GeoWorld August 2011

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To the Enterprise: Beam Me Up, Scotty POSITION W BY TODD DANIELSON henever I heard the phrase "enterprise GIS," I always pic- tured a sleek spaceship flying through the galaxy, "boldly going where no man has gone before." I'm sure I'm not alone in this regard. But I eventually figured out that enterprise GIS has nothing to do with holodecks and phasers, and a lot to do with making a lot of peoples' lives and jobs easier through the power of geospatial technology. So What Is It? According to Wikipedia, an enterprise GIS is integrated through an entire orga- nization so large numbers of users can manage, share, and use spatial data and related information to address a variety of needs, including data creation, modification, visualization, analysis and dissemination. The site also lists some excellent bullet points about what an enterprise GIS should do: • Support huge numbers of simulta- neous transactions • Integrate with other enterprise sys- tems (e.g., SAP, billing systems, etc.) • Comply with OGC Standards to enable easier integration with other systems • Display data in the same way (styles/symbols) for desktop, Web and mobile users The Esri Web site adds that "enter- prise GIS experts maintain control of the information and applications, yet pro- ductivity skyrockets as more users have access to geospatial information." Although enterprise GIS has been Todd Danielson is editor of GeoWorld magazine, PO Box 773498, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477; e-mail: 4 GEO W ORLD / AUGUST 2O11 around for a while, it took some time for the idea and technology to mature. It seemed like users previously had to jump through a lot of hoops to make any enter- prise technology work; it had to be "force fed." But that appears to have changed. Chicken or Egg? But which came first? Did organi- zations first realize how effective enterprisewide technologies can be, before demanding that software and hardware companies create solutions that could take them there? Or did the solution providers eventually create packages that organizations realized they needed and could efficiently implement? I believe it was the former, as I've had to block out Star Trek images for quite some time, so the idea of enter- prise GIS has been around for a while. It just took a long time to make them efficient and worth the extra costs and implementation time that they require. A comparison could be made to mobile technology, which has been around for a long time in some form. However, for a long stretch of that time, mobile tech- nology was too expensive and difficult for many to use. It was "just easier" to make field measurements on maps or journals and then re-enter them back in the office on computers. But eventually, expenses went down and ease went up, to the point where not using mobile technology doesn't make any sense. Why perform three steps in multiple locations when they can all be done at once on a smartphone? That's where we are with enterprise technology. If your organization is appropriate for the technology—and many simply aren't due to size or struc- ture—it just makes sense to utilize an enterprisewide package. The pros now far outweigh the cons (and the costs). Read It Here I'm bringing up enterprise GIS because that's the focus of this month's issue. Erik Shepard provides a "timely" column about enterprise technology and its relation to time events on page 30. And our feature articles include some great examples of the communities of Buffalo, N.Y., and Honolulu using enterprise GIS to make their governments more efficient and useful for their constituents. The time has come for the enter- prise. The future is here. But there are no holodecks just yet.

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