ArcGIS 10.2 is now available, but what does this mean for the end user? Many Desktop users will enjoy an enhanced, stable platform while others will be amazed by new ArcGIS capabilities, further extending applications and reach. In addition to improvements for Desktop there are new extensions for Server, Mobile developments and Online product enhancements. The 10.2 for Desktop release focuses on quality and performance improvements. It will deliver over 600 resolved software issues, assisting the stability of this release. Additional security, more than 40 new analysis tools, improved 3D functionality, raster enhancements, and many more features are also included. The interface remains the same as 10.1, while the Catalog window includes ArcGIS Online and Portal for ArcGIS access.
As the inaugural winner of the Esri Young Scholars Award for Australia, Rodolfo Espada, won an all-expenses paid trip to present his research project at the 2013 Esri International User Conference. We caught up with Rodolfo following his return to Australia, to get the low-down on a memorable week at the world’s biggest GIS conference.
1. Hi Rodolfo, congratulations on becoming the very first Esri Young Scholar for Australia! How do you feel?
Rodolfo: I feel so excited at being the very first Esri Young Scholar for Australia! I never thought even for a single moment that my research project with a simple beginning would reach this far and earn something big. Certainly, I am embracing this Award with honour and great humility and it will be cherished in my entire Spatial Science career. I would like to dedicate this achievement to my family, my supervisors for the academic support, the Australia Awards – Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship Award for the funding, and Brisbane City Council, Energex, and Queensland Fire and Rescue Service for the datasets. Without their unselfish support, this success will not become a reality. And of course, thank you sincerely Esri Australia for believing in my research project.
Agriculture has made a significant contribution to the shared economic and heritage value that is the ‘Great Australian Outback’, yet concerns over the impacts of climate change, economic uncertainty and foreign ownership have become increasingly prominent in discussions over the future of farming here in Australia. These challenges formed the basis of the inaugural Digital Rural Futures (DRF) conference last week in Armidale, regional New South Wales, home to the National Broadband Network (NBN) and the University of New England (UNE). With the emergence of the digital economy, agriculture has often been left off the agenda at major industry and government gatherings. The DRF conference provided a national platform to bring together farmers, consultants and researchers to discuss the key challenges and opportunities a digitally connected agricultural sector is likely to face. Agriculture plays an important role in Australian Government plans to increase the value of agriculture and food exports by close to 50 per cent by 2025, driven by the growth of Asia on our doorstep.
There are a number of training courses being held in the coming months which are generating significant interest within the Esri user community. We now have the full series of geodatabase courses, designed to teach our clients about the full capability of geodatabases. They include:
- Building Geodatabases – this course covers the basics and is essential for anyone starting out in the geodatabase framework;
- Configuring and Managing the Multiuser Geodatabase – designed to help database managers configure and tune the geodatabase correctly; and,
- Implementing Versioned Workflows in a Multiuser Geodatabase and Distributing Data using Geodatabase Replication – complete the geodatabase training path with these two courses. The latter is one of our newest courses, which covers the Replication framework within ArcSDE.
From a server perspective, Sharing GIS Content on the Web and Site Configuration and Administration offer an introduction and intermediate training path for ArcGIS for Server users. There is also a new ArcGIS mobile course, which has been upgraded for Version 10.1.
These are just some of the training courses we have available. Make sure you visit the Esri Australia training schedule for more details, and if you see a course you’d like to attend but can’t make the times on offer, please register your interest via the Expression of Interest form located on each course description page.
You can also email us at email@example.com to discuss any customised or condensed training for your workplace.
Esri Australia’s Learning and Services Credits Program offers organisations a flexible way to access to the company’s industry-leading GIS training courses and technical advisory services. The Australian Bureau of Statistics is one organisation to take advantage of the program. We asked their Spatial Data Manager Kate Waghorn, how the ABS uses Learning and Services Credits to assist with staff training.
