Geocortex at the 2017 Esri User Conference
The Esri User Conference is right around the corner, taking place July 10-14 in beautiful San Diego, California. The Esri UC is our biggest event each year, and this is a particularly special year for Latitude Geographics, as we’ve launched one of our most noteworthy products in years – perhaps in the history of our company: Geocortex Workflow.
Geocortex Workflow 5 builds upon our extremely popular Geocortex Essentials workflow capabilities, and is offered as a standalone product. Geocortex Workflow 5 provides many new benefits, including: an overhauled design experience that makes building and maintaining workflows even more intuitive; the ability to run workflows in an offline environment (if using Geocortex viewers); and richer, more dynamic forms.
And for the first time in the history of Geocortex, you don’t just use our technology alongside Esri; you can leverage the power of Geocortex inside your Esri apps. Workflows authored with Geocortex Workflow 5 can run inside Esri’s Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS as a custom widget that you can acquire via the ArcGIS Marketplace.
Be among the first to explore and try out our next-generation workflow technology at one of our demo stations; we think you’ll be blown away. We’ll also be hosting a related fun activity at our booth (301) for the creative builder in everyone.
There will be many opportunities to see Geocortex Workflow – along with other exciting product enhancements -- in action during your time in San Diego:
- We’ll be in booth #301 all week! Team members from Sales, Partners, Support, Products and more will be available to chat with new and existing Geocortex customers. We will have dedicated pods for you to explore different Geocortex capabilities.
- Our annual Geocortex Technology Update will be taking place on Tuesday, July 11 from 10:30-11:30 AM in room 12 of the San Diego Convention Center. Join us to learn about key product developments, our product roadmap, and discuss our strategy with Esri’s modern technology.
- We have two dedicated Geocortex demos that will be happening in our booth. These fast-paced, hands-on demonstrations highlight the latest developments in Geocortex technology. Join as at booth #301 on Tuesday, July 11 or Wednesday, July 12 at 5:00 PM.
See you in San Diego!
When is it time to break up with a business process?
Far too often, organizations find themselves tied to inefficient, labor-intensive processes. Whether your end-users are stuck completing mindless and repetitive tasks, or they’re collecting data on paper (only to have to enter it in an archaic system in the office), it can make for a frustrating experience.
With advancements in technology, and GIS in particular, there is no reason to continue following manual, inefficient processes. There are several signs that a business process is just isn’t right for you anymore – see if any of them sound familiar.
End-users are experiencing difficulty
While this may be the most obvious sign that a process isn’t working, it’s often overlooked. When processes are complex or manual in nature, you’ll generally see end-users having difficulty completing their tasks and continually requiring assistance from the GIS department
This can slow down your workforce and bog you down with requests for assistance. One way to improve in this area is by simplifying the end-user experience; providing users with guided interactions makes for a much more pleasing experience and improves end-user success
You’re experiencing data integrity issues
Data integrity is an ongoing challenge in many organizations, and depending on the type of data being used, errors can have significant consequences. In many cases, poor data comes from using paper-based processes that are prone to transcription errors, or from not setting the proper parameters on the data being entered into an application.
At their core, GIS systems are about improving decision making. If your team doesn’t have proper information, they are not making properly informed decisions.
The best way to avoid this is to provide dedicated interfaces for data collection. Most technology will allow you to present only the data you require your field workers to collect, as well as set rules against the data being entered, to ensure it enters the system correctly. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to completely avoid data errors, but following best practices can reduce them significantly.
Your users are spending a lot of time searching for information across disparate systems
Most organizations house important business data across several different systems; there are financial systems, asset management systems, document management systems, business intelligence systems, and many more.
If these systems are not properly integrated, it can become difficult for your end-users to track down all the information they need. It can also waste time and money if your users need to jump between systems to find information.
This pain can be alleviated with proper integrations between systems. Try making all the necessary data – regardless of which system it lives in – available in the application being used to manage a process.
For example, if your end-users need to complete fire inspections on buildings, don’t make them jump to a separate zoning system to collect information about a particular building. Instead, consider integrating the zoning system within the inspection application, and automatically present the necessary zoning info at a stage in the process that makes sense.
