user_mobilelogo

Learn more about Geocortex software, implementation, and the Maperture service powered by Geocortex Essentials.

As an authorized Geocortex Implementation Solution Provider, DDS has been providing custom Geocortex solutions to our clients since 2011. We work closely with our customers to identify their needs and requirements, and implement solutions designed to what is important to their organizational goals. We can develop Geocortex applications entirely within a client’s internal infrastructure, or develop applications on our server and later migrate it to the client site.

More information about DDS's Geocortex Implementation Solutions can be found at digitaldataservices.com

Subcategories from this category:

Geocortex Meetup Group

When is it time to break up with a business process?

Far too often, organizations find themselves tied to inefficient, labor-intensive processes. Whether your end-users are stuck completing mindless and repetitive tasks, or they’re collecting data on paper (only to have to enter it in an archaic system in the office), it can make for a frustrating experience.

With advancements in technology, and GIS in particular, there is no reason to continue following manual, inefficient processes. There are several signs that a business process is just isn’t right for you anymore – see if any of them sound familiar. 

 

End-users are experiencing difficulty

While this may be the most obvious sign that a process isn’t working, it’s often overlooked. When processes are complex or manual in nature, you’ll generally see end-users having difficulty completing their tasks and continually requiring assistance from the GIS department

This can slow down your workforce and bog you down with requests for assistance. One way to improve in this area is by simplifying the end-user experience; providing users with guided interactions makes for a much more pleasing experience and improves end-user success

You’re experiencing data integrity issues

Data integrity is an ongoing challenge in many organizations, and depending on the type of data being used, errors can have significant consequences. In many cases, poor data comes from using paper-based processes that are prone to transcription errors, or from not setting the proper parameters on the data being entered into an application.

At their core, GIS systems are about improving decision making. If your team doesn’t have proper information, they are not making properly informed decisions.

The best way to avoid this is to provide dedicated interfaces for data collection. Most technology will allow you to present only the data you require your field workers to collect, as well as set rules against the data being entered, to ensure it enters the system correctly. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to completely avoid data errors, but following best practices can reduce them significantly.

Your users are spending a lot of time searching for information across disparate systems

Most organizations house important business data across several different systems; there are financial systems, asset management systems, document management systems, business intelligence systems, and many more.

If these systems are not properly integrated, it can become difficult for your end-users to track down all the information they need. It can also waste time and money if your users need to jump between systems to find information.

This pain can be alleviated with proper integrations between systems. Try making all the necessary data – regardless of which system it lives in – available in the application being used to manage a process.

For example, if your end-users need to complete fire inspections on buildings, don’t make them jump to a separate zoning system to collect information about a particular building. Instead, consider integrating the zoning system within the inspection application, and automatically present the necessary zoning info at a stage in the process that makes sense.

You’re struggling to organize and present important information to other departments and stakeholders

One of the most common, and valuable, use-cases of a GIS is conveying information to people so they can make informed decisions. If you find that your users are spending many hours collecting and compiling information into reports, it may be time to revisit the process.

Besides the obvious repetitive, inefficient nature of manually compiling reports, it takes your users away from high-value activities. Labor is expensive and you want to ensure you’re getting the most out of the investments in your team… they’ll be happier doing more fulfilling work, too!

It all comes back to decision making – if people don’t have the information they need, when they need it, and in an easy-to-interpret format, they won’t be making properly informed decisions.

When building out processes, it’s important to start with the end in mind. Consider GIS technology that allows you to auto-generate reports in different templates. Start with a vision for the report you want in mind, then tailor data collection activities based on your goals.

So, it’s time to break up - what do you do now?

If your organization is experiencing any of the challenges described above, chances are it’s time to break up with your business process(es). But that’s a big decision to make, so what do you do next?

A good start is to shadow the people responsible for completing a particular process (if it’s not you). If you’re in the office supporting a process for a different department, you may not get a full sense of everything that’s involved. It’s good to get in the trenches with your staff and really get an understanding of what it is they have to do to complete their work.

