Companies in many different industries are realizing applications of GIS (geospatial information systems) can provide competitive and strategic advantages, productivity increases and efficiencies in operations. GIS, when combined with mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops and other handheld devices allow organizations to use GPS sensors, digital maps and editing software in order to view, document and analyze all kinds of things in new and innovative ways.
Once you represent your environment, location and processes digitally, you can build all kinds of analytics, algorithms and processes to take advantage of this data.
Even in simple scenarios interesting analytics and processes can be done. Knowing the location of a mobile asset at a date and time is helpful. If it is moving, knowing how fast it is going and estimating the time of arrival is useful. Knowing where a mobile worker is located and their skills, qualifications and job status enables you to plan their next job dynamically. All of these items start with knowing their location.
Some additional examples of GIS applications are:
- Tracking fleets of vehicles with dynamic maps to estimate time of arrival and ensure safety and compliance
- Monitoring the location of employees to ensure safety and optimized utilization
- Mapping underground utility lines for sewer, cable, electricity, to provide safety and optimized construction and maintenance activities
- Mapping construction progress to ensure deadlines and schedules are met
A decade ago, GIS technology required expensive hardware and software to support it. Today, however, relatively inexpensive iPads and smartphones can be used with Google Earth and other GIS databases.
ESRI, the largest GIS software developer, allows workers to use tablets and smartphones to input data and create maps. ArcPad, ESRI’s application for mobile devices, allows field workers to collect and input data on their mobile device and sync that data with their desktop programs such as ArcMap or ArcGIS. This technology is relatively new and is increasingly important for companies of all kinds.
Examples of GIS in action:
Columbia County, Georgia is using field GIS applications to map underground broadband Internet lines in order to have accurate locations of their utility system. Using field workers equipped with GPS devices and GIS software the county was able to quickly collect this data with the highest level of accuracy. (http://bit.ly/1hy7OxU)
Australian mining companies are using GIS to increase productivity and safety for their operations. Using GIS the mining companies have been able to track supply shipments by outfitting truck drivers with iPads that relay their locations to other iPads with the same real-time, dynamic map of mining sites. In addition companies have been tracking employees to ensure their safety when working in dangerous environments. (http://bit.ly/Pr9jrr)
The North Charleston Sewer District in South Carolina is using GIS to track construction progress and asset locations. This has allowed project managers to supervise the construction progress with more detail and to have better accountability on county vehicle usage. (http://bit.ly/1mWdQOd)
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.