 billion investment can trickle down to local government geospatial  programs to  support bridge and road management initiatives, public water/storm/sanitary systems rehabilitation projects, evolving resiliency projects, and many other infrastructure related efforts.  And best of all, providing funding opportunities for the many deserving GIS and civil engineering businesses which continue to support and help build statewide geospatial capacity. While it’s almost certain that the $100B funding is spread out over many appropriation bills, one can see the magnitude of the statewide infrastructure focus and priority by performing a keyword search on “infrastructure” in the New York State Bill Search form. Results? Fifty-seven bills match the search criteria.  Granted, not every bill is specific to geospatial & infrastructure – but it’s a damn good starting point for the statewide geospatial community.  And you can be well assured our brethren in the engineering, surveying, public works and aligned disciplines are already well engaged in tracking down the funding.  And btw, if you’re really interested and by comparison, do a similar search on keywords such as geospatial, mapping, geography, or GIS – and make note of the search results.  I’m by no means an expert in using the form, but by using it only casually, one can get a sense of the potential funding sources.

As in past State of State speech agendas, the governor makes reference to other should be GIS staple disciplines such as economic development (REDCs: Regional Economic Development Councils) and tourism – two very high level and visible government programs which the statewide GIS community has yet to make broad and sustaining inroads with.  Granted the current state administration’s REDC organizational chart is problematic in that these boundaries do not coincide with the existing NYS Association of Regional Councils boundaries, GIS-based economic development and tourism websites should continue to be a top priority for every county and/or regional planning commission across the state.

 2016 Bill Search

Certainly not an exhaustive list, but the following does provide a general flavor of the types of  geospatial/GIS-related bills which were either newly introduced or carried over from previous years.  Search results included:
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Geospatial Business Spotlight: Tyler Technologies

Company Name:  Tyler Technologies

Business Unit:    ERP & Schools Division, Transportation Solutions (formerly Versatrans)

Website:               www.tylertech.com

Established:        1966

THE COMPANY

Tyler Technologies, Inc., is a leading provider of end-to-end information management solutions and services for local governments. Tyler partners with clients to empower the public sector — cities, counties, schools and other government entities — to become more efficient, more accessible and more responsive to the needs of citizens. Its mission-critical applications provide the public sector with the ability to streamline and automate operations, resulting in improved productivity, reduced costs and continual process improvement. Tyler’s client base includes more than 14,000 local government offices in all 50 states, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and other international locations. Forbes has named Tyler one of “America’s Best Small Companies” eight times, and the company has been included six times on the Barron’s 400 Index, a measure of the most promising companies in America. Tyler provides a broad line of software products in seven main solution areas: appraisal and tax; courts and justice; ERP financial; planning, regulatory and maintenance; public safety; records and documents; and K-12 schools. Tyler has over 400 customers in the State of New York. Customers include large counties such as Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester as well as municipalities such as City of Buffalo, Rochester and Yonkers.

Versatrans started as a transportation planning consulting firm in 1965 and began developing software in 1980. For more than 35 years, Versatrans has developed the leading technology for school professionals to deliver the best service to their districts. In 2008, Versatrans became part of Tyler Technologies, which today employs more than 3,600 professionals. Since that time, the Versatrans® product line has been maintained and supported, and the number of development resources assigned to the product line have nearly doubled. Tyler’s transportation solutions are the software of choice among more than 1,600 school districts and pupil transportation service providers in the United States and Canada. In the State of New York, Tyler transportation solutions are used in over 280 school districts including large school districts such as Buffalo Public Schools, Williamsville Central School District and North Syracuse Central School District, but also in small school districts such as Fort Plain Central School District, Candor Central School District and Broadalbin-Perth Central School District.

PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Tyler’s transportation solutions are built to factor together district policies and student information with hazard restrictions and realistic bus speeds. This provides safe and accurate bus stop locations and optimal routes that save money. By geocoding with the latest GIS technology using county maps, and taking into account cross restrictions, hazard zones, predator locations and more, the software picks up students from their exact location and assigns them to the safest stop. The Tyler team is composed of industry transportation professionals such as former directors, trainers, routing experts and drivers which, combined with experienced software engineers, apply their expertise and latest technology to transportation solution products, implementation and support.

Tyler’s transportation solutions include Traversa®, the Versatrans suite and Tyler Drive™.

Traversa

Traversa is Tyler’s integrated, comprehensive transportation management system. Traditionally, transportation software has been offered piecemeal, with different interfaces, different data sources and different requirements for training and installation. Traversa offers a seamless user experience for:

  • Bus routing
  • Activity trips
  • Work order tracking
  • Fleet maintenance
  • Automated vehicle location (AVL)/GPS tracking

In addition to the areas mentioned above, Traversa’s core functionality includes entity management (students, vehicles, employees, etc.), messaging and alerts, planning and reporting. Traversa is a cloud-based service supported by Tyler experts and hosted in Tyler’s SSAE16-certified data center. Tyler’s GIS services department converts a client’s data and helps verify client maps. Tyler’s transportation team provides training and data security and – when needed – disaster recovery.

