School Recycling: Urban Wood Reuse

Teaching kids the importance of nature, recycling, history, and culture is a lofty goal. Perhaps it’s a lesson that could be taught from the comfort of a bench constructed from recycled urban wood sourced from a local DC neighborhood rich in cultural history? This is now possible thanks to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Urban Forestry Division (UFD)’s new initiative called “Urban Wood Reuse: for Schools“. This partnership with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) will provide DC Public Schools and public charter schools with wood products to improve school grounds at no cost.

SymGEO was excited to help the Urban Forestry Division (UFD) develop this initiative by using Esri Hub technology to establish two-way communication between the UFD and DC schools interested in “sitting on a piece of DC History”. The site shares knowledge and products from the UFD while gathering the school’s product ideas and requirements.

The site discusses the benefits of wood reuse, where the wood comes from, and the variety of products available including benches, stumps, or woodchips. It also provides a link to an order form as a convenient and easy way to request wood products.

The order form itself is powered by Esri’s Survey 123 technology and is designed with step-logic where pertinent questions appear based on previous answers.

One of the exciting new aspects of an initiative is the ability for an audience member to sign into a community account and “follow” the initiative. This will grant them access to broadcasts about new events, updates, new product launches, and other useful information. Of course, being able to show which schools are as excited about this new initiative as we are has never been easier!

Talk to our digital platform experts today if your agency or organization is interested in community engagement with the power of Esri Hub Initiatives – SymGEO is here to help!

Downtown: Energize! in ArcNews

SymGEO was honored to have our community engagement pilot project Downtown: Energize! Kentlands featured in the 2019 ArcNews Spring edition!  This premier hard-copy and digital publication by Esri has a circulation of 900,000 industry professionals and is a go-to source for all that is new and innovative in the Esri GIS community.

This wonderfully in-depth article examines the purpose and need of the site, the benefits brought to residents and businesses, and of course, the amazing Esri technology that makes it all possible.

Check it out, and let us know if your community would like to experience the positive power of Downtown: Energize!

DDOT Urban Forestry Division Hub

SymGEO is pleased to announce the launch of the DDOT Urban Forestry Division Hub! This new digital platform is designed to engage and interact with the DC community and provide information about the many services and resources offered by the Urban Forestry Division (UFD) of the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). This digital platform was built using Esri Hub technology, in coordination with DC Open Data and OCTO.

With a long history of caring for the extensive forest canopy in DC, the Urban Forestry group has meticulously assembled data sets and applications to help in their forest management mission and to communicate with a variety of audiences. With the introduction of Esri Hub technology, there is finally a digital platform perfectly designed to tie all the pieces together into a cohesive story. SymGEO was honored to be approached by the Urban Forestry group to help them design, configure and deploy this comprehensive digital solution.

urban forestry intro

“SymGEO is a remarkably flexible and responsive company. They listen carefully to requirements and deftly blend customer vision with technological capabilities.”

– Earl Eutsler, DDOT Urban Forestry Administration, Associate Director / State Forester

The urban forest story begins with a look to the past and introduces the audience to the long history and important role of trees in DC.

history

The story then turns to the impressive variety of trees available for public enjoyment and leverages several applications and digital stories that the urban forestry group has already developed.

canopy

The flagship data set of the Urban Forest group is the Public Tree Map which elegantly displays a tremendous amount of current information about the urban tree canopy. Links are provided to both the map and the underlying data for the community to use and explore.

public tree map

Work orders, permits, inspections, plantings, removals… there’s a lot going on in Urban Forestry! Fortunately, many data sets and reporting mechanisms have been developed to keep track of it all. These have now been shared with the public under one digital roof for a better understanding of agency scope and status.

urban forestry maps

Of course, what fun are statistics if they can’t be updated on the fly as new information is entered into databases behind the scenes?

stats

Finally, links to tools and resources are provided for partners and stakeholders to begin making their own applications and discoveries with DC government data.

tools

Talk to our industry experts if your agency or organization is interested in leveraging the power of Esri Hub – SymGEO is here to help!

