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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NYS Local Government GIS Common Core: Part 1

At the 2015 NYGeoCon in Albany, I presented a paper focusing on several GIS applications which often support and justify GIS/geospatial development at the local level.  I refer to these applications and program areas as the “GIS Common Core” and it was my intent to use the presentation as a starting point to expand the discussion further as part of this blog.

While some of the GIS Common Core program areas are not new to the discussion, several factors have contributed to elevating these day-to-day GIS functional areas to the mainstay of local government geospatial efforts.  Though these factors and opportunities vary greatly across the state, some of the more obvious reasons why “GIS Common Core” applications are becoming the foundation of local government programs include:

  • Improved large-scale spatial data integration across key business applications (assessment-inspections-permitting-public safety-utilities)
  • Better address standardization as a result of E911 implementation
  • Significant improvements on the integration between GIS and AutoCAD technologies
  • Establishing capacity to fulfill ongoing/permanent regulatory and reporting requirements (MS4)
  • Broad deployment of software programs in which using/collecting/maintaining X,Y data is implicit and available by default; GIS/geospatial is often no longer considered an “optional” feature
  • Leveraging flexible, easy-to-use browser-based applications which are accessible in a wide range of environments, particularly in the growing government mobile work force.  A work force which expects maps anywhere anytime.
GIS Common Core application areas in local government

“GIS Common Core” application areas in New York State local governments

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Geospatial Business Spotlight: Mohawk Valley GIS

Company Name:                Mohawk Valley GIS

Website:                               www.mohawkvalleygis.com

Established:                          2003

THE COMPANY

Linda Rockwood founded Mohawk Valley GIS in 2003, after her family relocated to Herkimer County, New York.   Previously, she owned North Country Technology Integration in New Hampshire, working primarily with school teachers to integrate technology and particularly GPS and GIS into the K-12 curriculum.

Initially, Linda had planned to continue offering the same type of services in New York, but found more opportunities early on providing GIS system development, data creation and training to municipalities, and designing custom print maps for organizations.

Mohawk Valley GIS moved to historic Bagg’s Square in downtown Utica in 2014 and has grown to include three full-time staff in addition to Linda, who continues to keep her GIS skills current along with coordinating all business development associated with the firm.    Interns from nearby SUNY Polytechnic Institute  and Syracuse University help when everyone starts bouncing off the walls.  The business received NY Women Business Enterprise (WBE) certification in 2013.

PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

The company has expanded to offer a complete suite of technology services including custom interactive online maps and mobile applications to help promote tourism and recreation, as well as to helping businesses, organizations and local governments towards updating websites to be mobile responsive.

By example, GoCaz.com is an interactive web map promoting four season recreation opportunities throughout the Cazenovia area in the Finger Lakes Region.  This particular project is an example of an adaptive, rather than a responsive, mobile application.  The software checks to see what device is accessing the map, then adapts by “offering” the correct version, either large screen or small device screen, as shown below.

The GoCaz website is device independent - enabling users to access the application from different platforms.

The GoCaz website is device independent – enabling users to access the application from different platforms. The browser version screen is on the left and smartphone version on the right.

Mohawk Valley GIS has also been running two promotional, recreation e-commerce sites for the past six years: the winter-oriented NY Snowmobile Trails  and the summer-oriented ADK Trail Map.   The Snowmobile Map application features an interactive map with a route planner, no-reception-needed trail apps with turn-by-turn navigation, and GPS map offerings including Garmin .img file format overlay maps and regional .GPX track files and waypoints.  The application was built in partnership with over 100 snowmobile clubs throughout New York State and was just awarded a NYS GIS Association Applications Award at NYGeoCon 2015.  Many similar functions are available in the ADK Trail Map.  Both projects feature responsive interactive maps, which respond to the device screen size by repositioning elements or eliminating some functionality.

n addition to a massive catalog of snowmobile trails, the application provides access to information on lodging, restaurants, and related travel services

In addition to containing a massive catalog of statewide snowmobile trails, the application also provides access to information on lodging, restaurants, and related travel services.

The route planner and turn-by-turn navigation functionality are built using a pathfinding algorithm which required converting the shapefile representation of the trails to a graph data structure. All geospatial application code in the web map is programmed using Leaflet, an Open Source javascript library.

Core Mohawk Valley GIS services  include GPS data collection, geocoding and digitizing, custom map creation, GIS implementation and training, and GIS data analysis, particularly with regard to big data analysis for predictive analytics and visualization.

Other recent or currently underway Mohawk Valley GIS projects include:

  • Municipality mobile app for Town of Webb/Old Forge, reception required, runs on all mobile devices/browsers, designed primarily for codes enforcement department
  • Municipality mobile app for Warren County, no reception needed, for first responders, focusing on building and structure characteristics
  • Custom paper map design for Vermont Association of Snow Travelers
  • Responsive website for the Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce
  • A unique (at clients request) website, American Electrical Enterprises, which uses a high tech data and chart visualization library
  • Three “big data analysis projects”, all under Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA), which include  strong geospatial components related to predictive analytics, marketing, and real time data interpretation

To find out more about Mohawk Valley GIS geospatial services and products, visit their website.

