Showing 2 result(s) for tag: web gis

GIS Health Assessment: A new way to think about your system

When we think about the health of our GIS, many of us are used to beginning with the infrastructure. After all, it is what drives the technical performance of your system. The problem with starting at the infrastructure level, though, is that it’s difficult to get a complete picture of which aspects of the GIS are most important to your users.

While the GIS infrastructure is extremely important, not all the resources in your environment are created equal. You might have some layers or services that are used 3-4 times a week, and others that are accessed thousands of times each week. While you want to do all you can to ensure the entire system is performing as it should, there are only so many hours in a day. With an infrastructure-first approach, you’re often unable to hone in on what the most important apps, layers, services, servers, and ArcGIS instances are. 


A new way to think about GIS health

It’s time we flip the traditional infrastructure-first approach and begin thinking about GIS health through the lens of end-user productivity. Your GIS is there to help your users do their jobs, so that’s where your analysis should start.

Whether it’s explicitly or implicitly, you’re going to be measured on the productivity of the users you build apps for, not the response time of a specific server. Without the users, there is no need for the GIS infrastructure.

By starting with what your users are trying to accomplish, you’ll be able to map your key business processes and user flows to the GIS infrastructure and resources that are most important to supporting them. Looking at your GIS from users’ perspectives allows you to better understand how it is being used day-to-day and identify the critical resources needed to support your monitoring and optimization efforts.

With so many moving pieces in your GIS, you don’t have time to treat everything equally.  Focusing your efforts will let you be much more productive and spend more time working on high-value activities.

When we talk about a user-first approach to GIS health, there are two major areas that you need to be considering:

Performance: While closely tied to infrastructure performance, what we mean here is the performance of your end-users. Are they able to do their jobs effectively with the tools and applications you’re building? Are your users taking longer than expected to complete certain tasks?

When these things crop up, a user-first approach will help you target your efforts and fix issues quicker. A good example would be if an application had a poorly performing layer. This would be an infrastructure performance issue, but if you understand what specific layers and services are used in that application, you will know where to look to address the issue.

Usability: If your GIS infrastructure is performing as expected, the next area to examine is usability. Usability is all about whether your applications are configured and designed in a way that makes sense for what your users need to do. Strong infrastructure performance combined with poor usability is still poor performance (remember, performance is about end-user performance, not infrastructure).

An example of how usability can affect performance is when a common tool is not in a prominent location in your app. If it’s difficult to find, users will waste time looking for it, take longer to complete a task by using a different method, or abandon it entirely. This is also true when incorrect layers are loaded by default – users end up wasting time searching for the layers they need.

Completing a user-first health assessment

Once you’ve adopted a user-first approach to GIS health, you’re ready to perform a user-first health assessment. What you’re trying to accomplish is mapping out the business processes and use cases that you manage with your GIS to the specific GIS resources that support them.

First, you’ll want to identify the different user groups that leverage your GIS. By user group, we mean a group of users that have common work patterns and engagement with your applications. This could be a group of people (or one person) with the same task in your head office, or it could be a specific field crew that uses an app on a tablet. The key here is to identify people who use the GIS in similar ways.

We’ve created a checklist to help you perform a health assessment; it’ll help you map what your different user groups need to accomplish to the GIS resources and infrastructure required to support their work.

The checklist contains areas to detail the users and what they need to do, the app(s) they use, the most-used layers, the services the app(s) consume, which ArcGIS products are used and how they’re configured, and the server(s) that support it.

Get your GIS health assessment checklist now  

What to do with your health assessment

Once you’ve completed your GIS health assessment, you can use the information you’ve gathered to proactively monitor the GIS resources that are the most important. Tools like Geocortex Analytics allow you to configure personalized dashboards that provide a snapshot of the resources you want to monitor.

You can also configure alarms and notifications in some systems monitoring tools. Because you know what you need to monitor, you can set thresholds for warning signs of potential issues and have notifications sent to your email.

Next, identify anomalies among your use patterns. If certain users are performing notably better or worse than the average, you can dive into the specifics of how those individuals are using the applications you’ve built. Replicate the superior use patterns and examine the weaker patterns to gauge if there is a potential gap in training or understanding of certain functions.

If you want to learn how all of this is possible with Geocortex Analytics, we’d like the chance to show you! We’ve recently added great new features (including individual user reporting) and made significant improvements to performance and reliability. Get in touch with us using the button below.

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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!