You can also try drawing your workflow out on paper, from end to end. By thinking critically about the entire flow of a process you’re able to identify areas that are ripe for improvement. We often get so tied up in the day-to-day demands of our jobs that we miss tasks that are repetitive or unnecessary. There may be steps that can be automated with the right technology, or removed entirely. Until you see the full picture, it’s difficult to determine where to adjust.

Copyright

© Latitude Geographics

Continue reading
36 Hits

Work Smarter with Geocortex Essentials 4.7

We’re pleased to share that Geocortex Essentials 4.7 – alongside Geocortex Viewer for HTML5 2.8 and Geocortex Mobile App Framework (GMAF) 2.2 – are now available for download in the Geocortex Support Center.

Packed with tons of new features, these releases help customers improve communication, stay organized and take advantage of enhanced visualization options. 

 

Solving Communication Challenges Spatially with Geocortex Collaboration

Communication is an ongoing – and often the most identified – challenge in many organizations, particularly when working with distributed workforces and/or field workers. In some industries, such as public safety, being able to communicate effectively is critical and can save lives and protect critical infrastructure.

Available out-of-the-box with Geocortex Viewer for HTML5 2.8, Geocortex Collaboration is a set of map-based collaboration tools aimed at streamlining how people interact through their GIS. Users can share messages, pictures and mark-up about the map in real-time, directly in your Geocortex Viewer for HTML5 applications.

You can also review how Geocortex Collaboration conversations unfolded with time slider playback. You don’t just see the result; you see how you got there so you can learn from successes and failures.

A good use case for time slider playback is emergency operations center (EOC) practice exercises; many EOCs simulate emergencies periodically to help them prepare for the real thing. By using Geocortex Collaboration for these exercises, the EOC can review how the emergency response unfolded and identify areas that are ripe for improvement. Strong emergency responses can mean the difference between life and death, so EOCs are always looking for ways to improve their responses.


The Power of Groups

Returned results are now grouped by layer, keeping everything organized and allowing you to perform additional actions on each discrete collection of results.

GIS is all about conveying information to people to help them make decisions, and we feel that these improvements to results will help you present information to your users in a way that’s intuitive and easy to interpret.

Feature Highlighting Enhancements

You can now see the extent of your selected features and easily associate individual features with your results list through improved feature highlighting and push-pin interactions. This has been one of the most sought after features in recent months, and we’re excited to deliver it with Geocortex Viewer for HTML5 2.8!

Learn more

While these are some of the more prominent additions, the releases include a wide array of powerful new features. To learn about everything that’s included, or to download the new versions, please visit the product release page.

Haven’t upgraded to ArcGIS 10.5 yet? We recommend timing these upgrades together, and our ArcGIS Implementation Services team is here to help get you there!

Copyright

© Latitude Geographics

Continue reading
57 Hits

You have a GIS. Have you connected your business processes to it?

Historically, GIS has been a system of record for many organizations, and the ability to complete any meaningful analysis lived within the GIS department. Mapping software has recently become more accessible and easy to use, and we’ve seen GIS evolve into a system of engagement and insight.

Did you know you can take your GIS even further, and use it to streamline many of your key (and often annoyingly manual) business processes? 

 

Simplify end-user experiences with automated, repeatable tasks

Many of your end-users’ common interactions with your applications can be automated and significantly simplified. Common tasks that can be automated include:

Data collection: Paper-based data collection -- particularly for users in the field – is still a common process for many organizations; modern GIS tools allow data to be collected seamlessly through easy-to-configure forms. Providing fields for only the information you need simplifies the experience and improves data quality.
Visual analysis: There are many examples of visual analysis that, if not automated, would be incredibly laborious and difficult for a user to complete. For example, if a water utility needs to shut down a valve, they can quickly run an analysis inside their mapping application that shows them all the water supply sources that the shutdown will affect. To complete this manually would take many hours, and becomes increasingly costly for everyone involved. Reporting: When work is complete, there’s often a need to compile all the necessary information into a report; this can happen manually (and usually involves some combination of photocopying and scanning). This can be simplified with web mapping software: by pre-determining report templates, you can automatically compile the required data into a summary report.