You’re struggling to organize and present important information to other departments and stakeholders
One of the most common, and valuable, use-cases of a GIS is conveying information to people so they can make informed decisions. If you find that your users are spending many hours collecting and compiling information into reports, it may be time to revisit the process.
Besides the obvious repetitive, inefficient nature of manually compiling reports, it takes your users away from high-value activities. Labor is expensive and you want to ensure you’re getting the most out of the investments in your team… they’ll be happier doing more fulfilling work, too!
It all comes back to decision making – if people don’t have the information they need, when they need it, and in an easy-to-interpret format, they won’t be making properly informed decisions.
When building out processes, it’s important to start with the end in mind. Consider GIS technology that allows you to auto-generate reports in different templates. Start with a vision for the report you want in mind, then tailor data collection activities based on your goals.
So, it’s time to break up - what do you do now?
If your organization is experiencing any of the challenges described above, chances are it’s time to break up with your business process(es). But that’s a big decision to make, so what do you do next?
A good start is to shadow the people responsible for completing a particular process (if it’s not you). If you’re in the office supporting a process for a different department, you may not get a full sense of everything that’s involved. It’s good to get in the trenches with your staff and really get an understanding of what it is they have to do to complete their work.
You can also try drawing your workflow out on paper, from end to end. By thinking critically about the entire flow of a process you’re able to identify areas that are ripe for improvement. We often get so tied up in the day-to-day demands of our jobs that we miss tasks that are repetitive or unnecessary. There may be steps that can be automated with the right technology, or removed entirely. Until you see the full picture, it’s difficult to determine where to adjust.
Work Smarter with Geocortex Essentials 4.7
We’re pleased to share that Geocortex Essentials 4.7 – alongside Geocortex Viewer for HTML5 2.8 and Geocortex Mobile App Framework (GMAF) 2.2 – are now available for download in the Geocortex Support Center.
Packed with tons of new features, these releases help customers improve communication, stay organized and take advantage of enhanced visualization options.
Solving Communication Challenges Spatially with Geocortex Collaboration
Communication is an ongoing – and often the most identified – challenge in many organizations, particularly when working with distributed workforces and/or field workers. In some industries, such as public safety, being able to communicate effectively is critical and can save lives and protect critical infrastructure.
Available out-of-the-box with Geocortex Viewer for HTML5 2.8, Geocortex Collaboration is a set of map-based collaboration tools aimed at streamlining how people interact through their GIS. Users can share messages, pictures and mark-up about the map in real-time, directly in your Geocortex Viewer for HTML5 applications.
You can also review how Geocortex Collaboration conversations unfolded with time slider playback. You don’t just see the result; you see how you got there so you can learn from successes and failures.
A good use case for time slider playback is emergency operations center (EOC) practice exercises; many EOCs simulate emergencies periodically to help them prepare for the real thing. By using Geocortex Collaboration for these exercises, the EOC can review how the emergency response unfolded and identify areas that are ripe for improvement. Strong emergency responses can mean the difference between life and death, so EOCs are always looking for ways to improve their responses.
The Power of Groups
Returned results are now grouped by layer, keeping everything organized and allowing you to perform additional actions on each discrete collection of results.
GIS is all about conveying information to people to help them make decisions, and we feel that these improvements to results will help you present information to your users in a way that’s intuitive and easy to interpret.
Feature Highlighting Enhancements
You can now see the extent of your selected features and easily associate individual features with your results list through improved feature highlighting and push-pin interactions. This has been one of the most sought after features in recent months, and we’re excited to deliver it with Geocortex Viewer for HTML5 2.8!
While these are some of the more prominent additions, the releases include a wide array of powerful new features. To learn about everything that’s included, or to download the new versions, please visit the product release page.
Haven’t upgraded to ArcGIS 10.5 yet? We recommend timing these upgrades together, and our ArcGIS Implementation Services team is here to help get you there!
You have a GIS. Have you connected your business processes to it?