Croatian Rail Network

SymGEO is pleased to announce the completion of a project with The World Bank Group that enables valuable interactive insight into the rail transportation system in Croatia. This project started with a series of excel files that detailed rail segment speed, passenger numbers, freight volumes, age of track, and other characteristics.

croatia excel file

SymGEO then used a schematic diagram of the network to build and calibrate a spatially accurate network based on OpenStreetMap rail data and linear referencing of station locations.

croatia network diagram

This newly created spatial data was then hosted in ArcGIS Online and used to configure an Operations Dashboard application. This application was specifically designed to filter and query the data interactively on demand and present summary statistics based on complex queries. This combination of attribute queries, summary statistics, and visual representation now enables report graphics and key decision data to be created on-the-fly by the client.

“This is superb and exactly what the client needed and what I was imagining.”

– World Bank client

If you have complex transportation network data that you’d like to leverage with an intuitive, user-friendly, configurable application, then SymGEO would love to hear from you!

SymGEO Hub in the News

This month we were honored to have Downtown: Energize! featured in two local papers. There has been tremendous energy and enthusiasm swirling around this flagship project from SymGEO, and the technology continues to improve with every update.

lakelands newspaper

Downtown: Energize! features many different components of the ArcGIS technology suite, including Survey123, GeoForm / Collector, Operations Dashboard, Web AppBuilder for the retail locator, and a web scene that uses CityEngine textured models derived from building footprints and Lidar information processed in ArcGIS Pro. These components are then hosted in ArcGIS Online and leveraged using ArcGIS Hub technology.

downtown energize banner

Two local development boards, the Kentlands Downtown Working Group (KDWG) and the One Main Street Initiative (OMSI), took an excited interest in Downtown: Energize! and have commissioned complimentary sites to be built using Hub technology. The commercial real-estate management of the site is especially useful in a fast-paced environment!

kentlands newspaper

“The KDWG was commissioned by the Kentlands board to provide accurate and timely information on the various development efforts going on with our downtown so residents can be better informed and take a more active role in improving our community. We chose the Downtown: Energize! platform developed by SymGEO with its innovative digital mapping because it helps do exactly that.”

– John Ingrassia, Chair, Kentlands Downtown Working Group

“A great commercial district is a huge amenity for our community. Downtown: Energize! is a great digital tool for helping the community achieve the vision for our commercial district. Not only will it help us engage the community to provide flexible two-way dialogue, but it will help us by mapping opportunities where businesses can expand and thrive. This innovative platform will allow us to easily update data, access data and provide data well beyond our community, which provides outreach to businesses looking to expand. Additionally, it is a fun way to empower consumers looking for a place to spend their precious free time to engage with this easy to use tool whether at home or mobile. Working with Kevin at SymGEO has been an amazing experience. He and his team are bringing tremendous innovations and ideas to our team at The One Mainstreet Initiative.”

– Neil Burka, Chair, One Main Street Initiative

“I was so excited when SymGEO came to us with this idea. As a local real estate agent and resident who is deeply engaged in the community, I understand on a personal level how important this spatial data is to get the community engaged and onboard with what’s happening. This platform will make it easy to access the data – especially for folks who, like me, are more visual.”

– Sheena Saydam, Realtor, Keller Williams Capital Properties, Member, Kentlands Downtown Working Group

“Downtown: Energize! as created by Kevin McMaster using the SymGEO platform, is an innovative digital tool that provides mapping of business locations to potential and existing customers in a format that is fun, easy to use, and flexible enough to accept updates and even track current events. It’s a win-win for our community by empowering residents to engage with our local businesses and to energize our downtown!”

– Ingrid L. Fraley, Local Business Owner – Design Services, Inc.

kentlands 3d

If you’d like to join the party with a Downtown: Energize! initiative, let us know as SymGEO is here to help!

Land Area by Zoning

Ever wonder how much land area there is in DC by zoning district or specific zone? Well, wonder no more, as we sliced and diced the data, and created the DC Land Area Explorer by Zoning Type. This application leverages Esri‘s new select by chart category functionality in operations dashboard. Data is kindly provided by our friends at DC Office of Zoning (DCOZ),  the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), and a fabulous basemap by OCTO’s DCGIS team.

Users can select zoning categories or specific zones by clicking on the bars in the charts. This will update the total recorded land area calculation to just the selected zone(s). Alternatively, for really detailed analysis, zooming into the map and using the “select” tool in the map window allows the selection by zoning district, specific zone, or even property boundaries.

Take a look at the DC Land Area Explorer by Zoning Type, and if you have data you’d like sliced, diced, sauteed or… you know who to contact!