Esri Australia: Hi Kate, thanks for speaking to us. Approximately how long has the ABS been using Learning and Services Credits (L&SC) for?
Kate: We have been using L&SC since April 2012.
EA: Do you predominately use the credits for training, or a mix of training and services? Why?
K: The credits have been used predominantly on scheduled courses, although we have also arranged for an in-house knowledge transfer with an Esri Australia trainer for a specific requirement, and have used the credits to undertake a Health Check to assist us with forward planning during our implementation.
EA: What are the main benefits for the ABS in using this program, compared to paying for one-off courses when needed?
K: It does make administration easier and simpler. Knowing the credits are available has made the decision of whether to send staff on training easier.
EA: How many staff within your team have utilised the credits?
K: We have sent staff from our Canberra Central Office and in a few of our regional offices. Some staff just require an understanding of the basic functionality of the program, whilst others are taking their learning further to understand more specialist subject matter, such as Python programming and the server courses.
EA: Do you find L&SC good value for money? If yes, why?
K: Yes. Because we have undertaken a number of ABS only courses, it has worked out cheaper than sending the same number of people on a scheduled course.
EA: Does the ABS have a formalised professional development program? If so, how does LS&C fit in with the program?
K: Because the ABS is not specifically a “spatial” organisation, our professional development program is more geared to the requirements of the agency – therefore a more statistical framework. Consequently L&SC runs parallel and is separate to the in-house training.
EA: Will you continue to purchase credits? If yes, why?
K: The bulk of our credits have been used to get staff up and running with Esri. Whilst there will always be some requirements to send staff on training courses, we envisage using our L&SC more on consultancy for the immediate future. We will assess our requirement for purchasing further credits at a later date.
EA: Do you have any other comments about the program?
K: As a convenient method of getting staff into training courses, it’s been very useful.
EA: Thanks very much Kate!
The Esri Technical Certification Program recognises qualified individuals who are proficient in best practice GIS software use. Earlier this year Julie Sandow, a GIS Consultant for the West Pilbara Iron Ore Project (WPIOP), became a certified Esri ArcGIS Desktop Professional. We spoke to Julie about the process of becoming certified and how Esri certification can be help job-seekers set themselves apart from the rest.
Esri Australia: Hi Julie, thanks for chatting with us and congratulations on becoming certified! Why did you choose to go down this path? Was it your idea, or did your employer encourage you to become certified?
Julie: The majority of my career has been spent working as a contractor, so my employer as such was not the catalyst, it was my competitive nature and need to be competitive in the job market to get to the interview with the next employer.
EA: Can you take us through the process of becoming certified? What was involved?
J: It’s rather simple because unlike the training that comes through Esri or Esri Australia, this certification is to measure the knowledge you already have rather than going through the process of learning something new and then being tested.
The process involves registering for your exam, paying a fee to sit the test and attending your local Pearson VUE training centre to sit the exam, which is around 90 minutes. Of course there was a bit of study (and panicking) involved and it also took a few weeks to find an appointment time that suited me.
EA: What part of the certification process was most challenging for you?
J: The biggest challenge was waiting for the result. I finished the test and while some questions were very simple, some weren’t, so I was a little unsure if I had done well. The results become available through the Pearsone Vue system a few days after you sit the test, and your certificate and emblems can then be downloaded. Until then though I was rather nervous.
Another challenge is that it isn’t a graded pass, you don’t find out if you’ve passed by one question or if you got full marks, I’d like to think I passed by more than just one question, but who knows.
EA: What part of the certification process did you find most enjoyable?
J: The most enjoyable part would have been putting that emblem on my email. I love telling future employers about it, especially if they have heard about it. It seems a lot of people are curious about the certification without sitting it themselves and almost all of the people who have heard of it say it provides me with an advantage when applying for a job which uses Esri technology.
EA: What are the main benefits for you now as a certified Esri ArcGIS Desktop Professional?
