Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Amazon Prime Air (Telegraph)
DHL Drone (CNN.com)

A topic straight from the news, with the UK Government giving permission to Amazon to trial the Amazon Prime Air drones for delivery in the UK. 

Having recently attended an event by the AGI at the Atkins offices in Bristol, I talked to Charlton Bland of Atkins Geomatics & UAV Surveying, who surprisingly made the case for drones' other positive usages. He highlighted the professional qualifications from the UK Civil Aviation Authority needed for a pilot before being able to fly, reducing the safety concerns. Are you aware that a number of companies have been given the permission to fly as close as 5 meters from motorways in certain areas? So its not only Amazon and delivery companies that are being given this freedom by the Government. This is an attempt to create innovation, reduce carbon emissions and making this mobility technology safer for all our benefit.

In terms of other uses, drones allow companies such as Atkins to create 3D models quicker for sites up to 5km2 using imagery data, cutting the time needed to survey sites and reducing H&S risks. Another example, is the use of drones by farmers to spray pesticides on vast areas in order to improve crop health. Drones have  lower flying cost compared to airplanes when used on small to medium sites.

So what does this increase of 'drone fever' mean? I would suggest watching this TedX from 2014, but from my own opinion, this will only create more job opportunities and careers for GIS professionals due to the increasing need of the drones to know their surroundings and scanning for specific points and landmarks. As a result, here will be a new need for data management and route analysis of 'drone highways' for example, needed for urban areas in order to reduce the risk of a drone failure. I hope this has been useful. Please comment with your views about drones.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


I would like to thank OSGeo:UK and the Association for Geographic Information (AGI) for planning the Free Open Source Software (FOSS) UK event and subsidising the student tickets. It gave me the amazing opportunity to volunteer at such an important event, by helping speakers from local councils, consulting companies, developers and more.

The feeling from FOSS4G UK is that open source is on a healthy orientation, with various organisation, enterprises and individuals improving open source software such as QGIS that are becoming ever more favoured against proprietary software. Local councils are moving from proprietary to open software in an attempt to not only save money, but use the software that best suits their needs, at full capacity. It was pleasing to see the seriousness of which the Government Digital Strategy 2016 was discussed and the examination of how the word 'open' was, AGAIN not frequently used in the document. New technology is more often than not, built on open data, therefore the opening of data by local councils and government will only aid economic development. Moreover, the utilisation of the data is as important as the need for publication of open data. It was pleasing to see how the Scottish government is working towards a collective approach to provide Local Authorities and National Parks with easily accessible data across 12 databases. This will help the future collection of data and Local Authorities will receive feedback and support on data improvement. The next step naturally, will be the opening of this data once it is available within agencies as part of the Scottish Government I recommend looking over the abstracts page from FOSS4G to find out about all the speakers and the industries.

It was good to see familiar faces from the Esri UK conference and meet Ordnance Survey employees, hoping it will not be too long until  I am back at the Ordnance Survey HQ in Southampton. I enjoyed the variety in the work of each speaker, introducing me to various applications, plugins and ongoing projects that I have not come across previously. Most importantly, it was the similarity between each speaker using their passion and interests to find answers for problems using open source data and GIS. This has motivated me to start a project using open data which I will document on the blog at every stage. Happy learning!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Attending the FOSS4G UK in Southampton

Between the 14th-16th of June 2016, Southampton hosts the FOSS4G UK, bringing together open source GIS users from all around the world. The two day conference, plus a day at Ordinance Survey's Southampton offices makes this hard to miss out on.

Companies at the event include: Ordinance SurveyGoogle, Esri UK, SCISYS, ThinkWhere, Astun Technology, What3Words and many others. I will be attending the first day of the conference, documenting everything and trying to get a lot of content  online over the next couple of weeks.  If you're interested to go, reply to this post or find me on LinkedIn. Happy learning!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE with Qlik Visual Analytics Tool

So what is Qlik? Qlik is a visual analytics tool that reveals insights into your data,  using a diagrammatic model that is easier to understand and it can be integrated with Esri's platform.

Differentia Consulting put forward a smart business intelligence (BI) dashboard application, that reduces the risk and overall cost of owning business systems. It can help fast track projects and provide you with functional templates that help the adoption of BI. These are big statements, but does it work in practice?

For example, NHS Trusts use Qlik to measure day-to-day activities through the help of metrics. Using real time analysis, individual patients can be looked at. What does this lead to? Patterns can be observed easily. Problems can be identified quicker. According to Differentia Consulting, which I have met at Esri UK Annual Conference, "It delivers valuable and dramatic insights into general financial performance, profit and loss improvements, patient level costing / service line reporting and suppliers – all from one platform, and in minutes, not days".