Historically, GIS has been a system of record for many organizations, and the ability to complete any meaningful analysis lived within the GIS department. Mapping software has recently become more accessible and easy to use, and we’ve seen GIS evolve into a system of engagement and insight.
Did you know you can take your GIS even further, and use it to streamline many of your key (and often annoyingly manual) business processes?
Simplify end-user experiences with automated, repeatable tasks
Many of your end-users’ common interactions with your applications can be automated and significantly simplified. Common tasks that can be automated include:
- Data collection: Paper-based data collection -- particularly for users in the field – is still a common process for many organizations; modern GIS tools allow data to be collected seamlessly through easy-to-configure forms. Providing fields for only the information you need simplifies the experience and improves data quality.
- Visual analysis: There are many examples of visual analysis that, if not automated, would be incredibly laborious and difficult for a user to complete. For example, if a water utility needs to shut down a valve, they can quickly run an analysis inside their mapping application that shows them all the water supply sources that the shutdown will affect. To complete this manually would take many hours, and becomes increasingly costly for everyone involved.
- Reporting: When work is complete, there’s often a need to compile all the necessary information into a report; this can happen manually (and usually involves some combination of photocopying and scanning). This can be simplified with web mapping software: by pre-determining report templates, you can automatically compile the required data into a summary report.
Take charge and guide your end-users
Your end-users don’t need a set of complex GIS tools; they only want to see what is required to complete the task at hand. Automating repeatable tasks is one way to simplify the experience for your users, but there are additional steps you can take to improve your business processes.
- Guided interactions: Walking your users through the processes they need to complete increases the likelihood of success, and can reduce frustration. Only show them what they need, when they need it. A great example of guided interactions is walking the public through permit applications. Many local governments offer mapping applications where residents can submit applications online, and by guiding the public through the process, you ensure that you get the right information and that the user understands what is required of them.
- Dedicated interfaces: Offer your end-users dedicated, task-based interfaces; it reduces clutter and allows them to complete their jobs more efficiently.
- Pre-populate key fields: If your users are collecting data through the application, don’t make them complete fields that you’re able to pre-populate automatically. Fields such as who’s running the task, or what time it is, can be populated based on information that already lives in the application.
Validate data intelligently
Data integrity is an ongoing challenge for many organizations, and fixing poor data can eat up precious time. Luckily, there are approaches you can use to ensure quality data.
- Real-time validation: If your users are entering data into the application, notify them instantly if the data is incorrect. Being allowed to enter incorrect data throughout a form – only to have to go back and fix it later – can make for a frustrating experience. For example, a field worker may be completing a water meter install: if they enter the model number of the meter into the application, they can be automatically notified if it’s the wrong meter, or if there’s a duplicate meter number already in use. It saves them from installing the meter, only to find out later that it needs to be replaced.
- Rules-based validation: If you need data to be displayed in a specific format, building formatting requirements at the outset will save you – and your end-user – needless frustration. Rules-based validation allows you to provide instant feedback if a user tries to enter data in an incorrect format. An example of this that we’re all used to is password requirements. How many times have you tried to create a password for a new system, and are prompted that the password requires a capital letter, a number, and a special character? That’s rules-based validation.
Spreading the word in your organization
You can greatly improve the experience for your end-users and increase adoption of your mapping applications. For many, GIS is a foreign concept, but with a few simple tactics you can put powerful tools in the hands of your employees that are simple and intuitive to use.
Now that you know what it means to streamline business processes with GIS, it’s up to you to share this knowledge in your organization.
Why should anyone else care? At the end of the day, it all comes down to efficiency gains, consistency, and ROI. If your organization is following paper-based processes or battling with data integrity, it’s costing you time and money. By automating repeatable tasks and taking steps to ensure the correct data is collected, we’ve seen organizations save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in operating costs.
Bay Area Rapid Transit: Improving Efficiency and Simplifying Critical Business Processes
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is a public transportation system serving four counties in the San Francisco Bay Area; their rapid transit system operates 46 stations across 112 miles of track, with an estimated average ridership in 2016 of 433,000 trips per weekday, and close to 129 million trips for the entire year.
