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How Mobile GIS is Revolutionising Forest Inventories

Protecting the hills, regulating streams, providing habitat for fauna, and producing that little thing called oxygen are all on a forest’s to-do list.

It’s tough being a forest and these jobs are just the tip of the iceberg, so how can we help them out and ensure they thrive?

Comprehensive forest management and sustainability largely depends on the quantity and quality of information available. This information or data is obtained from forest inventories.

Recent advancements in technology have already begun to improve the accuracy and efficiency of forest inventories, with the impact of emerging geospatial technologies still being realised.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are location-based tools that aid in the collection, analysis and visualisation of accurate data. Visualising this kind of tree data enables key stakeholders in the forestry industry to make informed decisions.

Forest managers, regional planners, arborists and conservation biologists need forest data to create actionable intelligence on the health and state of the trees.

With drastic developments in mobile phones over recent years, data collection, field mapping and mobile GIS have meant creating forest inventories has never been easier.

Below are several features some mobile mapping GIS and data collection tools have that can help revolutionise forest inventories.

Offline GPS Tracking

Offline GPS tracking is perfect for recording the exact movements of field workers. The offline component enables the device to be used in any remote location without internet access.

Mappt™ is a mobile GIS and data collection app, built for field workers that need to create, edit, store and share geospatial data. Mappt’s offline GPS calculates distances, helps workers to find targeted areas faster and provides evidence of the ground that has been covered. The offline GPS tool can be switched on and will work in the background while you get on with the rest of your data collection.

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Drop Down Forms and Points, Lines and Polygons

The digital revolution is in full swing and the need for paper is diminishing. Environmental workers now have the power to use devices such as tablets or even phones to easily take notes on specific points, draw lines and view this all this information visually on a digital map.

Mappt enables users to create detailed descriptions in customisable ‘drop down’ forms. Field workers can enter detailed or simple options on aspects such as tree diameter, height, observations, conditions, eco-zones, political or property boundaries, species, population, and any other characteristics.

Once these forms are created, the user simply selects the correct answer from the list as opposed to typing it in each time. These forms save time, reduces repetition and can cut down human error.
Mappt splitting tool

Geofencing

When conducting a forest inventory, serious consideration of boundaries and borders is needed to ensure data is accurately represented in each respective area. Mappt has a ‘geofencing’ tool which allows users to mark out areas that field workers should not disturb, such as wildlife habitats, heritage land or sensitive sites. It can also be used to simply mark out the area you should be working in to assess a specific rehabilitation zone.

If a boundary is breached, an alarm will sound and an alert will display to stop workers in their tracks. Mappt will also log the event according to date, time and distance.

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Geotagged Photos and Map Annotation

Mappt enables field workers to take geotagged photos using the device the app is running on. This photo is then saved and geotagged on the map to the exact spot it was taken in.

Users then have the option to annotate the photo in-app for further data clarification. Using a pen tool, filed workers can draw on an image to (for example) circle areas of unfamiliarity or highlight where a sample was taken from. Users can also add shapes and text to the map itself both in satellite view and street view to highlight physical characteristics of the forest or draw attention to damaged forest areas.

Mappt annotations

 

The Future is Mobile

Mobile phones, tablets and handheld devices now have the capability of full sized desktop computers. Bolting a GIS onto your mobile device makes them an invaluable and powerful tool for undertaking forest inventories or any other kind of field work and data collection.

Due to the sudden advances in these technologies, many businesses operating within environmental and forestry industries are falling behind as they’re not realizing the potential savings these technologies can provide. Time is money and without the use of applications such as Mappt, the forestry industry is at risk of becoming an inflated production.

GIS field data collection software make creating forest inventories fast, smooth and simple. Some of Mappt’s other features include; importing and exporting various kinds of geospatial data; thematic mapping; cached Google Maps; and WMS and WFS feed capabilities.

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Ssiobhan-profile2iobhan Herne
Marketing and Communications

Siobhan has no background in GIS, she’s a beginner, just like you. Follow her stories for an easier digest of all things geospatial.

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3 GIS Tools that are Transforming Environmental Field Work

Every year, billions of dollars are invested into industrial projects that can have damaging effects on our environment. It is therefore critical to monitor and understand the effects of human impact on the environment.

Current technologies have not only improved our knowledge and understanding of the environment, but also significantly enhanced the way we collect and capture this information.

In previous years, physical environmental evaluation and surveys were carried out by workers in the field, armed with paper, pencils, large flimsy maps and inaccurate location perceptions.

Today we need just one compact device to navigate, capture and visualise data during environmental field data collection. When combined with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), mobile data collection apps provide a simple yet multifaceted tool that’s revolutionising field work for environmental monitoring and surveying.

