Finding your way in Big Data.

Do you use maps in your organisation today? Like me, I would guess most of you would say, no!

Do you use maps outside work? Like me, I would say many times every day…

Drive to work, just check the traffic!  Going to a new place, just start the GPS!  Want a restaurant, lets Google/Uban Spoon/etc.!  Need petrol, where is the nearest?  Wonder where my son is, let me look at ‘find my friends’.  Going on holiday?

So why when we use on-line interactive and mashed up maps everyday personally do we not build these capabilities into our systems? Last week listening to the people from Esri I realised just how powerful mapping is to big data.

I spent last week with the folks of Esri at their annual conference Ozri, (Esri Australia is the nation’s leading Geographic Information System (GIS) specialist here).  They prove the tools and systems you need to operationalize maps.

Now we are all familiar with the map-mashup, we use it everyday where information is overlayed on the map. (If you go back in my blog about a year, (here), you see my cycling application overlaying GPS data on the map… so I can see terrain, segments, etc.   But there were so many new use cases I was not aware of…

3D maps are fascinating and provide a whole new dimension to their applicability, (dad joke).  When you think 3D don’t think ground maps and don’t think static. Firstly think mines, construction sites, city plans, etc and then think ‘modelling and simulation’ on top of these, then think visualisation!  Now walk through a new city, and change planning assumptions as you go. Build the new railway line and change zoning along it to see what happens. Build a mine and visualise what happens as different assumptions are made.

Why stop there, add the fourth dimension time, now watch satellite imagery of the third runway being built, (Sydney Airport), and the resultant change in vegetation on the adjacent shores.  Calculate how cities are encroaching on surrounding farm-land and extrapolate it out 50 years.

The last real sexy demonstration I’ll talk about is their integration into Microsoft Office! Plonk a map into your spread sheet and ‘feed’ rows into the map, (which contain location information). Immediately pick up patterns, hot-spots, even filter the data and watch how things change.

Now try and think about what your organisation does and how location can add a new dimension! As someone said at the conference, GIS adds context to data and remember that everything that happens, happens somewhere. GIS the gateway to Big Data!


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