Unpacking the top tech tips of 2023

Ta, Mary, and Simon get together for the last time in 2023 and discuss their favourite updates from the past year, and predictions for 2024. They also explore the new features of ArcGIS Pro 3.2, highlighting advancements in 3D technology and the potential for tighter integrations and spatial representation of business data.

“There's a lot that happened on the integration side of things in ArcGIS Enterprise in 2023; custom data feeds, web hooks, and plugins for getting GIS into other products.”

- Mary Murphy


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Mary Murphy - GIS Directions 2
Mary Murphy
Esri Australia, Perth
Experienced GIS and remote sensing specialist
Ta Taneka profile image
Tariro Taneka
Program Manager, User Journeys
Esri Australia, Brisbane
Ta is the designer of the trailblazing ArcMap to ArcGIS Pro Migration and Web GIS enablement programs leading a new breed of GIS adoption specialists.   
Simon Jackson
Simon Jackson
Spatial Technology Strategist
Esri Australia, Melbourne
Leading spatial technology strategist

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    Mary: I like that idea of a single system where I can jump in for reality capture, manage, process, share, extract the information – all under the hood, one place, and it still works with the other tech that I have. So that's essentially what ArcGIS Reality is doing.

    Disclaimer: This podcast is brought to you by the team at Boustead Geospatial productions, in conjunction with our affiliates – Esri Australia, Esri Singapore, Esri Malaysia, and Esri Indonesia. To get your hands on more short, sharp and immediately usable resources, head to the GIS Directions Podcast website, and check out the show notes.

    Ta: Welcome to GIS Directions. I'm Ta Taneka.

    Mary: I'm Mary Murphy.

    Simon: And I'm Simon Jackson.

    Mary: Now, this is a very special episode. It's the last of our current series and it's very nearly holiday o'clock.

    Ta: That's right, Mary. Christmas is just around the corner, so we thought we'd get together before the year's out and bring you our favourite festive tech tips of the past 12 months.

    Mary: Awesome. I'm really looking forward to this. So, Simon, why don't you kick us off with your first top tip or tech update of 2023?

    Simon: Okay. First up, I like it. My tip is essentially around integration. So, I've been doing a fair few projects with system integrators and kind of looking at the various IT systems that are within businesses as well as the GIS.

    And it's kind of opened my eyes a bit into sort of looking at how integrated is your Enterprise GIS and really, the tip I have is to sort of look at, what's the current state of how much data sources your enterprise GIS is connected to? And I'm not just talking about the traditional database and geospatial files, but you know, what else is there within your business that you can tap into?

    Maybe you're using cloud data warehouses like Databricks or Snowflake or looking at Microsoft Fabric and it's OneLake, cause you can tap into those data sources and more often than not, they'll involve location data. The tip is to essentially look at GIS from an integration strategy perspective on what else can it tap into to surface those business data sets into the window of GIS.

    Mary: So there's a lot on that integration side of things this year. I think that's one of those words I've come across quite a lot this year. It's not something new, but actually that strategy towards that integrated approach. So we've seen a lot in that ArcGIS Enterprise world this year. We've seen custom data feeds, web hooks, plugins for getting GIS into other products.

    We've seen those ETL pipelines, and in the words of Wayne, who's not with us today, it may be a good old fashioned database view is all you need, right. So, Enterprise GIS, we're using that as a decision-making tool and the more data that's available in it, the more informed those decisions can be.

    So I think what your tip is looking at that strategy to create that integration and to do it successfully.

    Simon: Perfectly put, Mary. Thank you very much. Yeah, that's my tip!

    Mary: You're welcome!

    Simon: So yeah, Mary, what have you got for a tip for next year?

    Mary: So I have to come up with something else. Oh, okay.

    Um, let's do something else. All right. So, one of my favourite things that I came across this year is of course going to be in the world of imagery. So imagery, imagery, imagery, more specifically reality mapping with ArcGIS Reality.

    So we've seen, we are seeing, uh leaps and bounds in that imagery space across the ArcGIS ecosystem. So as a remote sensing nerd, long may it continue. But one area that, I saw or that I saw in general, a lot of emphasis on this year is that photogrammetry and reality capture side of working with imagery and remotely sensed data.

    Now if you're new to photogrammetry in a nutshell, that's where we're going to extract some 3D information from photographs and then the reality mapping side of things, that's the broader term, so that includes that photogrammetry workflows, working with LiDAR, all that beautiful stuff.

    So I mentioned ArcGIS Reality, I'm sure you guys are familiar with it, but it's a product suite. It's a family of products. And it's one of my favourite things, I suppose, building on what you've kind of pointed out, Simon, is because of a word I came across a lot this year outside of integration was, collaboration or working collaboratively, everything in that space.