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Why GIS?

GIS relates to capturing and displaying locational data to easily visualise, analyze and understand patterns within their environments.

By studying factors such as vegetation, soil, fauna and land disturbance, scientists can determine the short and long term impacts of industrial projects and ensure accountability and longevity of our agriculture, infrastructure and mining industries.

Flora surveys are regularly undertaken to gather comprehensive information about an area of vegetation. Although modern technologies such as satellite imagery and drones are effective, manual in-person examination of physical subjects is still essential.

The type of data required can be difficult and time consuming to capture when only equipped with pen and paper. Thankfully, mobile GIS and data collection solutions have renewed this outdated method. Mappt™ is a mobile data collection application that provides several invaluable features for flora and fauna surveying and environmental monitoring.

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  1. Offline GPS Tracking

Mappt is built with offline GPS tracking to record the exact movements of where field workers have travelled. The offline component enables the device to be used in any remote location without internet access. Mappt calculates distances, helps workers to find targeted areas faster and provides evidence of the ground they have covered. GPS tracking also increases transparency to verify that sensitive sites have not been disturbed.

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  1. Drop Down Forms

The digital revolution is in full swing and the need for paper is diminishing. Environmental workers now have the power to use devices such as tablets or even phones to easily take notes on specific points, draw lines and view this all this information visually on a digital map. Mappt enables users to give attributes to specific points on a map and create detailed descriptions in customisable ‘drop down’ forms.

Field workers can enter detailed or simple descriptions on landforms, soils, vegetation conditions, period since last fire, disturbances or any correlation between vegetation and landform features. Drop down forms remove the need for traditional tables as the data can be pre-populated. The forms have intelligent pre-fill suggestions to reduce repetitive typing and cut down human error. Mappt also allows workers to import and export any kind of GIS data, maps or figures.

  1. Geofencing Quadrats

Quadrats are areas within a marked boundary within which data is collected. Mappt has a geofencing tool which allows users to mark out areas that field workers should not disturb, such as wildlife habitats, heritage land and sensitive sites. Geofencing can also be used to simply mark out the area you should be working in to assess a specific rehabilitation zone.

If a boundary is breached, an alarm will sound and an alert will display to stop you in your tracks. Mappt will also log the event according to date, time and distance.

Mappt has a number of other convenient, efficient and in depth GIS field data collection tools to make environmental monitoring a breeze. Some of these feature include; importing and exporting GIS data; geotagged photos; thematic mapping; cache Google Maps; and WMS and WFS capabilities.

For the full list of features, please visit our Features page or try them for yourself.

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Technology Empowers

Whether you’re conducting a biosecurity risk assessment, collecting entomology data or surveying flora and fauna, mobile GIS data collection has made tackling Earth’s challenges lighter, safer and faster.

Monitoring flora and fauna is not only important for ensuring ecosystems are protected but certifies for the durability of the mining, infrastructure and utility industries. Planning, monitoring and rehabilitating are environmental necessities made more efficient through the emerging technology of mobile data collection and GIS.

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Ssiobhan-profile2iobhan Herne
Marketing and Communications

Siobhan has no background in GIS, she’s a beginner, just like you. Follow her stories for an easier digest of all things geospatial.

Sources

http://www.epa.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/Policies_and_Guidance/EPA%20Technical%20Guidance%20-%20Flora%20and%20Vegetation%20survey_Dec13.pdf

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The Role of GIS in Solving Global Health Problems

When thinking about how technology has influenced the medical industry, what springs to mind?

Laboratories? Brain scanners? Advanced surgery equipment?

Whilst these developments have benefited patients in a direct sense, other technological innovations occurring behind the scenes are thriving. One of the most exciting yet overlooked technologies emerging today is the power of geospatial or location-based technology in the medical industry.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are an evolving technology that are saving lives indirectly. A GIS is a multifaceted form of mapping that enables users to capture, visualise, monitor and manipulate geographic data. Being armed with this type of data empowers health workers to see patient demographics in a way they’ve never seen before.

What if we could determine where the source of a disease was? Discover why an illness was occurring and predict where it would spread to next? Or improve our services to people in need?

These are the kinds of questions that are being answered through the integration of GIS into the medical realm, with their results responding to health problems all over the world.

Identifying Trends

To understand ‘why’ a disease or illness occurs, information or data is key. In both quantity and quality, the way we interpret data can make all the difference. GIS is used to visualise data and identify trends or behaviours associated with location.

A recent example of how GIS was used to identify trends in health was the United States’ National Community Mapping Institute. The organisation created a map identifying ‘Years of Potential Life Lost before Age 75’.

