Skip to content
<p><iframe allow="autoplay" frameborder="0" height="110px" src="https://player.pippa.io/5a7367eb2219bdf808ec93f8/episodes/what-gis-can-tell-us-ep-91?theme=white&amp;latest=1" width="100%"></iframe></p>

Listen to Episode 91

Chuck Wright and Anna Ross join us to dive into the fascinating world of GIS (geographic information systems) to talk about how this type of data can help streamline operations and inspire innovative ways to work.

SHOW NOTES:

*Please go to iTunes and give us a review!

Show Script:

Welcome to the Operate Intelligently Podcast, the podcast for all things operations.

Brian:

We have another great episode for you on geographic information system data, or GIS for short. Joining me today from the Dude Solutions product and GIS teams are Chuck Wright, Senior Product Manager, and Anna Ross, Senior Solution Specialist. Welcome to the podcast.

Chuck & Anna:

Hey, thanks for having us.

Brian:

So tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do for The Dude. Anna, let's start with you.

Anna:

Okay, so I am a Senior Solution Specialist I mainly implement our connection is clients and as well as kind of how about the whole Dude team with any GIS questions, as well as helping to support LST (Legendary Support Team) with anything else that comes through.

Brian:

And Chuck.

Chuck:

Hey, so I'm on our product management team. Specifically, I work with our products, and GIS in particular to bring those in, so we can leverage the power of GIS in the solutions that we provide to our clients.

Brian:

Great. And I'm going to start with you, Anna. Tell us a little bit about what GIS is and how people use it.

Anna:

Yeah, so GIS is basically geographically referenced data. And it will describe both the locations and characteristics of spatial features. So to bring that back down, a good example is Google Maps. So when you're looking at a Google Map, you're seeing a couple different pieces of information at once, you might be seeing the street layer, and you might be seeing restaurants or hotels. You're seeing all kinds of different information together on one map. So you can see all the spatial relations and how everything interacts with each other.

Brian:

And Chuck, so why is this important to like, operations management? Like, what benefit do people get from GIS data?

Chuck:

So Thanks, Brian. Yeah, I in operations, there's a ton of benefit. But let's just talk about some, some of the real top things that are kind of low hanging fruit out there for people to take advantage of. So the first one is really having a reference base of where things are an organization, especially true for anybody that has any assets are spread out over a large facility, perhaps over an entire county, or, you know, even, you know, larger cultural operations, knowing where those things are, a lot of times is locked up in people's hands. So if somebody is out sick, one day, somebody retires, where's that information? Where are those assets. One really funny story that I've got, there is a town and they, you know, had a water leak, and they were searching and searching and searching for water valve to turn that off, so they could stop the league get it repaired, and they start tracing it back. And they just can't find this water valve. So, you know, it turns out after, you know, an hour of searching, a homeowner had decided that where that valve is located, wasn't very attractive, and have built up a flower bed and pots and other things around that and obscured it. So it's really tough for them to find, where if they had a GIS system combined with some modern technology, like the GPS on your smartphone or tablet, they would have been able to walk right there and say, I know it's there, I noticed flower bed, but I've got confidence in this data that I can literally dig in and find that to get everything prepared. So it can be a real big time saver. Um, the other thing that, again, is really significant, there's the ability to prioritize and organize your work, you know, a great example, there's maybe somebody that that works in a permitting office, you know, if I take a very strict first in first out approach, or request from say, citizens to go to a permitting inspection, I like be on the east side of town, and then drop to the west side of town, and then back to the east side of town. And I spent so much time traveling versus actually getting that worked on. Whereas if I have that here in a GIS system, where I can see spatially where it is, rather than just planning my day out, based on a 123, I can group those things. So in the same neighborhood, I can just get more done faster by spending less time traveling and more time actually executing on my job. 

Brian:

I mean, much like the way people are using Google Maps, where if you if you are you can add stops, and and kind of especially it's the middle of the day. There's a lot of traffic and figure the best fastest route around. So yeah, I think that's a great example, because the mobile technology does give us the ability to kind of zone in right on the spot where things are.