For more than four decades, BART has been an efficient and reliable way for San Francisco’s Bay Area Residents to commute: what began as a futuristic dream in 1972 has grown to be a vital part of the regional culture and economy.
A major challenge BART faced was how to manage the ongoing need for track maintenance and repairs. They were following a paper-based system, which was inefficient and labor intensive. Each time the track had to undergo maintenance, Track Allocation staff had to complete and submit a detailed paper form, which took more than half an hour to complete and often had transcription errors.
They were able to solve this problem with a Geocortex application called the Track Allocation System (TAS) that leverages Geocortex Workflow and Geocortex Reporting technology. Track Allocation staff can now simply draw a box on the map to select the area and assets where the work needs to occur, and the workflow running in the back-end automatically populates a Track Allocation Request Form.
A process that used to take more than 30 minutes now takes a matter of seconds to complete. The TAS was implemented in March 2016 and already has a user base of more than 160 employees, who have recorded more than 7,000 track allocation requests.
Geocortex at the 2017 Esri Petroleum GIS Conference
It’s the beginning of April, which means we’re gearing up for another Esri Petroleum GIS Conference. While the preparation is intense and the week is going to be busy, it’s the conference I look forward to most each year! From reconnecting with colleagues and meeting new people, to seeing how the industry responds and adapts to ongoing change – to hearing what Esri will showcase at this year’s conference – I get more and more excited each year. As we gear up for the event I thought I’d offer a couple of predictions, opportunities to connect with us at the conference, and a request.
Prediction #1: The plenary session will provide thought-provoking and compelling stories that will further drive many operators to consider how they can advance their investments in GIS.
The plenary session always impresses me: from the speakers to the demonstrations, it is consistently a well-executed presentation of knowledge and insight into the industry and how spatial technology augments petroleum operations.
In 2016, for example, Scott Sitzman presented on how PUG is driving a methodology of industry standardized processes to get jobs done, while Howard Energy provided visibility into how their organization is shifting by embracing GIS. Esri presents thought-provoking content, geared to the petroleum industry, that isn’t available at the other GIS and technology conferences throughout the year.
Prediction #2: The value of identities has been realized, and the speed of adoption will continue to grow.
The plenary is a method of recapping what the industry has accomplished, as well as laying the foundation for where the industry is going. The last few years have seen the rise of ArcGIS Online and the modern ArcGIS platform, showing how GIS has grown from “make me a map” to an ecosystem of self-discovery. Incorporating the power of where has significantly improved the decisions that are made. The industry is realizing benefits of shifting from a system of record to a system of insight, enabling users to have access to effective decision making tools anywhere, anytime, and on any device.
Where to connect with the Geocortex Energy team in Houston
Our team will be at booth #812 throughout the week and we encourage you to come say hi! You’re the reason the team attends the conference, and we are excited to see what you have been doing and hear about your successes.
This is a great chance to get a look at how we’re embracing the identity model, how we can help your organization easily adopt it, and how we’re working to help energy organizations transform how people engage with spatial data throughout their organizations.
We’ll also be highlighting the solutions we’re building for the petroleum industry, how Geocortex Essentials is evolving to next-generation tools, and how we can assist your organization in rapidly deploying useful applications with little or no code.
Presentations you won’t want to miss
In looking through the conference agenda, many interesting topics piqued my interest. Seeing how companies are solving problems through points, lines, and polygons continues to amaze me!
These presentations reinforce my theory that organizations are not only embracing the web GIS pattern; they are enhancing decision making throughout their organizations.
On Thursday, April 13 there are two presentations showcasing Geocortex that we think you should add to your list.
- 9:30 AM in Ballroom C: Anthony Herman will be presenting how Geocortex Mobile App Framework has facilitated inspections – the solution leverages APR, UPDM and the Esri identity model. I also heard a rumor that Anthony has a cool co-presenter.
- 1:30 PM in Room 310: David LaGorce from ConocoPhillips will be presenting on an integration between ArcGIS, Geocortex, and the Quorum suite. I’ve seen a similar presentation before, and it’s a good one!