The map allowed people to physically see the clusters or areas that were high in premature mortality. The map suggested premature mortality rates were much higher in the southern half of the US, as opposed to the North. From there, specialists could make this a focus of their research and question why this is occurring; what other correlations do those areas have?

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With illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease on the rise, GIS provides an invaluable source of research for health care professionals. Determining locations where illnesses are prevalent and implementing prevention strategies in areas that aren’t, are just some of the exceptional ways GIS is helping to identify and solve global health trends.

Tracking the Spread of Infectious Disease

Infectious disease is another ballpark. The spread of infectious diseases such as Measles or Ebola occurs at a much faster rate. This means it is essential for health workers and governments to have an immediate awareness and understanding of the infected persons’ location, how fast the infectious disease is spreading and where it will most likely hit next.

This type of geographic data has become increasingly accessible due to the recent development in GIS technologies. For example, our mobile mapping and data collection tool Mappt™ was recently used by a global health organisation during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014.

The mobile application tool allowed Ebola medical field workers to gather data in an efficient manner. The app worked on hand held tablets and smartphones, making the device light and compact, plus Mappt works offline so it could function in remote areas without internet access. Mappt enabled field workers to ascertain valuable geographical information by using features such as:

  • Offline GPS Tracking – track the ground field workers covered
  • Points, Polylines and Polygons – flag findings, highlight areas and store attribute information
  • Geotagged Photos – take a photograph using a device out in the field and geotagging it to a specific location
  • Drop Down Forms – log annotations and descriptive information in simple drop down forms.
  • Gridding – easily visualise and measure distances
  • Geofencing – mark out inclusion or exclusion zones to keep team members out of hazardous zones. Breaching a fence will alert the user with a visual and audial alarm
  • Importing and Exporting Data – fully compatible with WMS, WFS & WMTS and all major online and cloud based tools and imagery

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Mappt assisted in the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history. These kinds of features empowered the medical teams with the data to create visualisations and run predictive model algorithms. In other words, health workers could create a picture to identify, predict and prevent the spread of such a horrific outbreak and create an informed health community.

Wearable Technology

Health related statistics have a major influence in identifying the causes of global health problems, but a high quantity of quality data is paramount to accurate and informative studies. Acquiring substantial amounts of personalised data has been achievable in recent years through the introduction of wearable devices. Personal healthcare technologies such as fitness bracelets that track a person’s heart rate, sleeping patterns and level of activity, are often used to determine how these levels are varied in different geographic areas.

When combined with GIS, wearable devices embody a powerful tool to uncover long-term geographic patterns and trends in diverse demographics. Adding geographic data to healthcare statistics has already begun to revolutionize the healthcare systems all over the world.

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The Power of Location

Geospatial technologies such as GIS and mapping collection tools have transformed countless industries and will continue to address health issues like infectious disease control or unhealthy habits of people in specific areas. As technologies advance and medical industries adopt and integrate these innovations, unhealthy lifestyles and diseases will feasibly decrease.

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Ssiobhan-profile2iobhan Herne
Marketing and Communications

Siobhan has no background in GIS, she’s a beginner, just like you. Follow her stories for an easier digest of all things geospatial.

Sources

http://hitconsultant.net/2015/10/29/5-benefits-of-geographic-information-systems-in-healthcare/

http://www.giscloud.com/blog/mapping-the-disease-using-gis-for-improving-malaria-interventions-in-nigeria/#A56hdBiOEa3TkdMJ.99

http://communitymappingforhealthequity.org/past-maps-of-the-day/years-of-potential-life-lost-before-age-75-2012-2014/

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5 Ways GIS is Transforming Agriculture and the Environment

What are the major implications of GIS for agriculture, the environment and preserving our earth in 2017?

Geospatial technology is transforming the agriculture industry in unimaginable ways. In only a few short years, the power and accessibility of digital mapping both on and offline has changed the way farmers and agricultural structures are doing their most basic tasks.

Geographic information systems (GIS) allow us to visualise, analyse and understand geographic data. They can show us which crops are thriving, how pollution is hindering and which fertilisers are enhancing.

With this kind of revolutionary technology in full swing, there has never been a better time for farmers, environmentalists, foresters and agriculture specialists to capitalise on productivity.

Agriculture and Farming

GIS has revolutionised a farmer’s work. With the help of expert GIS consultants, farmers are now able to access the latest satellite technology with precision agriculture.

However, there are simpler, cheaper and more accessible ways the power of location can be utilised by farmers themselves.