Take charge and guide your end-users

Your end-users don’t need a set of complex GIS tools; they only want to see what is required to complete the task at hand. Automating repeatable tasks is one way to simplify the experience for your users, but there are additional steps you can take to improve your business processes.

Guided interactions: Walking your users through the processes they need to complete increases the likelihood of success, and can reduce frustration. Only show them what they need, when they need it. A great example of guided interactions is walking the public through permit applications. Many local governments offer mapping applications where residents can submit applications online, and by guiding the public through the process, you ensure that you get the right information and that the user understands what is required of them. Dedicated interfaces: Offer your end-users dedicated, task-based interfaces; it reduces clutter and allows them to complete their jobs more efficiently. Pre-populate key fields: If your users are collecting data through the application, don’t make them complete fields that you’re able to pre-populate automatically. Fields such as who’s running the task, or what time it is, can be populated based on information that already lives in the application.

Validate data intelligently

Data integrity is an ongoing challenge for many organizations, and fixing poor data can eat up precious time. Luckily, there are approaches you can use to ensure quality data.

Real-time validation: If your users are entering data into the application, notify them instantly if the data is incorrect. Being allowed to enter incorrect data throughout a form – only to have to go back and fix it later – can make for a frustrating experience. For example, a field worker may be completing a water meter install: if they enter the model number of the meter into the application, they can be automatically notified if it’s the wrong meter, or if there’s a duplicate meter number already in use. It saves them from installing the meter, only to find out later that it needs to be replaced. Rules-based validation: If you need data to be displayed in a specific format, building formatting requirements at the outset will save you – and your end-user – needless frustration. Rules-based validation allows you to provide instant feedback if a user tries to enter data in an incorrect format. An example of this that we’re all used to is password requirements. How many times have you tried to create a password for a new system, and are prompted that the password requires a capital letter, a number, and a special character? That’s rules-based validation.

Spreading the word in your organization

You can greatly improve the experience for your end-users and increase adoption of your mapping applications. For many, GIS is a foreign concept, but with a few simple tactics you can put powerful tools in the hands of your employees that are simple and intuitive to use.

Now that you know what it means to streamline business processes with GIS, it’s up to you to share this knowledge in your organization.

Why should anyone else care? At the end of the day, it all comes down to efficiency gains, consistency, and ROI. If your organization is following paper-based processes or battling with data integrity, it’s costing you time and money. By automating repeatable tasks and taking steps to ensure the correct data is collected, we’ve seen organizations save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in operating costs.

Copyright

© Latitude Geographics

Continue reading
78 Hits

Bay Area Rapid Transit: Improving Efficiency and Simplifying Critical Business Processes

BART Train

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is a public transportation system serving four counties in the San Francisco Bay Area; their rapid transit system operates 46 stations across 112 miles of track, with an estimated average ridership in 2016 of 433,000 trips per weekday, and close to 129 million trips for the entire year.

For more than four decades, BART has been an efficient and reliable way for San Francisco’s Bay Area Residents to commute: what began as a futuristic dream in 1972 has grown to be a vital part of the regional culture and economy. 

 

A major challenge BART faced was how to manage the ongoing need for track maintenance and repairs. They were following a paper-based system, which was inefficient and labor intensive. Each time the track had to undergo maintenance, Track Allocation staff had to complete and submit a detailed paper form, which took more than half an hour to complete and often had transcription errors.

They were able to solve this problem with a Geocortex application called the Track Allocation System (TAS) that leverages Geocortex Workflow and Geocortex Reporting technology. Track Allocation staff can now simply draw a box on the map to select the area and assets where the work needs to occur, and the workflow running in the back-end automatically populates a Track Allocation Request Form.

A process that used to take more than 30 minutes now takes a matter of seconds to complete. The TAS was implemented in March 2016 and already has a user base of more than 160 employees, who have recorded more than 7,000 track allocation requests.