Chuck:

Yep, absolutely. And another benefit that people don't think about a lot, but I think it's very important as the ability to add additional protections for your workers. So, you know, with the GIS system, being able to know where people are at where they're working, you know, allows them protections for just general safety. So a person's outbound working in a remote location, some happens, we've got, we know where they are, at that time, also, from more of a legal protection standpoint, if I can tell another quick story. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we had a client call us up and say, Hey, I'm really, really glad I had this because, you know, we had someone that called in and said that, you know, we damaged their mailbox basically destroyed that and they wanted to see or come back and replace that at our cost, etc, and basically blamed on one of the sanitation vehicles. And because we had geographic information on where that was, had real quick and easy data to pull up and say, you know, heck was it us? If so, let's do the right thing, let's fix it. Or in this particular case, you know, we know where all of our vehicles were, nobody was on your street, you know, at the time that this happened, so it wasn't. So we had that car protection for our ourselves in our employees.

Brian:

You giving that example reminded me also where I've actually seen it in my personal life, my children, right with the school bus. And now I believe there's there's tracking devices on the buses, because they get a text alert when the bus is coming. So and as well as if the bus is late. And I'm assuming as well, the school board is also being able to use that data to calculate, you know, average time it takes to get the kids school went back, you can tell even I'm sure into, like energy consumption on the buses, fleet management and other types of data needs. 

Chuck:

Yep, absolutely. And what's really great about that, it's not just a benefit, in that case, back to a school board. But back to the students and the parents. Because, again, how many of us had to wait for a school bus standing out in the rain or the snow or whether where, you know, perhaps if we had a text alert on the school bus is going to be there at our stop in about five minutes, we could easily wait in a dry, warm, safe environment until it's time to go out.

Brian:

As well as rush the kids out if they're dawdling too much. I do that sometimes with mine. So what types of organizations benefit the most from using GIS data?

Anna:

Yeah, so I think any organization can benefit from the use of GIS, anywhere from healthcare, education, manufacturing, pretty much everyone, even banking and maybe organizations you might not think of off the top of your head are using GIS now to help their organizations.

Chuck:

Yeah, absolutely. So, some great examples as we would talk a little bit about government education. Farming is a huge one. GIS is used in precision agriculture. There are some crops that have very specific pesticides or other treatments on the plants that they use that can be, you know, thousands of dollars to apply. And by using precision, GIS and GPS on tractors and farm equipment, they can ensure that they have exactly the right application and where that is. So that's another great example. Any kind of utilities I'm highlighting is also another big one. So any oil and gas industry is very large. Another one, I don't think people may relate to GIS, but it's pretty critical is in meteorology. So think, for example of, you know, you're watching the weatherman on TV, and that map and all that data look best GIS as well. And that data is used for a lot of different purposes. So think about the insurance or reinsurance industry, or they can look at who they insure. And geographically, it makes a very big difference if a storm comes in. And my entire portfolio that I'm ensuring is in a very tight cluster, or if it's spread out, if it's in a tight cluster, a major hurricane comes in, then, you know, 100% of the people I'm sure may be impacted. Whereas if I had that spread out, geographically, I'm able to reduce my risk provide overall better service knowing that it's very unlikely for a large percentage, those ensure to be impacted all at the same time. So very easily to see those patterns in a map form or GIS. Not so easy to see it in a more standard tabular Excel spreadsheet data view.

Brian:

Yeah, yeah, well, that reminds me also, you know, IBM buying the Weather Channel and tying it in with Watson because it's feeding it constant real-time GIS data. And I actually saw demo because it was interesting was more say, on the procurement and Sony management side of that, but they were saying, you know, the scenario can be like, you've got manufacturing facilities on Pacific Coast, and a typhoon might be coming up or even on these coasts in a hurricane and where they were using AI to start telling, okay, maybe it's time to shift operations to close this plant down shift operations, you know, keeping their manufacturing lines are keeping their production lines going, but still dealing with a potential imminent weather threat.

Chuck:

Right, right. Great example, Brian. And another one I know you're as well very familiar with is the ability to find additional patterns in data that you can't find otherwise. And so a great example of that if we think of somebody who is running a water wastewater system, certain pipes might have additional failures are in need of additional maintenance. And when you just look at it, why is that? Well, we don't know. Anna, one of the reasons we will look for that would be?

Anna:

Yeah, so there might be different types of layers that can play into that. So you've got type of soil operational data, roadwork, so on and so forth that can play into that.

Chuck:

Okay, so having different soil types like clay versus sandy might impact settling for those pipes. Somebody's got some heavy equipment out for the roads, you know, maybe that has damaged the pie been underground without somebody/s knowledge. 