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Mobile Devices

Mobile mapping applications have evolved dramatically in the last few years, making paper maps and pens ancient history. Mobile apps work on hand held tablets or smartphones, reducing the need for bulky computers or complicated surveying equipment when out in the field.

Mappt™ is a mobile GIS data collection app which enables users to create, edit, store, and share geospatial information. Farmers can use and handheld device to drop a pin or mark a specific location on a digital map. Using a lightweight, compact device such as a tablet or phone empowers farmers with the capacity to easily collect their own data.

Mappt’s receptive interface allows farmers with minimal training to use drop-down forms at each location point, noting a piece of information or attribute such as the type of fertilizer used, the condition of the crop or the topography of the land.

Some variables farmers may need to collect and analyse include:

  • soil type
  • elevation (topography)
  • crop yield
  • crop quality
  • field boundaries
  • management zones
  • remotely sensed imagery
  • weed and pest locations
  • historical land use

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GPS

Global Positioning Systems or GPS are freely available and built in to most compact devices. A GPS displays your exact location on the earth’s surface by picking up data instantaneously sent from several satellites orbiting the globe.

Mappt’s GPS can be used to track a job out in the field. It’s ideal for remote locations as it works completely offline, can be paused and restarted at any time, and runs in the background while you collect other data. For example, a farmer may use GPS to pinpoint designated positions in the field to collect soil samples. This information can be logged in a handheld device before, during and after samples are collected, whilst tracking a person’s every move.

Geotagging

Another benefit of using a hand-held device with an inbuilt camera is being able to capture photographic evidence. Geotagging images collected in the field to their exact location provides farmers with additional information and offers a reference for future crop analysis and comparison. Thus, improving overall accuracy and efficiencies.

Geofencing

There are disasters to avoid in agricultural planning that can have a detrimental effect if inaccuracy occurs: droughts, drainage, roads, insects and floods. Their heavy impacts can be avoided through GIS assisted strategic planning.

Mapping is used to examine and evaluate these attributes to ensure maximum accuracy when identifying new areas to plant crops or make existing yields more efficient.

When working in the field, separating zones is also crucial as it’s not always clear where your boundaries end and your neighbours’ begins.

Mappt™ allows you to not only draw lines and polygons, but colour code areas and set warning visual and audio alarms. Once a geofence is created, a farmer will be alerted with an alarm notification if a boundary is breached. This ensures you do not disturb land that doesn’t belong to you or plant crops in a restricted area.

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GIS for Climate Change

We know conservation and environmental management is imperative for the sustainability of the earth, especially in today’s rapidly evolving technological world.

Recent history has taught us that human impact can have a dramatic effect on the environment as well as shifting global climates. This is creating complex challenges for businesses in every industry – particularly agriculture.

According to the World Wildlife Federation, agricultural practices are responsible for around 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with contributing factors including fertilisers, livestock, burning of savanna and agricultural residues, and ploughing.

Farming our food does not always give back to the earth.

Climate change is anticipated to affect crop production in several ways, but most impedingly, precipitation and temperature changes. Rainfall and temperatures may shorten or lengthen the growing season or cause an increase in droughts and flooding. Because of these environmental changes, crop prices could skew and become economically nonviable.

GIS plays a fundamental role in the ongoing challenge to reduce and cope with the effects of climate change, specifically determining what crops we sow and where to maximise land efficiency.

Below are some of the ways GIS can assist with plotting relief:

  • Ensure accurate reporting with improved data collection
  • Improve decision making
  • Increase productivity with streamlined work processes
  • Provide better data analysis and presentation options
  • Model dynamic environmental phenomena
  • Create predictive scenarios for environmental impact studies
  • Automate regulatory compliance processes
  • Disseminate maps and share map data across the internet

Accumulating data on the problem and adjusting relief and contingency methods in accordance to this data, is how GIS can play a major role in shaping a solution.

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What does it mean for our future?

In the past, it was difficult for farmers to know how and which farming methods were working efficiently due to the continuous variations and irregularities across the land.

Today, technological innovations such as GIS and mobile mapping have transformed common agricultural systems and revolutionised field efficiency and productivity.

With this kind of technology in our pockets, mobile GIS will expectantly continue to improve production for farmers in a way that is sustainable in the future and hopefully provide a reliable source of food for all.

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siobhan-profile2Siobhan Herne
Marketing and Communications

Siobhan has no background in GIS, she’s a beginner, just like you. Follow her stories for an easier digest of all things geospatial.