CONTACT

Linda Rockwood, Owner

linda@mohawkvalleygis.com

114 Genesee Street, 3rd floor

Utica, NY  13502

315-624-9545

www.mohawkvalleygis.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NextGen NYS Geospatial: Expanding the Profession

Based on the support of many long standing contributors, vendors, and returning individuals, the NYGeoCon 2013 meeting in Saratoga Springs, November 12-13, was considered a success.  Looking forward to future conferences and similar outreach efforts within the state, many could argue there is much optimism within the professional geospatial community – particularly with the NYS GIS Association at the helm – for continued growth and presence of the GIS profession across the Empire State.   However, unless new members are recruited from professions which are currently not part of the “staple” of the Association membership (government/public agencies, software companies, photogrammetry, academia, and civil engineering disciplines), such optimism may be tempered based a combination of recent industry and business reports, metrics, and employment trends.   Consider the following:

Government Job Growth Weakest:  A December 2013 Governing Magazine article notes that while private employment may finally be ready to accelerate, “state and local government job growth continues to be among the weakest of any industry”.  Translation:   Much of the future geospatial development – most likely at all levels of government in the Empire State – will increasingly be vendor/contractor based. While it is anticipated that existing government GIS programs in the Empire State will find a means to continue on some level, current government budgets and tax cap spending limits, suggest that new or expanding government geospatial programs will occur at a decreasing rate.    And few in government administrative or management level GIS positions across the state would probably be unable to argue otherwise. 

Minimal Technology Sector Growth:    A recent Praxis Strategy Group market report entitled “The Surprising Cities Creating the Most Tech Jobs” offers current statistics on employment trends in industries normally associated with technology, such as software, engineering and computer programming services. The article also presents numbers of workers in other industries which are classified as being in STEM occupations (science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related jobs).   Though the study considers only MetroNYC – and not the entire state – the findings are still somewhat troubling as the NYC ranked 36th on the national scale – only slightly ahead of metro Buffalo (43rd) and Rochester (45th).  Since 2001, New York City’s tech industry growth has been a paltry 6% while the number of STEM related jobs has fallen 4%.  The chances of New York City – or others parts of the state for that matter – of becoming a major tech center are handicapped not only by high costs and taxes, but a distinct lack of engineering talent. On a per capita basis, the New York area ranks 78th out of the nation’s 85 largest metro areas, with a miniscule 6.1 engineers per 1,000 workers, one seventh the concentration in California’s Silicon Valley. (Buffalo and Rochester statistics in this regard may be better though were not available as part of the article).

Shared Services Still Struggles:  For a technology which presents incredible opportunities for public organizations to share computing infrastructure, replicate (or share) identical mapping applications, cost-share on similar geospatial data development projects, or jointly exploit new Cloud-based programs – Information Technology (IT) shared services – and by extension GIS – have yet to be broadly implemented across the Empire State.  An August 2013 report prepared by the Cornell University found that while Shared Services programs in areas such as transportation, public safety, and recreation/social services continue to show promise, only eight-percent (8%) of the nearly 946 New York State government agencies surveyed in the study were engaged in Shared Services IT projects.

Growth Outside the GIS Mainstream:  An illustrative series of 2013 global market study reports by TechNavio forecasts steady GIS growth in disciplines which currently do not have a significant presence in many statewide conferences and programs or the NYS GIS Association.  Largely outside of government, and certainly not normally considered “tech jobs”,  these key industries  include banking and financial services, real estate, retail,  telecommunications, and utilities – all of which have significant corporate presence in the Empire State.  Many of these same industries were also identified as “GIS growth sectors” – including banking, insurance, law enforcement, business, healthcare, and finance – as part of a Geospatial Job Market panel discussion at the 2012 Association of American Geographers annual meeting.

Long term sustainability of the GIS profession in the Empire State requires the continued expansion and recruitment of industries which to date, have not had a strong visible presence in statewide GIS programs and activities.    Such opportunities exist by engaging these disciplines –  health care, retail, real estate, insurance and banking, and telecommunications, to name a few –  in local and regional GIS events,  NYS GIS Association professional development programs, or conversely, by attending and participating in industry trade shows and annual conferences held here in New York State (i.e., National Retail Federation,  NYC Real Estate Expo,  Annual NYS Commercial Real Estate Conference, NYS Association of Health Care Providers, and NY Bankers Association as well as many others).

Long term growth and influence of the NYS Geospatial profession should be considered extremely promising though will need to be based on a broader mix of disciplines and practitioners.