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"IT departments are being forced to become more process oriented,
which is a good thing. Instead of just being stewards of all the
infrastructure and applications, IT is being held accountable for
process outcomes and the support of business objectives. Geospatial
tools are inline with this growing trend, with an increasing number of
vendors marketing solutions and services in addition to platforms."

PerspectivesWebHeader
 

IT departments are being forced to become more process oriented,
which is a good thing. Instead of just being stewards of all the
infrastructure and applications, IT is being held accountable for
process outcomes and the support of business objectives. Geospatial
tools are inline with this growing trend, with an increasing number of
vendors marketing solutions and services in addition to platforms.

Computing power, connectivity and the resources to customize are
becoming more of a commodity with the service as the ultimate focus.
Geospatial solutions stand to garner a good deal of attention and IT
spend if the focus for geospatial investment emphasizes increased
efficiency, problem solving and decision support. While the underlying
system and workflows are still important, new investments will
primarily involve the extension of existing systems rather than the
purchase and migration toward new platforms.

Leveraging Information

Traditional GIS was occupied first and foremost with cataloging the
location of assets and producing map products. The emphasis has shifted
toward leveraging geospatial information for business process
enhancements, with custom applications that are largely being built
online. New solutions are created leveraging web services as well as
software as a service architectures with development tools that allow
for the creative combination of data from various sources to provide
insight tailored to specific audiences.

Server-based approaches are more
nimble and collaborative than desktop software. The flexibility of a
web-based approach enables organizations to incorporate data from
multiple sources, including the ability to pull together live data
feeds such as traffic, weather or the location of mobile workers. This
ability to easily integrate with other systems for dynamic
visualization is of increasing importance for decision makers who have
become accustomed to dashboards and the simpler geographic viewing
environments such as Google Earth.

Powerful Data Integration

Databased asset details are being extended now and integrated with
other systems. The utility sector provides a good example of how GIS
investments have lead to broader enterprise integration. The GIS
provided good asset details and a network model that has subsequently
been leveraged for outage management, work management and customer
management.

Here, the base investment to better manage the grid and elements on
the grid have led to greater efficiencies in other parts of the
operation. Similar benefits can be uncovered and found in other sectors
where the geospatial investment isn’t as mature.

Accelerated Application Development

Rich Internet applications are now being
developed using a variety of tools that are much simpler to develop
with. ESRI has a REST API, JavaScript API and Flex API. There’s also
Microsoft’s Silverlight that’s gaining followers. Building impressive
applications and tools has become much quicker and easier than in the
past, creating compelling geospatial tools without the need for desktop
software.

The ranks of geospatial application developers are growing steadily.
With every new easy-to-use tool that aligns geospatial closer with
standard web development practices, the growth leaps forward. The
swelling of the ranks of new online application development comes at a
good time when companies are looking for low-cost and high-impact means
to extend their long-term investments in systems.

Geospatial technology has made inroads into IT departments, and is
often now a subset of IT in many organizations. Now, with greater
geospatial alignment with standard web development practice, the time
is ripe for geospatial developers to extend a hand of welcome for more
collaborative solution development with geo newbies. The barriers are
coming down between GIS and IT, and both camps stand to benefit.

———————————————

Note: This column alternates weekly between Vector1 Media editors. Matt
Ball is editor Americas/Asia Pacific for V1 Magazine and V1 Energy
magazine.  

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