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Essnova Receives Certification Under the SBA 8(a) Program

Essnova Receives Certification Under the SBA 8(a) Program

Essnova Receives Certification Under the SBA 8(a) Program

Stennis Space Center, MS – Birmingham, AL-based geospatial firm Essnova, a new member of the Enterprise for Innovative Geospatial Solutions (EIGS) Cluster, announced the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) certified the company’s participation in the 8(a) Business Development program.

“Receiving certification under the SBA 8(a) Program gives our company a great opportunity to continue to develop our business, as well as generate incredible teaming relationships,” said Sridhara Gutti, President & CEO of the firm. “8(a) certification gives us an additional means to successfully compete for government business, which will add to our growth and our ability to bring jobs to our community and beyond.”

The SBA designed the 8(a) program to provide business development assistance to companies owned and managed by socially and economically-disadvantaged individuals. To receive SBA certification, an applicant must: be a small business; be unconditionally owned and controlled by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who are of good character, be citizens of the United States; and must demonstrate potential for success. The certification gives Essnova the opportunity to bid on contracts that are specifically set aside for SBA 8(a) program participants.

“I would like to congratulate Essnova for making it through the rigorous process of certification into the 8(a) program.” States Craig Harvey with EIGS. “The process can take up to a year and ensures that only the highest qualified companies are selected into the program.”

Serving a wide range of commercial clients across the globe, Essnova is rapidly emerging as a market leader for geospatial consulting. A team of GIS professionals founded Essnova in 2005 filling an industry need for an IT consulting firm who could combine deep experience in GIS with a more cost effective approach to project engagements. Essnova is an SBA 8(a) Certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) based in Birmingham, Alabama and is led by a highly qualified and experienced management team. To find out more, please visit www.essnova.com.

About EIGS:

The EIGS cluster, whose geographic region currently encompasses the northern Gulf Coast from the East Texas border to Pensacola, consists of similar and complementary organizations in the geospatial industry sector, including private companies, universities, associations, state agencies, and Federal agencies.  For more information, visit www.magnolia-ba.biz

2015 GIS Operations Survey Results

2015 GIS Operations Survey Results

We’ve compiled the results of our survey. As we looked through the responses and compared them to our experience and the trends in the industry a few important takeaways came to light:

 

  • Almost every organization has some fragmentation in their GIS operating environment. Most organizations use multiple instances of GIS platform and often products from different vendors. We’ve seen this firsthand with some of our customers. In our experience this occurs when disparate groups implement a point solution. The organization ends up with several groups and products haphazardly working to address the organizations needs. Taking a step back and looking strategically across the organization can help to identify an approach to an Enterprise GIS platform. The Enterprise GIS platform should help the organization manage costs related to the upkeep and operation of the separate GIS platforms, as well as improve the communication, productivity and quality of the teams leveraging the platform.
  • By a factor of 2:1 organizations looked to outside technology consultants to assist with their GIS-based projects and maintenance. Of those third party consultants, less than half were certified partners with the GIS product provider. The two primary drivers of this trend are: 1. Cost of Services; 2. Overall Value of Consulting. What we’ve seen is that organizations are looking to reduce their capital expenses related to Technology / IT projects and will choose the lowest cost options that can provide adequate services; or organizations are selecting the consultants that have specific expertise that is closely related to their project needs (e.g. integration with ERP).
  • GIS platforms are increasingly becoming the hub of corporate operational information. As each organization grows in their maturity and experience, the GIS systems are integrated into other business systems and business group’s processes. This is reflected in the spending projections for the next 12-18 months with over 80% expecting the operating expenses to increase or remain at the same level compared to the previous year.
  • Looking at the future for GIS operations, 3 of the 4 significant trends related to the ability to access the information and platform:
    • Moving to a cloud-based GIS platform
    • Increased and direct integration with other business systems
    • Mobilizing the GIS platform for both information access and data capture

 

3 common sense tips for GIS Data Migration projects

3 common sense tips for GIS Data Migration projects

Inevitably there will come a point when an organization will need to migrate their GIS data. The reasons behind the need are numerous. Whether your organization is upgrading the GIS platform, changing platforms (moving from GE Smallworld or Hexagon’s G/Technology to something like ESRI’s ArcGIS or even the open-source QGIS), or the most common reason we see is platform consolidation.

Whatever the reason, a GIS data migration is a substantial effort for an organization. Here are a few common sense tips that will help ease the process:

  1. Interview Stakeholders.

It seems obvious, but it is critically important to talk to the users and the keepers of the data that is about to be moved. Getting data from one place to another can be fairly straightforward; however, getting that data over in a manner that ensures the users will still be able to access the information in manner that allows them to continue to do their job, the other aspect is ensuring that if the data has updates their needs to be mechanisms to maintain the data. Interviewing these stakeholders can help to uncover gaps in project requirements.