A simple request
We are eager to hear your thoughts and opinions from the conference. After all, you are the ones that implement ideas and use them to solve business challenges. A good idea is only a good idea until it helps someone improve an internal process, or make operations safer.
Things we’d like to hear from you:
- What was your favorite solution presented at the conference? Why?
- How do you think this will improve your business?
- What is the current challenge this will help you overcome? And how?
Following the conference, I’ll summarize the event from my perspective, and (with proper permission) highlight some of the compelling insight we’ve gained from listening to you.
We are looking forward to seeing all of you at the conference - thanks in advance for coming by!
Introducing the Geocortex Energy team
For over half a decade, more than 120 oil & gas companies and pipeline operators have implemented Geocortex Essentials; our intuitive web mapping solution helps them automate and streamline business processes, and they leverage its framework to integrate spatial data with other critical business systems. Our team has supported the unique demands of energy organizations by tailoring their implementations through professional services and product development, extending the core Geocortex Essentials suite.
The last five years have been an exciting and transformative time for Latitude Geographics, for our clients, and for the industry. Through this time, a few notable things have happened:
- Geocortex implementations have been proven, and these implementations are providing substantial value and benefits to the organization. Whether it be processes that have been streamlined and simplified through Geocortex Workflow technology, the ease of administration of the ecosystem of sites organizations apply, or the intuitive interface of Geocortex, operators have been able grow the number of users through the organization. Because of this, our solutions have become more deeply embedded, and are becoming crucial decision making tools, saving some customers hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
- The global oil & gas economy has forced energy organizations to be more efficient and uncover new ways to use the systems and tools they already have in place. Due to the rapid development nature, ease of implementation, and scalability of Geocortex technology, many organizations are finding they can operate more efficiently through their investment in Geocortex.
- Client implementations have matured, the user-base has grown, and advanced users are looking to extend Geocortex with distinct and powerful functionality. Whether it’s integration with asset management, work order management, or other key business systems, Geocortex is being pushed further to do more.
- As we have worked through these advancements with our clients, our subject matter expertise has expanded significantly. Whether the expertise has grown from the work we have done alongside our clients, or through hiring individuals with industry experience, we have developed a deep understanding of the complexities of industry data standards and regulatory requirements. This positions us to provide far better advice and guidance to our customers.
Introducing the Geocortex Energy team
In response to the rapid adoption of Geocortex, the ever-changing industry landscape, and a desire to better serve our customers, we are excited to introduce you to our dedicated Geocortex Energy team! We are focused on leveraging industry and client experience, coupled with the Geocortex framework, to build solutions and services that will continue to redefine how energy users engage with spatial data.
The Geocortex Energy team is comprised of two groups: Business Development and Solutions. Our Business Development team, Rob Lenarcic and Quinn Abbey (familiar names for many of our clients) continue to drive new business, support our energy customers, ensure continuity in the services we provide, and showcase our newest offerings.
The Solutions team consists of several individuals that continue the tradition of crafting best-in-breed solutions and services - with a dedicated focus on workflows that address the specific challenges of oil & gas organizations. Led by me, Sam Acheson (Energy Solutions Manager), the team also includes Tom Kasmer (Project Manager and Business Analyst), and Software Engineers Yongzhi Zhu, Colin Aspinall, and Christian Morin (our resident Software Architect).
The team has already started collaborating with clients to develop new and exciting technology solutions built with Geocortex, and we can’t wait to show you what we’ve come up with!
In the coming months, we will be sharing more information with you via this blog; if you’d like to hear more about our latest solutions – and learn how the Geocortex Energy team is continuing to help oil & gas organizations – be sure to connect with us at these upcoming 2017 events:
- Esri Petroleum GIS Conference, April 12-13: Houston, TX
- Esri International User Conference, July 10-14: San Diego, CA
- Pipeline Week, October 3-5: Houston, TX
(You can also catch a webinar I recently hosted here.)