Sources

http://www.environmentalscience.org/agriculture-science-gis

http://www.sugarresearch.com.au/icms_docs/178430_GIS_and_Precision_Agriculture_IS14015.pdf

http://www.americansentinel.edu/blog/2012/03/14/farmers-use-gis-technology-for-a-growing-world/

http://www.hitachi.com/rev/pdf/2009/r2009_06_106.pdf

http://www.gps.gov/applications/agriculture/

http://www.pitneybowes.com/us/location-intelligence/case-studies/use-location-intelligence-to-turn-big-data-into-business-insight.html

http://www.gpsalliance.org/agriculture.aspx

https://theconversation.com/farmers-of-the-future-will-utilize-drones-robots-and-gps-37739

 

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How GIS is Saving the Day – 5 GIS Tools for Disaster Management

Earthquakes, landslides, floods and fires are just a handful of natural disasters that devastate areas, with some never fully recovering. Lives are lost, infrastructure is destroyed and entire communities are forced to leave their homes behind.

However, the way we handle emergency relief today has been entirely revolutionised thanks to the surge in use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

A GIS is a commanding technology that utilise the power of location based data. It can be used before, during and after natural disasters to significantly contribute to the emergency management of catastrophic situations.

Through monitoring, data collection, impact assessment and disaster simulation, the power of GIS is changing the way we pick ourselves up after an extraordinary event.

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Importing and Exporting Data

When disaster strikes, information can be the difference between life and death. Being armed with as much information and data as possible assists with prevention, preparedness, relief and recovery.

Mappt is a prime example of a GIS application that can offer substantial support during disaster relief.

The mobile application has the power to import GIS data, such as satellite imagery, electrical grids, maps of gas and water pipes, and provide the rescuer who’s out in the field with information they cannot see.

When disaster areas are covered in debris, flooded or up in flames, Mappt allows users to see what existed previously beneath their feet when searching for survivors or assessing damages.

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Offline

If the disaster zone’s internet access has been compromised, Mappt still allows users to access previously uploaded maps and data.

Once back online it is vital that the collected information is published and shared quickly and directly with relevant parties

Mappt also allows users to embed data onto a website, send files directly via email or upload to Google Drive, all within minutes!

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Geotagged Photos

Being able to capture data exactly where it happened is also critical in disaster management.

Photographing and documenting damages not only provides emergency management with the extent of damages, but also assists in the determination of how and where a disaster first struck.

Having geotagged photos – photos with a GPS location – on a map significantly contributes to disaster relief and recovery, as they’re a far better visual aid than an ambiguous marker point, therefore ensuring rapid situation assessments.

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GPS Tracking

Continuously tracking emergency service workers is essential to coordinating disaster relief and immediate responses.

Because of Mappt’s advanced map tile caching, the application enables offline GPS tracking.

This allows users to roam in areas with no internet access, yet still access the exact patterns of their movements when out in the field.

Analyzing data involves tracking areas covered by emergency workers, making it ideal for off road route planning, calculating distances and helping workers find their way back to base.

Having this type of geospatial information at hand assists in decision making and resource allocation for emergency planners.

Geofencing

Disaster sites are extremely dangerous after a natural disaster, so keeping workers safe when entering hazardous zones is crucial.

Geofencing allows users to set up perimeters on their map to mark out exclusion and inclusion zones and keep workers safe or on track. It also provides the basis for vulnerability and hazard assessments.

If a user breaches a boundary, Mappt will sound a visual and audial alarm, and the event will be logged.

 polys

Points, Lines and Polygons

Flagging important areas or plotting key positions on a map, such as dangerous areas, survivors or debris, is extremely important in disaster management.

Mappt has several simple tools to create a personal and completely unique dataset using points, polylines and polygons.

Users can change the colour and style of points, customise line styles, and edit the opacity of the area within a polygon.

Our GIS also allows users to assign attributes to each feature, so you’ll know exactly why you highlighted a section.

This could be used to mark out flooded areas, burnt vegetation or a point of damage.

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Disaster Proof!

In disaster relief, GIS is an invaluable tool for emergency management. GIS has an enormity of uses as it can manage huge levels of data required for vulnerability and hazard assessments.

When combined with GPS, geospatial tools assist in the search for survivors in areas that are difficult to access or see. They can also be used for planning evacuation routes and the integration of satellite data with other relevant data when designing early warning systems.

GIS can also be used to prepare complex prediction models, spatial databases and assist in creating appropriate contingency plans.

To sum it up – emergency management would be a disaster without GIS!

Mappt differs from other GIS platforms with its easy to use features, mobile and tablet integration, offline capability and our very affordable licenses.

Businesses in over 130 countries use our software due to its friendly interface and easy to use features, making Mappt the perfect GIS for those who need to act fast.