  1. Document, document, and do more documentation.

With any project there are a standard set of documents. Those are important and need to be completed. There are many things in a project that can go undocumented. Two critical discussions are around decision-making and operational processes. The documentation of the operational processes should begin with the stakeholder interviews and then expand to include the future design operational process. What does a process look like in production, who should have access, what needs to occur? Having that information captured will ensure buy-in from the user community as well as helping with the change management process.

Project documents also tend to capture the direction of a project in terms of goals and activities, but rarely do they capture the decision making process. Documenting not just the final decision, but also the alternatives and the main reasons behind each can help position the project team to overcome any obstacles later into the project or post production go-live.

  1. Pilot the project.

The biggest detractor against a pilot is the time. Organizations spend significant amounts of time deciding to move forward with a GIS data migration and then will push for a quick turnaround on the actual project. Taking a step back and running a small, but meaningful pilot can help to set proper expectations with the stakeholders and end-users. Running a limited pilot with realistic data and processes can help to identify unforeseen challenges, create community buy-in, and provide valuable data for project timing, resources and level of effort.

As with any major technology project, there are lists and lists of tips and best practices. Taking the time to do some work upfront (interviews, pilots) and taking care to share that information throughout the organization and project team (documentation) will position your GIS data migration project for success.

LIDAR data for fun and games

LIDAR data for fun and games

Most governments (at all levels: municipality, region, county, district, state, federal, etc.) have some form of open or publicly accessible data.  The United Kingdom has made new data available at the request of gamers.

“The aim is to help organisations, businesses, and individuals to do everything from manage forests, discover hidden archaeological features, and even create virtual reality worlds for gaming.”

Some of the data has been available for a couple years, but this month they took a significant step and made available a massive 11 terabyte dataset.  The dataset is available for free through their online portal.

The UK’s Environment Agency states that their hope is that this data serves as a catalyst for new leads and innovation.

Minecraft players have requested our LIDAR data to help them build virtual worlds, the data could be useful to anyone creating realistic 3D worlds.”

Minecraft projects might be a new achievement to list on the resumes and CVs for Geospatial Professionals!

england_minecraft

ESRI’s LGIM is great, but…

ESRI’s LGIM is great, but…

ESRI has long provided ArcGIS for Local Government and with it the Local Government Information Model (or LGIM).  The LGIM is a model based on specific GIS datasets, web services and map components that are commonly used by Governments in their implementations of ArcGIS.

The LGIM is comprehensive.  The team at ESRI have done a stellar job of collecting and packaging the information and making it available to their customers.  The Local Government Information Model comes with a huge array of datasets and classes covering: school boundaries, tax assessment, election districts, emergency operations (police and fire), facilities, streets, addresses, and so much more.

The Local Government Information Model is great, but…

The proverbial elephant in the room, the question that needs to be answered is: “Can your government use it?”

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t going to be straightforward for most governments hoping looking at the LGIM.  If your city/county/state doesn’t have any existing GIS data or systems, then we would very highly recommend starting with LGIM and configuring aspects to suit your situation.

The reality for most governments is far different.  For most organizations, and this is true for governments as well, the adoption of GIS technologies has been sporadic and disparate.  Different groups with different needs select and implement different solutions that specifically address a singular problem.  As time goes on, more demands are made of that solution and more (data, features, functions) are added in an ad-hoc manner.  GIS implementations typically end up being very silo’ed and lack any consistency of operational efficiency.

Over the last couple years concerns around costs combined with the desire to provide quality information in an efficient manner have governments looking to consolidate GIS platforms and data.  It’s impossible to know if the LGIM is a good fit for you until you have a complete understanding of the current state of your GIS infrastructure, systems and data.  Here are a few things to review when evaluating:

  • Any and all GIS systems currently in use.
  • All departments, groups, teams, external systems (including public information portals) connected.
  • Existing datasets and sources of data.
  • Workflow processes for teams who operate the GIS platform.
  • Any current or future needs from the system

Once you’ve performed a thorough assessment and have an understanding of the goals and future state of GIS for your government, then you are able to really evaluate if the LGIM will be a good fit for you.  In our experience, the LGIM is a good starting point.  In most implementations the LGIM will need to be configured to the governments specific needs and the existing data converted and augmented.  The solution is often a hybrid.

At the end of the day, ESRI’s LGIM is a great starting point and offers most governments the flexibility to grow and extend their services and offerings.  Understanding where you are starting from can be as important as deciding how you envision the end state for your government’s GIS, we can help you get there!

Contact us to get started:

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