    So a lot of that integrated approach, that system of systems approach, saw a lot of that this year. Usually because we want to work more collaboratively. So I like that idea of a single system where I can jump in for reality capture, manage, process, share, extract the information – all under the hood, one place, and it still works with the other tech that I have. So that's essentially what ArcGIS Reality is doing.

    And some of the components that sit under ArcGIS Reality, we might already be familiar with, which is great. We don't have to learn a whole heap of new things. So that's Site Scan for ArcGIS and ArcGIS Drone2Map, which is great, they sit under that. But the two little new things that people might not have seen. So I suppose this is the crux of my top tip is ArcGIS Reality Studio, which is a desktop application. And then ArcGIS Reality for ArcGIS Pro, Ta, your favourite, which is that extension for ArcGIS Pro. So we're really extending those capabilities for the aerial and the satellite imagery, working with them.

    I often get asked, you know, does that mean this is brand spanking new. No, doesn't mean we haven't been able to work with those things up to now, but we're targeting very specific workflows here. Those reality mapping workflows, they're very complex, they need to be very accurate. So especially if we're working with something like ArcGIS Reality Studio, we can now create those photorealistic performant true orthos or DSMs or digital surface models and even 3D meshes. So it's really good if you're someone who's working in mapping and surveying, I don't know if you guys came across AEC this year. There's a lot of it, so that architecture engineering and construction space. So reality mapping is used in a lot of different places.

    And I suppose to wrap up because I could talk about this all day. One of the reasons that it's really cool for me to see that emergent suite of products in this space is that it's all very user driven. It's integrating imagery and GIS workflows. ArcGIS Reality Studio and Reality for Pro, they’re sensor agnostic, which is great.

    It's accelerating that production turnaround time. So if you're like me and you mess it up the first time, you're going to be able to do it again quicker. And it's more usable again for someone like me, who's not, you know, a scripting professional, from a user experience side, I can go in and use these things much better.

    So that's a really, really high-level overview of what I think is my favourite thing this year that I saw. And I do know we'll be talking about that a little bit more in the new year and I'm going to be involved. So that means a lot more in the new year. Sorry about that. So I think I need to wrap it up and pass it to Ta, lucky last, hit us with the year's best tech tip maybe?

    Ta: Just listening to the both of you talk I think my tech tip is going to be heartfelt with a practical tip. So it's really two for one. Alrighty. So this year's GIS day theme was GIS professionals. So we're all GIS professionals here with different skillsets.

    Simon, you talked a lot about smart integration. Mary, you've talked about working collaboratively. And I think to sum it up for me, it's Digital Twins. You know, probably one of my favourite topics, quick recap, Digital Twins, they enable us to create and maintain a living digital record of our environment and living spaces.

    So from the buildings that we're in, to the streets that we walk, to the utilities that we access and use. There's a huge and growing interest in Digital Twins and with so much 3D enabled data and technology available, think integrations here, as Simon said. You know, people are seeing and harnessing 3D capability.

    So they enable us to better depict our current world and to also predict our future world too. So, my top tip, do not wait until you have the ultimate enterprise GIS to start mapping your living space.

    Take that data that you have now and start your living twin journey. Enhance your data with layers and base maps from Living Atlas, from integrated systems as well, those business systems, as Si mentioned. Use additional products like ArcGIS Reality for ArcGIS Pro, so then you start to build a dynamic and constantly updated Digital Twin, which stays relevant.

    Simon: I feel like all three of our tips are kind of related, the integration story is about, you need to connect to as many business data sources as possible, and that includes the imagery. So we've often seen that trend where imagery kind of gets left behind on the SD card and doesn't make its way onto the GIS and that's something that the imagery can fix.

    And that, that all kind of then feeds into, you know, a true Digital Twin essentially needs to have a true representation of all of the business data and all of the imagery products as much information as you can to throw at it. I kind of feel all three of those tips are kind of, very related. A Digital Twin, you know, can't really be a Digital Twin unless you've got all of that data.

    Ta: Absolutely not.

    Mary: Yeah. And I think that's because the tech itself, I think has come on leaps and bounds people are having that space to really think about the strategy. Sit down, think about, what have we got? Where do we want to go? How are we going to do this? That strategy towards that integrated geospatial infrastructure, that gold star that we want to reach, this year we really saw people being able to take the time and do that and some, make some really cool leaps and bounds towards that.

    Simon: If Wayne was here, he'd also be talking about, you know, it's not just about your own data sets, is it? It's about, as you mentioned, Mary, a true IGI is tapping into all of the other various feeds that are out there from the other agencies, and that kind of goes into that collaboration theme as well, that we know Wayne loves a lot.

    Mary: Yeah. We've talked about that a lot this year that idea of that borderless capability, right? Be it the data itself or the infrastructure itself, having the correct integrations for the correct collaboration so that we can get stuff done.

    Ta: And what I love about this is that when we look at your IGI, your Digital Twins, your integrations, your smart collaboration – by consolidating the infrastructure information into a single location and source of truth, then multiple agencies don't have to be contacted to obtain the same information.