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Ssiobhan-profile2iobhan Herne
Marketing and Communications

Siobhan has no background in GIS, she’s a beginner, just like you. Follow her stories for an easier digest of all things geospatial.

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Why Geospatial Technology is set to explode in 2017

When we think of the term ‘geospatial’ what springs to mind? Maps? Satellites? Space?
Of course those subjects are relevant, however, geospatial refers to all things related to location.

Data, drones, maps, cameras, sensors, cars, infrastructure and your mobile phone. The rapid expansion of this industry is happening right now, so why is this so important for us in 2017?

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have the ability to integrate into every aspect of our lives. The recent and rapid increase in technology has enabled this integration, and it’s up to us to decide how we want to proceed. With more data and connectivity than ever before, humans have the power to solve real life problems.

So, let’s take a look at what’s in store for us this year.

Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT is the massive network of connected devices and sensors that transmit messages back to us in real time. Yes, ‘smart’ devices. Smart homes, smart phones, smart cars and smart cities.

Cisco estimates the IoT market will be worth US$19 trillion within the next 10 years, and by 2020 the internet will have over 50 billion connected devices! Google and Apple have already built networks with over 5 million developers.

The geospatial enablement of these connected devices play a pivotal role in the IoT marketplace. Smart cities, for example, have the capacity to solve traffic congestion, improve waste management and help make our cities safer.

A recent example is the waste management app Bigbelly. The app uses cloud computing to transmit data specifying which rubbish bin locations are full and need to be collected. This has already begun to radically improve waste management systems in over 45 countries and will, in turn, reduce pollution as a global effect.

iot

Satellites

The latest stats from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) suggest there are currently 1,419 active satellites in orbit as of 30 June 2016, with thousands more under construction.

Interestingly, government-funded platforms are in decline, and privately funded micro-satellites are on the rise – costing a fraction of the price. This shift in operations will not only make satellite imagery more available, but cheaper and more abundant.

In 2015, Earth Observation Systems (EOS) alone contributed AUD$496 million in direct economic benefit to Australia and generated around 9000 new jobs.

In a bid to make internet accessible in lesser developed countries, Google has teamed up with O3B and Elon Musk’s SpaceX to deliver the internet via satellite. One solution, known as Project Loon, involves a high-altitude balloon network floating in the stratosphere.

Loon has been tested in multiple countries, and is currently operating in Sri Lanka, making it the first country to have universal internet access via the helium balloon system.

a-train_satellites

Drones

Drones: arguably the most exciting devices zipping around today! Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), known to many as drones, are cultivating crop yields, filming Hollywood blockbusters and delivering pizza straight to your door.

Drones are dominating a market that’s forecasted to skyrocket by more than 6,000% by 2020. ABI Research estimates the small drone market will surpass US$8.4 billion by the end of 2017.

According to Dan Kara, Practice Director of Robotics at ABI Research, the commercial RPAS sector is where the market’s thriving, with revenues expected to exceed US$5.1 billion by 2019.

The capabilities of drones are still being recognised. Dangerous human jobs like wind turbine inspections, the mapping of collapsed buildings or oil spills during emergency situations are some of the exciting applications serving major benefit throughout the world.

Accessibility and affordability is also becoming mainstream, with drones available to anyone over the counter and online.

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Wearable devices

While wearable technologies may seem ultra-futuristic, these types of devices are not far away from the masses.

The market for wearable devices is predicted to grow at 99% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) between 2015 and 2020.

Fitness tracking bracelets only scratch the surface of the wearable device market, as Virtual Reality (VR) headsets are cropping up in a variety of industries.

In the field of geospatial, Topcon is working with DAQRI to create wearable technology (smart helmets) for surveying, construction, engineering and mining professionals.

Their aim is to make work safer through augmented reality and give users a hands-free tool that can be used onsite. Affordability is also becoming crucial.

With the help of our smartphones, VR headsets are available for as little as AUD$35. Although not fully revolutionised, it is estimated that more than 26 million VR headsets will be distributed by 2020.

DAQRI Smart Helmet

DAQRI Smart Helmet – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCAShzXhBCI

GIS (Geographic Information System)

When explaining what a GIS is, National Geographic sums it up nicely:

“A GIS is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth’s surface. GIS can show many different kinds of data on one map. This enables people to more easily see, analyze, and understand patterns and relationships. ”

Gone are the days when only qualified specialists could navigate a GIS and in specialist industries like remote sensing. Nowadays various GIS are used across a range of industries from real estate and agriculture, to local government authorities and educational institutes.

Mobile GIS devices are particularly beneficial as they enable anyone to create and gather location-based data on the go.

Our mobile GIS application Mappt allows you to create, edit, store and share geospatial information with your fingertips.