Anna:

Yes, you'll have all that information in one place.

Chuck:

So then, yeah, you kind of go and look at, you know, do you see those patterns? Have they happened at a frequency maybe that's out of the regular normal operations and such?

Brian:

Okay, absolutely.

Commercial: We've got an exciting programming announcement for our listeners. There's another Brian at The Dude that will be joining the podcasting family. I want to welcome Brian Ondrako to come in and tell us a little bit about new programming. Thanks, Brian. Got some really exciting news. So we're actually launching a new series called The Gov Gab Radio Podcast. We'll be talking to civic leaders around the country, from small populations to the very large cities and a lot of mayors and city managers, just folks that are really out there trying to improve their communities looking at challenges that may be coming up and how do they actually solve those so some really neat stuff and excited to share that with everyone. Sounds great, so how can people tune into Gov Gab radio. Yeah, so actually will be slotted underneath the Operate Intelligently Podcast every other week, so every two weeks so you'll see it as a series for Gov Gab radio. So definitely encourage everyone to check it out. I think there'll be some great takeaways from it. Sounds awesome. Looking forward to it. Thanks, Brian.

Brian:

So how does somebody get started with GIS? In general, I'm assuming like, a lot of times people probably have data and it's just like, how did how would they leverage that data?

Anna:

Yeah, so if they've already got existing data that they've been maybe building up over several years, or that someone created maybe 10 years ago, and they're ready to pick back up. And the best thing for them is going to be to just go ahead and just dive into that data if they need help, kind of getting to that point and getting started. There are so many resources online for GIS, you can actually just type into Google how to get started with GIS. And tons of YouTube videos will come on websites, all kinds of resources. So getting started that way is an option. There's always the Esri route as well. They've got tons of resources on their website.

Brian:

Yeah. Can you tell me who is Esri?

Anna:

Yeah, we are as partners. And Esri has a GIS platform. Arc Desktop is one of them that our clients can purchase. And it is a way to manage, edit, store your GIS data. So tons of resources online of how to use that software.

Chuck:

I add to that also, it's really important to figure out, you know, what's the outcome you're looking for from it. So I've seen people that hear about GIS. They get really excited about GIS, they don't spend a lot of money getting GIS going a program system, a consultant, and then great, I've got some data and they're not necessarily getting a lot out of that data. So instead, what I liked, it was some of your questions, Brian, is really related to operations management. Think about you, what does this do? How's it going improve my operations? We've talked about that some, I think really having an operational first, how is this going to enhance it? How's it going to make all my employees more efficient? How can we have some cost savings? How can I have that institutional knowledge really important? And then along with that the world of GIS is huge. I'm like to say it's me, it was big data before big data, where do you start moving forward, the GIS it can be intimidating because people you look around and we're in a studio right now. And when I look around, I think about all the things that could be a facility GIS. So I've got the room, I've got the the flooring, I've got furniture, I guess, lighting fixtures, I've got switches, doors, all of those potentially could be pulled in as assets into a GIS system. But all those which ones are important word, I want to take the time and effort Where do I want to get started, maybe it is the case where, you know, energy management is something that's important. I want to start with, with the lighting, maybe it's a little bit broader, where, you know, the HVAC system of the building is where I want to get started. So maybe we start with mapping that first. And then as that shows its value, people are utilizing it, you'll find kind of a groundswell of people asking for more. So it goes from that's great for HVAC, it's great for aligning but you know, I need to look at some space management perhaps replacing the flooring knowing some square footage is knowing what type of offerings in each room what's the requirements for each room has the flooring in the studios me very different than what's in a bathroom or food services area. So having all that data, we can start to build that out over time. One point I'd like to just emphasize is it doesn't have to be done all at once.

Brian:

Yeah. I think with any data projects, and I had the same challenge sometimes with say, pulling in a lot of online data, there's huge amount it can get overwhelming. So I agree, you have to really start off small and say well, what are the one or two questions you want to know first and let's let's work on that because during that process. Yeah, you kind of work through some kinks you start asking the questions you start clarifying maybe how you're going to categorize things or what's really important what's maybe important but you have to wait till later date to really tackle but I think coming out of that exercise you really get you know that nice prioritization with what you said like a couple quick wins that you can show people like, here's the value in this, even if it's not even a hard savings to begin with, but you've identified where you can have a hard savings down the road.