Commercial Property Management

Keeping track of who is where, what’s coming soon, square footage available, and when leases are ending can be quite a challenge when hundreds (or thousands!) of properties are involved. Fortunately, GIS is perfectly suited to this task of commercial property management, as it combines space, time, attributes and symbology into one cohesive picture.

For the Kentlands community in Gaithersburg, MD, ArcGIS Online data was used to power an initiative called Downtown: Energize!, that has garnered critical acclaim from residents and business owners alike. This Hub site designed to explore existing retail, gather community ideas, and identify opportunities for commercial business. With almost a hundred commercial properties involved, including several large commercial parcels, the data came in the usual assortment of formats (pdf, GIS, field collection). However, the end result was a cohesive framework designed to be updated and informed by the community it serves through a crowd-sourced GeoForm application.

data updater

geoform

Searching by business name was enabled through a configurable application that is embedded into the Hub site. There is also active development and building reconfiguration occurring in this area, as shown below with the current buildings overlaid on last year’s imagery. This solution provides a one-stop shop for information about current commercial businesses in the area, and a common platform for the community to use.

If your community is ready to get started with a Downtown: Energize! initiative or your business would like to use GIS as a property management tool, let us know as SymGEO is here to help!

Waze Traffic in DC

Waze and Esri recently announced an expanded partnership, giving cities easier access to traffic conditions data and incident reports. Esri also has a traffic layer updated every 5 minutes, with road closure notices and other important information included. By combining these near real-time data sources with the marvels of modern technology, SymGEO is pleased to unveil the DC Traffic Dashboard.

Use the DC Traffic Dashboard to plan your commute, see what’s in store, or enjoy your day of telework that much more! Contact SymGEO for more info or for your own handy-dandy dashboard.

Workflow Automation

I admit, I resisted for years. Workflow automation seemed like too much work to set up, and I always argued that my spatial data challenges were mostly one-off unique situations that weren’t conducive to setting up a workflow. Until one recent day I saw the light… and I blame California.

Perhaps you remember our work to incorporate near real-time remote sensing into crop drought monitoring? Well, it turns out that to keep an application like that up to date, the same process is needed time and again, and so the need for data automation was born into the world of SymGEO. Through automation, data layers and attribute fields are always named the same, and features can be over-written without fear of “something breaking” deep within a configurable application. There is also the added benefit of incorporating the usual workarounds that go into regular behind-the-scenes geospatial work such as calculating areas as acreage, or converting grid values into meaningful text. This saves countless hours of frustration and memory searching down the road when trying to repeat a process.

Needless to say, this does cause a model to expand once all the pieces are bolted on, but Esri’s ModelBuilder allows the easy configuration (and re-configuration) of the model until all works as designed.

workflow automation

This model has been run many times to make sure all products worked as expected, especially during initial configuration. However, the time savings was considerable with workflow automation given the number of steps involved and the dependency on intermediate layers. In hindsight, it seems to be the finding and configuring of the tools that takes time, not the actual running of the tool.

model processing

These work products were used to produce and optimize the Crop Drought Status dashboard, which is now ultra-responsive and designed for use at the county-level.

crop drought status dashboard

If you’d like a second pair of eyes on your data workflow, let us know, as SymGEO is ready to automate with ModelBuilder!

Manage Your Workforce

Do you have a mobile workforce in charge of inspecting, maintaining or interacting with assets? Watering trees, inspecting signs, putting up flyers, or targeted fundraising activities? If so, there is a new technology from Esri called Workforce that has your name all over it.

Beginning with asset data hosted in ArcGIS Online, a series of filters and queries can be used to determine which assets need to be assigned to your workforce. These might be assets over a certain age due for inspection, or locations where an issue has been reported. Assignments are made to named individuals in your ArcGIS organization, and contain information including location, priority level and due dates.

workforce project

The assignments are then pushed to the mobile devices of your workforce, where they accept, navigate to, and complete the assignments. This may entail entering in notes, or taking pictures, and updating the assignment status. This information is sent back to the centralized cloud-based ArcGIS Online database in near real-time in a connected environment, or upon data synchronization if out of cell / wi-fi range.

workforce phones

Back in the office, the workforce administrator can use the information to check worker progress, see current worker status and location, and re-allocate resources if needed. The information is easily aggregated and displayed using a dashboard or configurable web application.

If you’d like a hand getting set up, let us know, and SymGEO will put Workforce to work for you!