We differ from other GIS platforms because of our easy to use features, mobile and tablet integration, offline capability and our very affordable licenses. This makes Mappt the perfect GIS for beginners, and an easy to use advanced mapping tool for veterans; this is why businesses in over 130 countries use our software.

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Let’s wrap it up

With nearly half of the world’s population (that’s 3.4 billion people) connected to the internet, and a ‘space race’ to connect the other half, Location-Based Services (LBS) and the geospatial realm will continue to experience explosive growth over the next couple of years. Whilst leading technology companies like Google are in the lead, emerging smaller businesses are setting exciting standards.

As technology moves forward there is an exciting ambiguity as to how much digital transformation will shape and improve our lives.

Through rapidly growing modernisations such as the Internet of Things, satellites, drones or even virtual reality headsets, humans have never been more connected – geospatially or otherwise.

Although there are pressing matters like privacy and security, the opportunities for powerful geospatial innovations are endless.

If you want more than today’s slice of information, please refer to the CRCSI Global Outlook 2016: Spatial Information Industry report.

 

siobhan-profile2Siobhan Herne
Marketing and Communications

Siobhan has no background in GIS, she’s a beginner, just like you. Follow her stories for an easier digest of all things geospatial.

 

Sources

Coppa, I., Woodgate, P. W., and Mohamed-Ghouse Z.S. (2016), ‘Global Outlook 2016: Spatial Information Industry’. Published by the Australia and New Zealand Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information.

http://www. sciencealert.com/google-s-internet-balloons-will-soon-connect-all-of-sri-lanka-with-wifi

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-09/world-drone-market-seen-nearing-127-billion-in-2020-pwc-says

ABIResearch, “Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Market Exceeds US$8.4 Billion by 2019”, abiresearch.com

CISCO, “Industry Perspective: Understanding the Internet of Everything”

 

Success in the GIS workplace: Part II

The latest industry insights to get you ahead of the GIS game

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Success in the GIS Workplace: Part I

Today’s job market is pretty grim, so whether you’re kicking off your GIS career or you’re a long-time player looking for ways to stay on top of your game, knowing the basics of how to succeed in the GIS workplace is crucial.

To help you out, we’ve put together a comprehensive three-part series on gaining (and retaining) competency in the GIS workforce. With a little help from a publication from the Journal of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA Journal), we give you the secret to what makes a fantastic GIS professional as well as some easy and practical ways that you can do to succeed in the GIS workplace.

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When the U.S. Department of Labor issued a Geospatial Technology Competency Model in 2010, the URISA Journal went ahead and broke it down for us.

Their eighteen-page paper describes, in detail, the contents of the Competency Model and how it can be used to further your GIS career. This three-part careers series is a reader-friendly summary of the paper and highlights the most important aspects of competency in the GIS workplace.

We’ll also explore the practical ways in which we can gain these competencies. So let’s get started!

Breaking Down the Model

The model is structured as a pyramid with nine levels, or ‘Tiers’.

Starting at the bottom of the pyramid, Tier One specifies the more general skills (or ‘competencies’) you’d need to be competent at any job. As you go up the levels of the pyramid, the competencies become more and more specific for the GIS workplace, with the top-tier, Tier Nine, specifying management competencies.

So here are the nine levels from the bottom of the pyramid to the top:

  • Tier One: Personal Effectiveness Competencies
  • Tier Two: Academic Competencies
  • Tier Three: Workplace Competencies
  • Tier Four: Industry-Wide Technical Competencies
  • Tier Five: Industry-Sector Technical Competencies
  • Tiers Six to Eight: Occupation-Specific Competencies and Requirements
  • Tier Nine: Management Competencies

 

Geospatial Competency Model Pyramid from The U.S. Bureau of Labor

Geospatial Competency Model Pyramid from The U.S. Bureau of Labor

 

In this post we’ll cover the first three tiers of the Geospatial Technology Competency Model.

Tier One: Personal Effectiveness Competencies

Tier One is also known as ‘soft skills’, or personal attributes that are essential for most workplaces. These are broken down as:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Integrity
  • Professionalism
  • Initiative
  • Dependability
  • Life-long learning

Granted, the components of the personal effectiveness competencies vary depending on who you ask. However, these six are the U.S. Department of Labor’s definition of the most important soft skills that a professional needs to improve one’s ability to reach his or her personal goals.

If you’d like more information on these components you can easily search for Personal Development resources online, or comment below so we can point you in the right direction!

Tier Two: Academic Competencies

Tier Two competencies are the skills normally learnt in an academic setting. In addition to the basic reading, writing, mathematics, and science, we have communication skills and critical thinking as essential cognitive functions. For the field of GIS specifically, geography and basic computer skills are included in this level.