J: When I look for employment opportunities, it offers the employer another filter when hiring a spatial professional. I feel it differentiates the professionals from the users. I like to think it offers a guarantee of a minimum level of understanding for an ‘Esri using’ spatial professional.
It doesn’t change my abilities, it just gives me a way to quantify a level of understanding that I suggest I have. It also helps me to network because as I said previously, people are ‘certification curious’ and don’t mind having a chat if they see the emblem on my emails.
EA: What does a typical day on the WPIOP look like for you?
J: It’s pretty fast and furious, The non-spatial people here are still relatively spatially aware so the demands on the GIS team are continuous. We are huge advocates of data management, which suits me to a tee, however managing the incoming requests and keeping good data management in practice can be tricky but necessary. If we let the ball drop for even a day, the following day would be a nightmare.
To start my day I have a big cup of coffee and take a deep breath and then just go with the flow – drawing on my experience of what can work and what priorities I have and just keep moving forward. Someone once told me that saying “No” wasn’t the way to go. Rather they told me to say “Yes, but…” instead. That holds me in good stead.
EA: Can you describe how the project uses GIS technology to deliver better outcomes?
J: Data management! Two words we all know. The amount of data projects like this have is incredible. With the multiple approvals and versions of data that pass through the GIS team, I can easily say it’s about data management. All good databases need normalising and if WPIOP was a database then the GIS Team offers a pretty thorough normalising effect.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. Well a map speaks volumes and then points a big red arrow. The data we assemble for the project is a data warehouse filled with many maps and many words, and it tells our story in the most complete and succinct way possible.
EA: Finally, do you have any tips for other GIS professionals considering the Esri Technical Certification Program?
J: Yes, ask yourself what you can gain from getting certification, then ask yourself what you would lose by sitting the exam, the gains far outweigh the possible losses. I believe certification was a step forward in the right direction and that it demonstrates a commitment to being a good spatial professional.
EA: Thanks so much Julie!
J: It’s my pleasure.
Esri’s Community Maps Program allows users to share their local content in the Cloud with the global GIS community. The City of Melbourne was the first Australian council to make its spatial data freely available through the Program. We sat down with Esri Australia Senior Consultant Andrew Langdon to learn more about Community Maps, and why local councils might consider taking part.
Esri Australia: Andrew, how significant was the City of Melbourne’s decision to make its spatial data freely available?
Andrew: It’s hugely significant. Melbourne now sits alongside New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and other major cities as one of the first in the world to contribute to a new World Topographical Map, and join the Community Maps Program. From a local perspective, ratepayers – as well as the broader community – can now freely access Melbourne’s spatial data as a basemap, which displays building sites, parcel boundaries, tree locations and other layers.
EA: Can you tell us a bit about the Community Maps Program? What exactly is involved?
A: The Community Maps Program is an Esri initiative that seeks to make local authoritative GIS content more accessible to the community – by developing a suite of multi-scale global basemaps that can be used in a wide variety of applications. As part of the Program, councils can contribute their own basemaps – which are then made freely available to the public through ArcGIS Online. Councils can choose to upload 23 different types of data including trees, building footprints, trails and landmarks.
EA: How do contributors benefit from the Program?
A: Essentially, it’s an easy way for councils to share maps with their stakeholders – whether that’s businesses in their region, or members of the public – as well as the global GIS community. It’s free to contribute, free to access and there are no ongoing infrastructure costs. For example, when it comes to the City of Melbourne, they now have a way to share their spatial information with the community. This has been particularly valuable during major events such as their New Year’s Eve fireworks.
Providing open access to its spatial data also means users can not only view maps, but also create their own customised maps with unprecedented levels of detail. Businesses often have maps on their website of their store locations or the areas they service – and previously, they’ve had to rely on some online base maps that haven’t been regularly updated or verified. By contributing to the Community Maps Program, Melbourne residents and businesses now have open access to an incredibly accurate and verified base map they know they can trust.