Esri's 2017 Partner Conference and DevSummit
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of checking out Esri’s Partner Conference (EPC) and DevSummit in Palm Springs, where Esri shares their plans and technology direction for the year ahead. Latitude Geographics has attended the EPC and DevSummit for the past 13 years; although I have been with Latitude for 16 years, this was the first time I took part. As the lead Business Analyst on our ArcGIS Implementation Services team, it was a particularly great year for me to be there and take in all of the information Esri had to offer.
I took some time to go through my notes from this year’s event, and wanted to share with the Geocortex community what I saw as 2017’s main themes.
Unification of the ArcGIS message
One thing that stood out immediately to me was that the ArcGIS message has consolidated under the umbrella of the new ArcGIS Enterprise terminology (introduced at ArcGIS 10.5). In recent years, I’d heard about individual components of the ArcGIS platform – Portal for ArcGIS, ArcGIS for Server, and the rest of the individual stack components; while all the individual components are still there and still very powerful, the updated messaging around ArcGIS Enterprise has simplified things and brought everything together. Each “piece” feels much more like contributing technologies to a cohesive whole, rather than individual software components.
Maturity of the ArcGIS platform
Related to the unification theme above, there is a noticeable increase in maturity of the complete ArcGIS platform. Some exciting capabilities have started to come into their own over the past year (e.g. ArcGIS Insights and ArcGIS GeoAnalytics Server), and this maturity makes the ArcGIS platform an even more compelling, comprehensive GIS solution. Single-user, high-power desktop GIS isn’t exactly what I’d call a dinosaur just yet, but it’s sure looking grey compared to the new distributed and connected GIS computing paradigm Esri has introduced.
On-premises options for ArcGIS Enterprise
During the DevSummit this year, it seemed to me that there was a heavy focus on on-premises options for ArcGIS Enterprise. ArcGIS Online was still a focus, but I expect that the attention towards on-premises installation, configuration, tuning and management is reflective of the number of organizations that simply need to host their GIS infrastructure themselves. I probably shouldn’t use the term ‘on-premises’ -- quite often ArcGIS Enterprise is best implemented inside Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Azure – ‘self-hosted’ is perhaps better terminology.
Discovering useful tools and tactics
Finally, I must say that so much of the value for me at this year’s Partner Conference and DevSummit was all the bits of information I picked up related to many different areas of the Esri ecosystem. From learning about tools that I wasn’t aware of (like Koop), to valuable brainstorming and UX wireframing techniques, to tips and tricks for working with Geodatabases (hello extracting coded value domains!), this year’s event was a treasure chest of useful nuggets of information.
I can’t wait to see what else Esri has in store for us, and I look forward to working with our customers on more successful ArcGIS and Geocortex implementations as the year continues to unfold!
Geocortex at the 2017 Esri Partner Conference & DevSummit
We are less than a week away from Esri’s annual Partner Conference and DevSummit, taking place March 6-10 in beautiful Palm Springs, California. It’s always a great opportunity to connect with the Esri (and Geocortex!) community.
This year, we are coming to the event with lots of exciting things to share and discuss.
Next-generation Geocortex Workflow
For the last 5+ years, Geocortex Workflow has been one of the most popular capabilities offered with Geocortex Essentials, and we’re pleased to share that later in 2017, you will be able to purchase the next-generation Geocortex Workflow as a standalone product!
For those who aren’t familiar with Geocortex Workflow, it allows you to create simplified, guided interactions for end-users, without programming. Organizations around the world have leveraged Geocortex Workflow to streamline and automate complex business processes… in many cases, this has resulted in significant annual savings.
Geocortex Workflow will also ship with some significant improvements:
- Take your workflows offline: You will be able to run Geocortex Workflow offline in environments with limited or no Internet connectivity – one of the most sought after features in recent years.
- Geocortex inside Esri apps: Esri customers will now be able to harness the power of Geocortex Workflow technology inside Esri’s Web AppBuilder Developer Edition (with more to come soon).
- Efficient, intuitive web-based designer: Geocortex Workflow Designer is undergoing improvements, and will now be web-based to offer a much more intuitive and simplified experience for builders of workflows.