Qlik can be linked to ArcGIS using an extension object, as portrayed in the video demonstration.
It is a very good analytics tool to ask questions to your data and integrate as many data points as needed in your systems. Hope to look at this in more detail in the future. Happy learning!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Integrating inaccessible data with MarkLogic

D Birkhead (C)
Have you ever found yourself having information stored but not used for day-to-day activities? The above diagram shows how data can be locked in different servers according to their functions. Businesses see this as the cheap alternative, but as they grow they realise that data needs to be easily accessible. MarkLogic's enterprise platform allows data integration to make easy analytics through the use of NoSQL databases, using design and finer control over availability of information.

In US healthcare, MarkLogic has helped a top provider of Speech Understanding Technology, to be able to access patient analytics in order to reduce costs and improve patient care. It allowed better communication with patients and healthcare clients through being able to access their full data capacity. A way of cutting costs is being able to understand patient's needs and the most suitable technology, to be able to provide patients with the appropriate Speech Understanding Technology, the first time round, therefore reducing re-shipping costs and customer service call count.

The JPMorgan Chase giant, used MarkLogic to reduce risks on its 'derivatives' (their riskiest assets), which unlike a normal asset is derived from contracts, business logic, lookup tables and equations. They need weekly and even daily updates to ensure the economic information is correct. Now, JPMorgan is able to have the entire workflow in one process and reduces the breaks in the operations process due to the different file extensions. Moreover no extra coding is necessary for the bank's risk analytics and the regulator can run queries across the data whenever it requests.

These examples may take time to take all in, but it shows the different capabilities of the data integration technology. Everyone, regardless of size or industry, can gain more insights from their data. I have been pleasantly surprised by the variety of businesses that use NoSQL to better their databases and be able to access multiple users through their applications. Hope this was useful. Happy learning!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

GIS for business with HERE

HERE have introduced the new Reality Lens, allowing quick mapping to create spatial databases, measure areas of interest and model in 3D your future planned assets. This can also be valuable for the consumer and the automotive industry, due to being able to input various information in the map as seen on the picture above. Moreover, it can help identify assets within 2cm point accuracy, making any model very accurate.

For the automotive industry, this technology is vital for smart cars to be able to take full advantage of the best possible navigation. This technology in return, creates a positive customer experience and contributes to the local economy, through allowing consumers to identify points of interest in the area and even possibly use the car navigation system as a device to advertise places to visit. I could see the usefulness of this technology to be able to identify the customer ratings of a restaurant instantaneously through e-glasses through the help of open data sources.

A major theme from the conference was the way that GIS technology is moving towards the 'sharing capability', hearing it from Esri UK's Managing Director Stuart Bonthrone. Seeing the depth of the applications that HERE are creating, with one of the company focuses being on assessment and insurance, the information gathered from Reality Lens can help businesses with their real estate valuation, property tax assessment and flood insurance estimation. But to not forget the usefulness of Reality Lens in areas such as engineering and planning, public safety, being able to capture data in the morning and be able to work on it by the afternoon.

My personal favourite from the presentation by HERE on 3D Capturing was the availability to collect and analyse advertising board placement and using the line of sight information to not only best position advertising boards, but know the locations to charge a premium for. Keep an eye on 3D modelling next time you encounter a problem and possibly think about how this technology could help you collect data and then analyse it. Happy learning! 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Attending the Esri UK Annual Conference 2016

This year's biggest GIS conference in the UK had the tagline 'Lighting Up the Enterprise', which is something that can be clearly seen in Esri's new product development. The systems are more reliable than ever, you can focus more on the content rather than reliability.

I have seen GIS put to use in so many different industries and projects than I could have ever imagined. From using Esri products to plan the future transportation needs of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to using elevation satellite imagery (LIDAR), to be able to identify trees that could damage the National Grid's electricity network through their fall.

From the business side, Esri is investing heavily in creating the most user friendly GIS systems on the market through the successful introduction of the ArcGIS Pro. Moreover, the introduction of Story Maps has helped NHS Hospitals to understand data and present it in a user friendly format. The example of businesses using GIS to better their operations, minimising cost and risk is ever growing. Businesses are able to move from hard to analyse spreadsheet information, to something visual that their staff could use to their full advantage.

There has never been a better time to work with GIS. Watch this space for more case study examples from exhibitors at the conference.