 

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Traversa Dashboard allows school district transportation personnel to see a comprehensive view of everything they need for routing, planning and fleet maintenance.

Traversa’s technology stack incorporates portions of ESRI’s mapping software and can also interface with third-party data providers to show real-time traffic conditions, construction projects, city planning, evacuation routes, weather and more. A user can select a bus stop and zoom in to inspect the streetscape for possible safety issues. Traversa even helps a user respond to change. If a bridge washes out, he or she can quickly find an alternate path and print the new directions for drivers to use.

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Traversa Routing allows a school transportation router to build daily runs, assign students to stops, generate driver directions, assign vehicles/drivers and more.

Traversa AVL brings all vehicles to one screen for the dispatcher to monitor them in real-time. Users can filter for a specific vehicle, date or time and follow the path of that vehicle. They can also assign geofences for alerts and much more.

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Traversa AVL allows users to view current and historical data related to the location, speed, and direction (N, E, S, W) of the entire fleet of GPS equipped vehicles.

To learn more about Traversa, follow this product overview video.

Tyler Drive

Tyler Drive is an innovative, mobile device designed for the school bus driver.  Mounted on the school bus console, Tyler Drive’s 4G service and cloud-based software closes the gaps in school bus transportation.  It stems the losses caused by outdated timekeeping software and substitute drivers navigating unfamiliar routes. Tyler Drive keeps school buses on course and generates the documentation for reporting and reimbursement.

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Tyler Drive Dashboard presents drivers with a comprehensive view of everything they need for their shift.

Through integration with Tyler’s student transportation routing and planning solutions, Tyler Drive is able to provide the most comprehensive and reliable route navigation available. Tyler Drive navigation map highlights the planned route with detailed directions to the next stop. If a road is closed, Tyler Drive can redirect the bus to the planned stop. Driver is presented with turn-by-turn directions and a list of students to pick up or drop off as the bus approaches a stop. If the school bus goes off the planned route Tyler Drive re-routes through the shortest path to the next stop in sequence.

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Tyler Drive live navigation assist the bus driver in getting to all the planned stops, picking up students and dropping them off.

Versatrans Suite

Versatrans is a complete school transportation software suite designed to help school districts efficiently and cost-effectively manage day-to-day transportation needs, transporting students to and from their educational programs on time and on budget.

  • Routing & Planning is a multi-user transportation management system that can effectively handle multiple destinations within the District’s demographics.
  • Versatrans Onscreen® is a GPS fleet tracking solution.
  • Versatrans My Stop™ is a mobile application for parents, guardians and students to know exactly where their bus is and what time it will show up at their stop — all from a smartphone or similar mobile device.
  • Versatrans Fleetvision® is a maintenance software to manage district fleet. It can auto-generate work orders, track inventory and organize employee certifications.
  • Versatrans Triptracker® is web-based field trip software, automates otherwise cumbersome processes like driver selection and personnel approval.
  • Tyler Telematic GPS™ is a hardware solution for school buses providing a complete view of vehicle, driver and engine. Tyler Telematic GPS includes: software expandability, driver scorecard, accident reporting, engine data, real-time alerting and more.

Implementation Services

Tyler’s implementation services include training on software functionality and full map preparation, including entering all district schools with grades, other buildings, walk zones, safe zones, bus stops, bell times and more. Tyler gives many options to keep customer maps current, and when the product receives electronic updates from the original map source, functionality is not affected. Tyler’s maps have the ability to utilize GPS information, draw streets simply and accurately, modify street names, and adjust run times to factors like time of day and school bus speeds. The process is automated to provide both efficiency and safety.

Geotab GPS

Tyler has a long standing relationship with Geotab Inc.; the leader in telematic solutions for heavy-duty vehicles. Tyler has been an authorized reseller for the Geotab hardware since 2010 and its close partnership with Geotab over the years has led to Tyler having the distinction as the only partner to have integrated Geotab data within the K-12 marketplace.

Esri Gold Partner

Tyler is an Esri Gold Tier partner, which enabled Tyler to be an industry-leading provider of geospatial solutions and services. As a Gold Tier partner, Esri recognizes Tyler’s commitment to providing enhanced technical and sales support, collaborative engagement and a national and multinational focus. Multiple Tyler solutions use Esri technology, including suites in school transportation, appraisal and tax, planning, permitting and public safety. Tyler has been an Esri partner for more than a decade.  Tyler’s new K-12 transportation solution, Traversa, is based on Esri technology.

 To find more about Tyler Technologies and their office in Latham, New York, visit their website.

CONTACT

Ted Thien
Sr. Vice President and General Manager, Versatrans
Tyler Technologies, Inc.
23 British American Blvd
Latham, New York 12110
Phone: 800.433.5530 ext. 131840
Email: ted.thien@tylertech.com