Additional product enhancements:
We also encourage you to come chat with us about the other product enhancements we’ve made over the past few months. It’s been a busy start to 2017 for the Geocortex Product Development team, with no signs of slowing down!
- Accessibility: Are you having trouble meeting Section 508 Standards and Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) compliance? Check out our blog post on the topic and let us help clear up any confusion.
- Integrations: Do you need to integrate 3rd party business systems and data sources? Come see how Geocortex customers are integrating with 3rd party land management, asset management, document management and business intelligence systems!
- Security: Want to apply fine-grained permissions to control access to layers and capabilities within apps? Let us show you how Geocortex simplifies the process, and learn how our technology works with ArcGIS identities.
- Web Reporting and Printing: Do you need a simple way to generate printable reports? Need to print high quality maps in large or unique formats? Swing by and see Geocortex Web Reporting and Printing in action.
Where to find us:
- The Geocortex Technology Update (for Geocortex Business Partners): Paul Salah (Director, Business Development), and Drew Millen (Director, Products) will demonstrate recent product advancements and share a roadmap of the most exciting projects we’re working on. If you’re interested in attending, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The GIS Solutions Expo: We’ll be exhibiting in booth #122 on March 6 from 2:00 – 7:00 PM. Drop by and have a member of the team walk you through Geocortex Essentials and Geocortex Analytics, and explore how we can help you accomplish even more with Esri’s modern ArcGIS technology.
We also have time available for 1-to-1 meetings. If you’d like to schedule some time to connect in Palm Springs, contact us today (email@example.com).
See you soon!
Web maps for everyone: Why you should be paying attention to accessibility
In our daily lives there are things that many of us take for granted, and may not always be available to everyone. Accessibility has become a top-of-mind topic for businesses, government agencies, and developers of technology in recent years – particularly as modern society finds new ways to be more inclusive.
What does accessibility mean on the web?
First published in 1999, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a set of principles -- determined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) -- that lay out how to best make web offerings (including web maps) accessible to everyone, regardless of their level of ability. This means providing alternatives to audio and visual content, providing clear and varying navigation options, and ensuring you are not relying on color and graphics alone.
Accessibility in practice
Many jurisdictions and organizations are legally requiring accessibility support for web offerings; as technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, historic exemptions for web mapping are being eliminated. The Government of Canada has detailed standards on web accessibility, which require all web offerings available externally and internally to conform to the requirements of WCAG 2.0. The Province of Ontario was the first Canadian province to pass a law that improves accessibility in areas that impact the daily lives of people with disabilities.
In January 2017, the United States updated Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 with a new rule that adopts many of WCAG's success criteria. These Section 508 Standards apply to electronic and information technology that is developed, procured, maintained or used by federal agencies, and contain technical criteria specific to various types of technologies.
Additionally, regulators in the United Kingdom, European Union, Australia and Israel require government web offerings to conform to WCAG standards, and we only expect more federal and regional governments around the world to follow suit.
What should you do?
Not only are accessible web offerings mandated in many regions, it’s simply the right thing to do. No group should be excluded from leveraging the amazing power that mapping technology offers.
But how do you do it? Here are a few things to consider as you get started:
- Screen Readers: Screen readers dictate the user interface (UI) text aloud, allowing users to listen to the page instead of reading it. This is an important consideration for serving end-users with limited visibility.
- Keyboard Navigation: Keyboard shortcuts allow end-users to interact with applications using a keyboard instead of a mouse. For many of us, using a mouse is a natural skill, but for end-users with limited motor skills it can be prohibitive.
- High-Contrast Visualization: Color should not be used as the only visual means of conveying information, indicating an action, prompting a response, or distinguishing a visual element.
At Latitude Geographics we’ve been developing out-of-the-box accessibility capabilities since 2015. If you’d like to learn how our Geocortex Essentials product can help you meet your requirements, or would like some help clearing up confusion around existing and emerging regulations, please get in touch.
In January we hosted a 30-minute webinar about accessibility; if you're interested in diving into this topic in-depth you can find the webinar recording here.