Web Services Put GIS on the Map
Web services enable IT to easily embed powerful geographic information system analysis and mapping capabilities in familiar end-user applications.
Computerworld - For Edens & Avant, which builds and manage shopping centers, location is everything. Building in a neighborhood with the wrong demographics for its retail tenants or where traffic flow or access is poor can lead to disaster, says David Beitz, geographic and marketing information systems manager at the $2.3 billion real estate investment firm. "The cost is tremendous if you build a shopping center somewhere and a major tenant leaves. You're going to lose a lot of money," he says.
To ensure that doesn't happen, Beitz uses geographic information system (GIS) tools and data from Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc. (ESRI) in Redlands, Calif. By creating a geographic map and overlays that plot customer populations and demographics, competing businesses and street and traffic patterns, Beitz can produce a visual report that decision-makers can use. The entire process takes just a few minutes.
Today, Columbia, S.C.-based Edens & Avant purchases the underlying data and then periodically updates it. But Beitz is also experimenting with accessing current data via the Web. Using ESRI's ArcExplorer Java Edition viewer, Beitz can quickly build a map that combines his internal data with the latest street data from the U.S. Census Bureau and toxic waste site data from the Environmental Protection Agency (see image). ESRI offers both sets of data as Web services. "You're not downloading it; you're basically viewing it," Beitz says, so there's no need to use a local copy of that data.
Beitz uses ArcExplorer for initial screening of prospective sites but says he still does in-depth analysis with data purchased for use in-house. "You can't do really good-looking maps [using ArcExplorer]," he says. But that may change as GIS tool vendors, data providers and users gradually make more GIS data and applications available as Web services.
Rapidly evolving support for Web services in GIS is not only changing how analysts access and view maps and data; vendors and analysts say it will also facilitate the integration of GIS functions into a wide range of applications. In so doing, Web services will open up GIS to decision-makers, who will have direct access to some capabilities that are available today only by working with a specialist.
"Historically, geospatial has been seen as something kind of in the basement," says George Moon, chief technology officer at Troy, N.Y.-based MapInfo Corp. Web services can put relevant GIS applications on the end user's desktop by embedding them within familiar applications. "I don't have to understand a proprietary interface to embed code," he says.
A suite of emerging Web services standards from the Open
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- 3 Steps for Enterprise Mobility Success: Strategy, Roadmap and Policy Having a mobile strategy is as essential as having a business plan or mission statement. A mobile strategy communicates to stakeholders, IT and...
- Enterprise Collaboration Strategy An Enterprise Collaboration Strategy will help organizations speed up innovation, better serve customers and quickly pivot to adopt rapidly changing Unified Communications &...
- Riverbed Stingray Application Firewall: Securing Cloud Applications with a Distributed Web Application Firewall Responsibility over IT security is moving away from the network and IT infrastructure and to the application and software architecture itself. IT organizations...
- The MDM advantage: Creating insight from big data To help enterprises create trusted insight as the volume, velocity and variety of data continue to explode, IBM offers several solutions designed to...
- The Software-Defined Data Center: Is your ADC ready? Data center transformation is accelerating beyond virtualization to next-generation cloud architectures and software-defined data centers, bringing new challenges for application performance, scalability and...
- Solving the Big Data Challenge of Sensor Data This webcast will focus on sensor data applications and IBM's differentiated offering to solve the IT challenges of sensor data for better business... All Enterprise Architecture White Papers | Webcasts