Geography skills include:

  • Subject-specific geographic knowledge in:
    • Human-environment interaction
    • Regional geography
    • Physical geography
    • Cultural geography
  • Geographic skills in:
    • 
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
    • Cartography
    • Field methods
    • Spatial statistics
  • Geographic perspectives in:
    • Spatial thinking
    • Global perspective
    • An interdisciplinary perspective

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For those of us in the field of GIS, the Basic Computer Skills specified by the U.S. Department of Labor may seem a bit silly. However, an important point to note is learning to manage databases, especially if you’re just starting out.

SQL is the most commonly used language to manage databases in the field of GIS and there are plenty of free introductory courses online.

 

Tier Three: Workplace Competencies

Workplace competencies represent interpersonal and self-management styles that are applicable to a wide range of occupations and industries. They are:

  • Teamwork
  • Creative thinking
  • Planning and organisation
  • Problem solving and decision making
  • Working with tools and technology
  • Checking, examining, and recording
  • Business fundamentals

These soft skills are what you learn the longer you work in a field, and are the basis of becoming a professional in that area.

In the field of GIS in particular, most of these skills can only be gained through experience as you work with others to solve GIS problems.

 

Wrapping It Up on the Foundational Competencies

As you can see, the foundation competencies are the basis of a GIS career. They are the basis on which you will build more industry-specific skills.

So stay tuned for Part Two, as we discuss the next tiers involving industry-specific competencies!

 

This article is part one of three on the “Success in the GIS Workplace” series.

 

Sources:

DiBiase, D., Corbin, T., Fox, T., Francica, J., Green, K., Jackson, J., …, Van Sickle, J. (2010). The New Geospatial Technology Competency Model: Bringing Workforce Needs into Focus. URISA Journal, 22(2), 56-72. Retrieved January 20, 2017, from http://www.urisa.org/clientuploads/directory/Documents/Journal/Vol22No2.pdf.

U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration (n.d.). Geospatial Technology Competency Model. Career OneStop. Retrieved January 20, 2017, from https://www.careeronestop.org/CompetencyModel/competency-models/geospatial-technology.aspx.

5 of the Best GIS Open Data Sources

A fundamental step of conducting a GIS analysis is obtaining good source of data. Without reliable data, we can’t produce a reliable analysis – in other words, it’s “trash in, trash out” – so here is a round up of some of the best GIS open data sources we’ve found.

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1.  Humanitarian Data Exchange

The Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) is an open platform for sharing humanitarian data. They define humanitarian data as:

  • data about the context in which a humanitarian crisis is occurring (such as baseline/development data, damage assessments, and geospatial data)
  • data about the people affected by the crisis and their needs
  • data about the response by organisations and people seeking to help those in need of assistance

The HDX is the ideal place to go if you’re looking for a dataset on current events.

2. Natural Earth

Natural Earth has a collection of raster and vector map data for Earth’s physical features. The data is available at multiple levels of detail and includes coastline, land, glaciated areas, and bathymetry.

3. DIVA-GIS

If you’re after human geography data on individual countries, check out DIVA-GIS.

Simply select a country from their drop down list, then all the data associated with that country can be downloaded as a zip file. Their data includes administrative areas, roads, elevation, land cover, and population.

DIVA-GIS is probably the best place to go if you want a simple set of data for a specific country.

4. NASA Lansat

If you’re not familiar with NASA’s Landsat images, you’re either new to the field of GIS or have been working under a rock.

Most satellite images you find online would have came from Landsat, so getting your data from this source gives you direct access to the data. However, bear in mind that there’s no instant access, you have to request the data you want first.

5. Free GIS Data

Finally, the list of all lists: Free GIS Data. Free GIS Data is an aggregated list of, you guess it, all the free GIS data out there!

The list was created by Robin Wilson, a researcher at the University of Southampton. You can find a variety of physical geography, human geography, and country-specific data – it’s an absolute goldmine!

6. Mappt Elements

Yes our new free iOS mapping app, available on your iPhone has access to live weather feeds, Spookfish imagery, random shape files, vector and raster data, 330,000 USGS GeoPDfs and more. The app has in-app purchases so you only pay for the maps you need.

Mappt Elements goal is to eventually become a place where people go for maps and geographic data of any kind.

Try Mappt Elements today.

 

The best part about these sources is you can load all the datasets straight into Mappt, and take them offline into the field! 

We hope this helps you with your search for good data. If you’d like us to create more in-depth reviews of specific data sources, let us know in the comment box below.

Download your free trial of Mappt today!

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