Chuck:

Right. And one of the things that's really helpful now, that used to not always be as readily available is what we would call base data. So it's kind of what your operational data, what's sit on top of it. There was a time when that was, you know, just a blank sheet of paper your day was be essentially a blank surface. And you didn't have, you know, that sense of real-world context, perhaps to it. Whereas now through vendors, like every Google, we have great satellite imagery available. We have street maps, typographic maps, other items where when you put the GIS data on there, you really do get that real-world context.

Commercial: Do you enjoy the Operate Intelligently Podcast? If so, go to iTunes, and give us a review. We'd love to hear from you.

Brian:

So where do you see GIS kind of going in the future? I mean, like you said, there's so much out there. What are a couple things that you're seeing that are going to come around the corner?

Anna:

Yes. So I feel like that the possibilities are endless for where we're headed with GIS. I know right now, some of the options of things there's to be able to see. So you have utility data, especially pipes, and whatnot, you can see those in 3D, instead of just a flat surface on a map. So you're really able to locate where these pipes are, know where you need to get your work done. And just having that 3D visualization is great.

Chuck:

So I saw some things some workers were using. I think it's called augmented reality out in the field. Can you tell us a little bit more about that, Anna?

Anna:

Yeah. So basically, they can put on the goggles, and they'll be able to see the data right there. And in 3D. 

Brian:

Yeah, we talked about that on a recent episode with Paul LaChance talking about exponential technologies. And he gave similar examples, more so if a worker had to go up on like, a ladder and work on like, say, an AC unit. But the subject matter expert couldn't do that he was able to talk through, you know, have something like Google Glasses there and walk them through the process, make sure they had everything the right tools and inception. So it's really neat stuff.

Chuck:

Right. And as Anna was saying, with those, you can actually see that model information right there superimposed with me what you're saying in with realize. And so underground features, again, those pipes and other things, it's like you're literally seeing through the earth and combining with that someone back in the office can see that as well. So yeah, it's really, really cool technology. Some other things that we're seeing is just historically that GIS has been maybe confused a little bit with the concept of GPS, which is the global positioning satellite system we have, but the two different things very complimentary, and with that GIS historically has been more for things that are outdoors. And, you know, that's changing. So indoor-based GIS is also becoming very powerful. New technologies are happening with Smart Lighting, and other sensors, where when someone is indoors, you can use just like GPS know where you are. So that's opening up a whole new world, as well as with the 3D modeling so that it's not just a flat earth, you know, we have that vertical component as well. So, we like a topographical map. Yeah, it's being used quite a bit and retail right now. So a lot of people maybe not realize it, but your personal cell phone unless you make some certain settings changes, you know, people can ping off of that. And even if they're not going into your phone, they know there's a phone there. Yeah, so retail, or as soon as you walk in, has the ability to know where people are. Yeah, maybe not there to chew. But people are there and so they can analyze traffic patterns, there's more know where to position merchandise for highest visibility, and then start making experiments on how to change that, etc. So really bringing that that GIS indoors and making it more ubiquitous, so it's everywhere. I will be next three to five years. 

Brian:

That's cool. That's some neat technology. So we've talked a lot about technology, but I wanted to ask both of you what your favorite part of GIS is.

Anna:

Yeah. So for me, my favorite part of GIS is I'm a really visual person. So being able to see all the different components that someone might choose to put into a map different GIS layers and being able to analyze it and being able to come to conclusions and help people make decisions is one of my favorite aspects of it is.

Chuck:

Yeah. And for me, much similar to Anna really, it's about you know, helping people having those solutions and really bring out additional insights into how people can make a difference in the organization's from seeing things that never seen before. It's like you're kind of taking some blinders lifting the veil and saying a whole new world that you that was their data always tells a great story. Absolutely. 

Brian:

So I want to thank both of you for joining me today and giving us some information on GIS data and how to use it.

Chuck & Anna:

Awesome. Thanks.for having us. 

Brian:

If you want to learn more about GIS and how it can impact your organization, check out our show notes will have links to some more until next time. I'm Brian McDonald coming to you from Dude Solutions.

Thank you for listening to the Operate Intelligently Podcast produced by Dude Solutions. You can reach us by emailing dspodcast@dudesolutions.com or check us out on the web at dudesolutions.com.

Interested in learning more?

Request a demo Talk to an expert
Back to top