Monthly Archives: November 2013

If Big Data is a Desert, Then Location Analytics Turn It into Glass Vase

Big data is not something new and keep many CIO/manager awake at night. According to Wikipedia, Big data is the term for a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications.

I heard much discussion about big data but nothing beats the metaphor/analogy put forward by Richard Leadbeater, Esri Global Manager for State Government & Trade Associations Industries. Richard was recently in Malaysia as one of the plenary speaker at 17th Esri Malaysia User Conference 2013 in Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC).

Richard is a great speaker. He discussed both the challenge associated with big data and the role of GIS professionals in helping their respective organization to overcome these challenges by leveraging data integration and location analytics capabilities of GIS.

According to Richard, data is our natural resource, simply because it has significant economic potential. Data will help us understand and make more informed decision. It promotes new innovative solutions and increases transparency. All in all, right kind of data delivers societal challenges, achieves internal efficiency and fosters participation of citizens.

If data is our natural resources, then our next task should rightfully be leveraging on it and making full benefits of it.

Richard nicely describes it by the following vivid pictorial explanation. He simply put it, if data is our natural resources, then we have lots of it. Government agencies especially will have lots of it. Data is just like sand, it is available everywhere. Sand is our natural resources that can be used to make building material or glass. However, lots of it might not mean good as one can get lost in the middle of sand (desert).

Big Data2 Big Data3 If our data is a pile of sand, then many Business Intelligence (BI) tools are making nice sand castle from our pile of sand (reads “get these data organized, structured”). Coupled that with location analytics capability of GIS, GIS professional can actually make a big transformation by unveiling location patterns (distributed vs. concentrated), spatial relationship between location (near vs. far, within certain distance or radius, connected with transport network, within political or administrative boundary), etc. Richard refers this as by turning the sand castle (which is nice provided under clear weather) into glass vase that can be admired by larger audience even though during rainy days.

Big Data4 Big Data

What a remarkable analogy. It is easy to conceptualize yet it is so powerful. Indeed, location analytic is empowering many organizations by enabling better data visualization on a map to see new patterns. In addition, location analytics enable powerful overlay and allow users to combine different isolated datasets i.e. demographics, consumer spending, lifestyle, business data, etc. which share a commonality – location/address to meet new opportunities and gain new insights.

If you are users of IBM Cognos, SAP, MicroStrategy, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Sharepoint, or simply Microsoft Excel, you can get more value out of your big data (making beautiful glass vase out of sand) by turning to location analytics.

P/s : Richard is also active on Twitter via @PolicyMapper.


From an ArcGIS 11 sneak peek, to an inside look at the SLA – here are the APUC Plenary Highlights

Good APUC 2013 event summary from Alicia/Esri Australia.

Esri Australia

88c5f7da4c2111e397980e9c793a57d2_8APUC kicked off Wednesday morning with an exceptional array of presentations from some of the ‘who’s who’ in the global GIS community. There were compelling user presentations (such as Singapore Land Authority and Downer New Zealand), and leading technology experts (such as 3D king Eric Wittner). And APUC attendees even got the world’s first look at what’s coming in ArcGIS 11.

But for me – there were three highlights in particular.

Firstly, the plenary began with a moving address from Esri Singapore Managing Director Leslie Wong, who spoke about what makes Asia special and unique – its resilience against adversity.

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Book Review : Web GIS – Principles and Applications

Web GIS – Principles and Applications by Pinde Fu and Jiulin Sun (Esri Press)

Web GIS – Principles and Applications

By Pinde Fu and Jiulin Sun (Esri Press)


What is Web GIS ? Web GIS is a type of distributed geospatial information system that uses web technology to communicate between components. Web GIS inherent advantages over traditional desktop GIS due to the following:-

  • A global reach
  • A large number of users
  • Better cross-platform capability
  • Low cost as averaged by the number of users
  • Easy to use for end users
  • Unified update
  • Diverse applications

Pinde Fu and Jiulin Sun elaborates Web GIS from perspective of Mobile GIS, Geoportal, NDSI, e-business and e-government, what are the potential type of applications made possible by Web GIS in these areas.

The authors cite many examples and case studies that show geospatial information can be shared by a variety of means. The authors also explain the rationale of introducing Geoportal in the context of Web GIS because geoportals are a type of Web GIS application. Geoportal is web site where geospatial information can be discovered – make it easier for users to find, access and use geospatial information. In other words, Geoportals facilitate geospatial information sharing and web service is an increasingly popular way of sharing information.

The authors seek to ensure that readers get the right perspective and understand the benefits of Web GIS – the book is packed with case studies, challenges and prospects in dealing with Web GIS, especially the needs to take into account internet users who have no GIS background, as scalability performance issues as the number of internet users increases.

At the end of the book, the authors share areas of new frontiers and future trends related to Web GIS. An informative read for those who are interested in Web GIS