    So bit by bit, a little becomes a whole digital world, which I'm really excited about. Okay, in conjunction with tip one, you guys already guessed where I'm going with this. You already know it's ArcGIS Pro. Ready, steady Pro. use it to visualise, analyse, and then share your Digital Twins, maybe even authoritative content to Living Atlas, enable somebody else to keep the digital world updated.

    Now, Pro 3.2 is out. Top three favourite features to enhance your Digital Twin experience. Firstly, you can now generate a schema report of your geo database in Excel, JSON, HTML, or PDF, showing all of your data sets and their properties and relationships and rules. What a dream for Digital Twins, right? You're collaborating working with others. You've got your schema.

    Second thing, you can now create a thematic map series in contrast to other series types. So thematic map series, map frame on each page keeps the same extent and the map data updates instead, which is dope. Last thing,  in local and global scenes, you can now add 3D base maps when your active portal is set to ArcGIS Online.

    So this really enhances your scenes with OpenStreetMap content, which includes 3D buildings and trees and labels. So, can't be a true Digital Twin or a complete one, I should say, without being able to depict the world as it is, like it is.

    Mary: I love that 3D has come on and it is now something that's gone beyond that nice to have to that, I can see the uses of that, to actually this is very useful, very informative, and is really going to help us do things the way we need them done. And is that the last tip of the year?

    Simon: What about predictions? Have you got any predictions for next year?

    Mary: Oh, I knew you'd do it!

    Simon: Mary, what have you got? Remember that this is recorded and we'll probably play it back this time next year.

    Mary: So what do you want to hold me to for next year? Fabulous. Okay. In the world of tech where nothing changes on a dime.

    Um. Okay, so I think next year we're going to see a continuation in that move towards people getting the space and time to really put their geospatial strategies, get them up and running, I suppose, more so than anything else. And that includes all the way up to an IGI or integrated geospatial infrastructure.

    And then the other one I see is, I suppose with imagery in general and everything around the GeoAI space. The knowledge base for that is much broader than it was even 12 months ago, I think it's going to get broader, and I hope it does.

    Simon: It's a good one. Ta, you got any, uh, predictions?

    Ta: From a Digital Twin perspective, I think we're going to see tighter integrations from a strategic level.

    So really from top-down approach to how we are gathering our information and data and how we're representing that. So, if it's part of organisation’s strategy, particularly for spatial data. It's ensuring that it meets all of the key pillars of Digital Twins. So, are we getting the right data to visualise and analyse?

    Do we have the right processes? Are we integrated with the right systems as well? So I think we're going to see organisations using a lot more of their existing business data to then represent their information from a spatial perspective. And secondly, I think we're going to see from the tech aspect of it, a lot more, tighter integrations with those additional systems.

    We saw a whole lot of great partnerships come out of Esri this year, so I think we're going to see more of that in the new year. So, watch this space. Simon, lucky last!

    Simon: Uh, I feel like you've both picked fairly safe ones. I'm just trying to think of a safe one, I guess I could say AI, AI is going to be a thing!

    But, um, I guess a theme that's been definitely happening this year in particular is a lot of people have been integrating Esri technology with things like Databricks and Snowflake, and I know that Microsoft Fabric was released at the Ignite conference from Microsoft a couple of weeks back and there's already kind of capability announced that it'll be going into that with Esri technology similar to how it works with Databricks. And I think that because a lot of our organisations are typically Microsoft shops, that's going to be one to be quite interesting to watch over next year.

    Hopefully that'll be, uh, right or wrong, not sure.

    Mary: 12 months from now, we look back – completely different landscape!

    Simon: Yeah.

    Mary: Well, that was an absolutely fantastic one to end up on between Ta's final tip and our hopefully good predictions for next year.

    Ta: Yeah, I went real safe here. I'm like, there'll be integrations. It's going to happen.

    Simon: All right, so that's it for the final podcast of the year. We've left you with some tips and some predictions. And I've hoped you've enjoyed listening as much as we've enjoyed talking.

    Mary: Yeah. And make sure you keep an eye out for series four, which will be kicking off in the new year.

    We've got some new guest hosts, the hottest of topics, and all the tech tips you could possibly put on a Christmas list.

    Ta: Now, don't forget to head to our website, GISdirectionspodcast.com.au, for all the show notes from this episode and connect with any or all of us through LinkedIn or any of our socials.

    Thank you so much for listening. We have had a fantastic year hosting you all, and we hope you have a fantastic break wherever you're celebrating. We look forward to bringing you more podcast fun in 2024. That sounds so futuristic.

    Mary: 2024. It really does. So, for this year and this series, stay spatial.

    Simon: Until next time.

    Ta: Happy mapping and wrapping.

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are solely those of the hosts and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the Boustead Geospatial Group of companies.

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