GIS is Driving Innovation

Maps and spatial analysis are helping address today's challenges around the world.



I had the opportunity to attend the virtual Esri User Conference (UC). Jack Dangermond, CEO and Founder, highlighted many of the ways their ArcGIS digital mapping and analytics software platform has been used during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.


I had the opportunity to attend the 2019 Esri UC last year with 18,000 attendees. This year, there were 80,000 attendees online to discuss and learn how location intelligence helps enterprises achieve their digital transformation needs that require location and mapping -- pretty much everything.


GIS and COVID-19


Enterprises and organizations are tracking and responding to cases using GIS -- location intelligence for emergency response, connecting and collaborating with others, tracking vulnerabilities and most vulnerable communities, understanding human movement, and sharing data across municipalities and healthcare providers. Here are several examples:


Contact Tracing - adding location data to contract tracing helps speed awareness and enable timely preventive action. Location technology addresses cases and contacts to help leaders devise containment strategies.


Spatial approaches for retail stores and offices to safely reopen. As communities balance wellness and economic recovery, maps and dashboards help guide decisions. Dashboards combine maps and data inputs to display information to react to constantly changing conditions. ArcGIS is driving the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracking maps. Maps are central to understanding COVID-19 cases and implications.


Tracking disease helps scientists determine its cause and behavior. Maps of hard-hit areas alert residents and reinforce the need for caution. Locating vulnerable populations informs response.


Models and maps explore COVID-19 surges and help officials prepare. Multiple models provide up-to-date estimates of how many people will need to be hospitalized, and maps help explore hospital capacity and impacts on people. Mathematical models combined with spatial analytics help calculate and present COVID-19 forecasts. Policymakers are able to use models and smart maps to examine the impact of policy decisions. GIS helps explore the implications of each forecast, answering location questions to guide response and recovery.


GIS and Climate Resilience


Boulder, CO is using ArcGIS and simulation modeling to help understand weather events as well as its impact on people and the local economy. After a crippling five-day storm that dropped 17 inches of rain which resulted in flooding, Boulder, CO analyzed its vulnerability to future catastrophes. With greater understanding of the effects of climate change, Boulder is using geodesign, data evaluation, and impact-driven design to be more resilient, protect its citizens, and prepare its infrastructure.


Cape Cod is using GIS to save its shoreline from the effects of climate change. In response to shore erosion, Cape Cod Commission uses geodesign for data, evaluation, and impact-driven plans to enhance resilience. Interactive tools support residents and guide decision-makers. The online app they built shows residents the impact, response scenarios, and trade-offs of sea-level rise and erosion along with different mitigation approaches.


GIS and Food Insecurity


The Atlanta Food Bank is using GIS to combat food insecurity in Atlanta for a number of years. The COVID-19 pandemic has only further exacerbated the need for food assistance in the area.


The World Food Programme is using GIS to understand how COVID-19 has impacted food resources in Latin America and how to meet the elevated need.


GIS and Retail Distribution


Bass Pro Shops is using location technology to monitor and manage operations of all retail locations and distribution centers during COVID-19. They have created dashboards that show the status of operations across the country with KPIs. They are using location intelligence to keep up with the varying state, county, and municipal restrictions and requirements.


YUM! Brands' KFC is using GIS and location intelligence to plan for new stores, he;p franchisees plan their investments, and create the right dining experience for customers.


Corsicana Mattress is using location intelligence to understand what mattresses are most popular by geography. They have learned that where people live influences what they purchase regardless of if they purchase online on in a physical store. Corsicana uses GIS-driven location intelligence to understand what people want on a neighborhood-specific level. The company is also using location intelligence to determine where to spend advertising dollars and how to optimize their supply chain. Location intelligence has helped transform the 50-year-old brick-and-mortar business to serve customers in both the digital and physical retail channels.


Retailers are combining CRM and GIS to understand how and where customers want to show. Retailers are evolving from omnichannel to unified commerce using AI. Many are segmenting customers into core shopper profiles and catering to how and where each segment likes to shop. Others are using location data and AI to determine the dollar value a physical store contributes to online sales and the dollar value online sales contribute to physical store sales by geographic region and demographic targets.

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© 2020 by Tom Smith | ctsmithiii@gmail.com | @ctsmithiii