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Managing Spatial Big Data with Process Automation

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Geographic data underpins the growth of national economies. In the UK, Ordnance Survey mapping data is so vital that an independent report put its value to the British economy at more than £100 billion. National spatial data holdings are critical to decision making. Therefore these data holdings have to be accurate, up-to-date and managed to a guaranteed standard.

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Surveying in Haiti

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The headquarters of the Caribbean’s largest telecommunications company and Haiti’s largest employer - Digicel, was one of the only buildings left standing and operational in Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake of 2010. Kier Construction recently contracted Murphy Surveys to undertake high-precision surveying on the building to assess any after-effects of the natural disaster, and to facilitate the design and replacement of the curtain walling.

Owned by Irish man Denis O’Brien, Digicel has more than 13 million customers of its telecommunications products and services, across 31 markets in the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the South Pacific. The company is renowned for its multi-billion Dollar investments in the struggling community, where it operates three charitable foundations and employs more than 5,500.

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Cloud GIS maps development in Pakistan

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The problem of silos is a familiar one to many organisations. James Gasson, a United Nations volunteer based in Pakistan, explains how Esri’s cloud GIS technology has allowed the UN Development Programme to create a Web Map Hub to centralise isolated information in under three months.

Residents of Jacobabad district in northern Sindh province of Pakistan were still wading through floodwater in November 2012, two months after record-breaking rainfall. (Photographer - Alanna Jorde.)

In September 2012, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) became the first organisation in Pakistan to purchase a subscription to ArcGIS Online, the newly-released Cloud GIS technology from Esri. This has enabled UNDP to create their Web Map Hub. It was established in order to address some long-standing problems within the UN, not unfamiliar to many other organisations, namely silos – the isolated islands of information, services and expertise that characterise organisations and countries everywhere.

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Field Data Collection: A Story From The Field

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The Editor at GiS Professional, Robin Waters. talks to John Booth, team leader for traffic management at Mouchel, who explains why he switched his department to digital data capture, the challenges involved and why he chose Trimble’s Geo6000 series.

For over ten years, the manufacturers and suppliers of digital mapping systems have preached a simple sales message. . . if you want to improve your efficiency and increase your field/office productivity, then digital data capture is the way forward.

However, the realities of switching to a new way of working – which can sometimes obscure the end rewards – cannot be ignored. An initial capital outlay, introducing change, training field workers and, in some cases, overcoming an underlying scepticism towards new hardware and software are seen by some organisations as burdens to be side-stepped by simply retaining old methods.

John Booth, Mouchel’s team leader for traffic management, was able to see beyond the initial challenges in changing work practices within his department, but was still faced with the problem of finding a data collection system for which it was actually worth changing.

John has recently been involved in several data collection projects and knew that, if he was to deliver the service and value that Mouchel’s clients expected, he needed a complete solution from easy, accurate recording in the field and a seamless transfer of data to the office mapping system. Past experience with underperforming technology had left him with a mistrust of fancy sales presentations. He was really concerned that the ‘cradle to grave’ digital data capture solution didn’t yet exist. It was therefore with some reservation that he had his initial meeting with Trimble mapping distributor, KOREC.

A year later and John is in a position to explain the process that led to his team becoming one of the first UK users of Trimble’s Geo6000 series devices for data collection.

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Dead parrots save money! New guidance on polygons helps local authorities

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The publication last year of new guidance on the creation and maintenance of polygons for basic land and property units (BLPUs) suggests that not all local authorities are yet convinced of the need to move from single point coordinates for each unit to a full polygon describing the area covered by each unit. Gayle Gander from GeoPlace describes the development of this guidance, which included extensive consultation with many practitioners in local government.

The debate about the use of polygons rather than points to represent basic land and property units (BLPUs) in land and property gazetteers has been raging vigorously for many years, with each side lobbing a barrage of pros and cons back and forth over the now well-established barricades.

The release of a consultation document from the GeoPlace Gazetteers Polygon Working Group (GPWG) might therefore be regarded by the cynics as just another artillery shell. In fact, it may be a star shell that actually illuminates the issues. It offers clarity for those in local government who wish to create polygons, whilst acknowledging that some authorities may opt out. This may be for a variety of reasons. Some authorities have already captured polygons using GIS; some, especially large rural districts, have very complex boundaries; others simply do not have the resources to maintain their polygons on a sustainable basis.

Temple Image: The temple is a two storey building with an entrance at the corner of the building. Three shops are on the ground floor under part of the temple. (Image copyright Sandwell MBC. All rights reserved.)

Temple Polygon: The shop BLPU Polygon follows the building outline in the base mapping. The first floor of the temple extends over the shops. Therefore, the BLPU Polygon for the temple overlaps the BLPU Polygons for the shops. (Image copyright Sandwell MBC. All rights reserved.)

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