Clayton Statham, BART’s TAS GIS Architect, has been able to quantify savings. Early analysis indicates that the TAS will help BART free up more than $1 million in annual operating labor; once linked to their enterprise asset management system, that number is expected to grow to $4 million annually.

Read the full Bay Area Rapid Transit customer story here.

Copyright

© Latitude Geographics

Continue reading
89 Hits

Geocortex at the 2017 Esri Petroleum GIS Conference

It’s the beginning of April, which means we’re gearing up for another Esri Petroleum GIS Conference. While the preparation is intense and the week is going to be busy, it’s the conference I look forward to most each year! From reconnecting with colleagues and meeting new people, to seeing how the industry responds and adapts to ongoing change – to hearing what Esri will showcase at this year’s conference – I get more and more excited each year. As we gear up for the event I thought I’d offer a couple of predictions, opportunities to connect with us at the conference, and a request.

 

Prediction #1:  The plenary session will provide thought-provoking and compelling stories that will further drive many operators to consider how they can advance their investments in GIS.

The plenary session always impresses me: from the speakers to the demonstrations, it is consistently a well-executed presentation of knowledge and insight into the industry and how spatial technology augments petroleum operations.

In 2016, for example, Scott Sitzman presented on how PUG is driving a methodology of industry standardized processes to get jobs done, while Howard Energy provided visibility into how their organization is shifting by embracing GIS. Esri presents thought-provoking content, geared to the petroleum industry, that isn’t available at the other GIS and technology conferences throughout the year.   

Prediction #2: The value of identities has been realized, and the speed of adoption will continue to grow.

The plenary is a method of recapping what the industry has accomplished, as well as laying the foundation for where the industry is going. The last few years have seen the rise of ArcGIS Online and the modern ArcGIS platform, showing how GIS has grown from “make me a map” to an ecosystem of self-discovery. Incorporating the power of where has significantly improved the decisions that are made. The industry is realizing benefits of shifting from a system of record to a system of insight, enabling users to have access to effective decision making tools anywhere, anytime, and on any device.

Where to connect with the Geocortex Energy team in Houston

Our team will be at booth #812 throughout the week and we encourage you to come say hi! You’re the reason the team attends the conference, and we are excited to see what you have been doing and hear about your successes. 

This is a great chance to get a look at how we’re embracing the identity model, how we can help your organization easily adopt it, and how we’re working to help energy organizations transform how people engage with spatial data throughout their organizations.

We’ll also be highlighting the solutions we’re building for the petroleum industry, how Geocortex Essentials is evolving to next-generation tools, and how we can assist your organization in rapidly deploying useful applications with little or no code.

Presentations you won’t want to miss

In looking through the conference agenda, many interesting topics piqued my interest. Seeing how companies are solving problems through points, lines, and polygons continues to amaze me!

These presentations reinforce my theory that organizations are not only embracing the web GIS pattern; they are enhancing decision making throughout their organizations.

On Thursday, April 13 there are two presentations showcasing Geocortex that we think you should add to your list.

9:30 AM in Ballroom C: Anthony Herman will be presenting how Geocortex Mobile App Framework has facilitated inspections – the solution leverages APR, UPDM and the Esri identity model. I also heard a rumor that Anthony has a cool co-presenter. 1:30 PM in Room 310: David LaGorce from ConocoPhillips will be presenting on an integration between ArcGIS, Geocortex, and the Quorum suite. I’ve seen a similar presentation before, and it’s a good one!

A simple request

We are eager to hear your thoughts and opinions from the conference. After all, you are the ones that implement ideas and use them to solve business challenges. A good idea is only a good idea until it helps someone improve an internal process, or make operations safer.

Things we’d like to hear from you:

What was your favorite solution presented at the conference? Why? How do you think this will improve your business? What is the current challenge this will help you overcome? And how?

Following the conference, I’ll summarize the event from my perspective, and (with proper permission) highlight some of the compelling insight we’ve gained from listening to you.

We are looking forward to seeing all of you at the conference - thanks in advance for coming by!

Copyright

© Latitude Geographics

Continue reading
110 Hits