EA: Can you tell us about the Local Government Information Model? What role does it play in the Community Maps Program?
A: The Local Government Information Model is a collection of valuable resources created and maintained by Esri for local government GIS users. It is the common data model at the heart of the Community Maps Program, and is where local governments migrate their data for review, before it is imported into a community map, like the World Topographical Map.
EA: In the recently released Local Government Benchmark Study, over 70% of councils indicated they would consider making their spatial data freely available to the broader community. What are the incentives for councils in going down this path?
A: From a community perspective it gives ratepayers ongoing and reliable access to an authoritative and trustworthy resource that’s always available. It encourages information-sharing between councils and their communities. Councils can also reduce their administrative costs by having an accessible, low-cost basemap that can easily be updated.
EA: Thanks Andrew.
My name is Toby Clewett and I use GIS technology for geospatial analysis and modelling at Sunshine Coast Council. Last year, our GIS team captured the interest of our region – when we decided to survey tree heights across the area. At the time, none of us imagined it would lead to the discovery of a new environmental icon: Queensland’s tallest tree.
Dubbed ‘Big Bob’ – in honour of long-serving Sunshine Coast councilor and former mayor Bob Abbot – the 73 metre giant was found hidden in the rugged forest of Conondale National Park, using a combination of GIS and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology.
You can read more about how we made the discovery here – but basically, in addition to finding ‘Big Bob’, we were also able to generate an extremely accurate picture of what Conondale National Park actually looks like – right down to the rocks, shrubs, landslips and former forestry tracks of the bare landscape. The two videos below show a visualisation of LiDAR data from the area:
- Visualisation of Vegetation GIS Mapping using LiDAR; and,
- Vegetation Mapping using LiDAR Point Cloud Data – 3D Visualisation.
However, we wanted to be sure of the accuracy of the method – and after an off-track field trip, we were able to get cold, hard proof that it works!
Late last year, we thought we would put the GIS and LiDAR solution to the test, by conducting a ‘quality assurance’ exercise. Together with my colleagues – Dean Derby and Lee King – we took Julia and David Pennisi (who are two famous Australian tree climbing champions… known as ‘climbing arborists’), out to the tree to climb and measure it!
It was incredible to witness David climbing to within four metres of the highest branch, and then using an aluminium extension pole to hoist a tape measure to the highest branch.
Communicating via CB radio with Lee at the base of the tree, David dropped the tape measure and we were able to establish the height at 72.84 metres – just 6 centimetres different to the 72.90 metres measured by LiDAR.
It was a fun and fascinating exercise – and proved once and for all just how accurate we can be by leveraging GIS and LiDAR technologies to get a clear and detailed picture of the landscape and its features.
If you’re interested in LiDAR technology you might also like to check out my university thesis – ‘Application of LiDAR Technology Mapping for Vegetation Management – A Survey of south-east Queensland’s Professionals’.
Toby Clewett, Geospatial Analyst, Sunshine Coast Council.
I am delighted to see how remote sensing technology has evolved over the years to assist professionals in many disciplines. This technology had its origin in land-based applications but is now widely utilised in several diverse disciplines. Why this change? I think it’s because an average user of spatial information/GIS can now easily integrate often complex and scientific Remote Sensing tools into their spatial/GIS workflow. Remote Sensing education and teaching has played a vital role in this transformation. University academic programs provide the benefit of Remote Sensing technology by offering this subject in a variety of disciplines such as urban and transportation planning, agriculture and forestry, public health, social and environmental sciences and many more. Modern day software tools have assisted users in integrating the scientific information derived from Remote Sensing into their own disciplines, in their own ways. Continue reading
ArcGIS Online is evolving at a rapid pace – there’s no doubt about it. As I was putting my fingers to the keyboard for this final part of a three part series on the December release, Esri announced another major release on 19 March. My plan for the final part of this trilogy was to discuss Task Services – and I will cover that off, in what will now be an overview of the March release. Continue reading