5 Reasons to attend the Esri South Africa Business Summit 2017


Have you heard? Esri South Africa is hosting its first ever Business Summit on the 5th of May 2017 in Midrand, Johannesburg.

The main aim of the event is to bring together industry experts, potential GIS users and implementers, Esri SA visionaries for an interactive experience to exchange proven practices and gain actionable intelligence.

This event is the ideal setting for you to gain insights into industry trends and opportunities, realize the greatest value from your GIS technology investment and map GIS into your go-to market strategy for growth.

So as we are getting ready for the 2017 Esri SA Business Summit, we would like to share with you some reasons we think you should join us

  1. Network and build business relationships.
  1. Discover industry best practices from the best in the business.
  1. Gain valuable Industry knowledge, tips and tricks from other GIS implementer’s in the commercial space.
  1. Spend one-on-one time with Esri SA’s professionals and specialists. You will get a chance to talk about opportunities and business needs with our sales team.
  1. Cocktails!

I hope to you see you there 😊

If you are in interested in attending the summit or would like to send a query, please feel free to contact our marketing team: marketing@esri-southafrica.com

ArcGIS Earth is here!

ArcGIS Earth Logo

Version 1 of ArcGIS Earth was officially released mid-January 2016. The application offers functionality to share data in a similar way that Google Earth does.

For Esri customers ArcGIS Earth offers additional value as it makes data viewing in realistic 3D and data sharing possible across the platform – from the desktop, mobile, server or custom developments, the same authoritative data can now be viewed in ArcGIS Earth.

Some advantages of ArcGIS Earth are:

1. Basemaps

ArcGIS Earth offers a choice of 10 global Basemaps ranging from street maps, to terrain and imagery at the click of a button. Simply set the Basemaps to suit the data that is displayed. This means you always have access to high quality, global data that is being constantly updated for you.

ArcGIS Earth screen shot

Multiple datasets from various online or offline sources can be viewed in context of a Basemaps of your choice.


2. Collaboration & Content

If you are an existing Esri client with a Portal (or ArcGIS Online) identity you have full access to your organization’s authoritative content in the form of map and feature services, which means you can do your work quicker and easier than before. Sharing data requires no conversion, saving you time and money.

3. Ownership & Security

With ArcGIS Earth you have the ability to share GIS content that is 100% secure in an existing ArcGIS Online or Portal environment.

  • The level of data access is controlled by your Portal identity. Users can only access data they have been granted access to.
  • When information is added to ArcGIS Earth it remains the property of organisation/person who published it. This is different from other software providers may keep data even after you have removed it.
  • It is not possible to extract or download data from ArcGIS Earth. You can share a view of your data without giving it away. This is great because you can rest assured that your company’s data is safe and secure while using the latest technology to do your work.

4. Save your last session

There are several setting that can be customized. Among them is the possibility to have the Start-up view to continue where you left off. This setting remembers your location, Basemaps and all the other layers that were added during your last session. This can save you time when starting to work each day!

5. Limitations

ArcGIS Earth is great as a free tool for realistic 3D data visualization and sharing data in collaboration with your colleagues and customers. As with all software, there are currently a few limitations:

  • The file based data formats are limited to shp and kmz/kml. If you wish to use data from other Esri sources it must be published to a map or feature service first.
  • Where the symbology of file based features can be changed and the popups are visible, this is not the case for feature and map services. It is not possible to change the symbology or transparency of service layers to view data in context of layers below. It is also not possible to label or set popups for a service layer.

In conclusion

ArcGIS Earth version 1 has many useful features and boasts unrivaled global Basemap content. It is a great way to share your data securely with anyone, any place, anytime. So, have a go! You can download it for free.


Modelling Reality in 3D with ArcGIS – Blog Series

modelling reality - logo

Welcome to 2016! This is going to be a bumper year on the Esri South Africa blog so be sure to keep checking back for new content (or you can subscribe using by clicking the FOLLOW US button on the right).

Following our successful demonstration of CCTV camera placement at the Africa User Conference, we are pleased to introduce a new blogging series that will showcase some new and innovative ideas for leveraging the power of 3D modelling and analysis within the ArcGIS Platform. The entries will be created by our team of 3D experts here at Esri South Africa and will include step by step guides on how to do it yourself.

If you have any specific requests for 3D modelling or analysis scenarios, please drop us a line using the comments below.

The first entry in the series, entitled “Determining Solar Potential for Rooftops using Multipatch Feature Types”, will be available next week!

– Richard

Esri AUC 2015 – the highlights package!

blog auc

The very first Esri Africa User Conference has shut its doors. And what an incredible experience it was for us all! It’s not every day in Africa that you can walk around with over 900 people that actually know about GIS 🙂 I think the best way to sum up the success of the conference is to look at how our colleagues from Esri Inc were taken aback by the enthusiasm, participation and general level of interest in the technology and the science of GIS. Well done to all those who participated and for all the hard work that the organisers put into the event. I have asked my colleagues to help me put together our Top 7 observations from the conference.

1. Education

This was so popular that we had to turn people away from the dedicated Education track due to lack of space! A number of people I spoke to singled out Michael Goodchild’s keynote about GIS as a science as one of the most interesting talks of the week – what an honour it was to see the ‘informal chat’ he had with Mr Dangermond and Michael Gould of Esri. And there was also significant interest at the Education stand in the Expo centre that was promoting the Funda Lula initiative as well the new upcoming Diploma in Geographical Information Science and Technology (GISc & T).

2. App speed dating

Having been an extremely popular item at the User Conference in San Diego this year, Esri South Africa decided to show of our own talents with a uniquely African twist. All for a serious purpose too – understanding the (very wide) range of apps that run on the ArcGIS Platform and what they are geared to do. The video will certainly be played out in our own offices a few times in the years to come! Well done to the ‘apps’ for putting on a great show.

3. Sandbox and 3D printer

People are always interested in toys… While the software demo stands were busy throughout the Expo, it was the educational sandbox and 3D printer that were drawing the most unexpected crowds. If you missed it, the Sandbox is an interactive teaching tool that dynamically projects a contour map onto a box full of sand as you move it around. I saw some new and interesting types of topography being sculpted in there all week! The 3D printer was used for many fun things, but also showing how to turn an abstract map of something like a volcano, into a real, tangible object that you can interact with… Very exciting what we will be doing with this technology in the next few years.

4. Imagery

A sometimes overlooked strength of the ArcGIS Platform is working with imagery. Lots of imagery. Some exciting topics that were covered by Peter Bekker in the Plenary that looked at how you can quickly (!) and easily access petabytes of Landsat data from your basic web browser. You can dynamically adjust the data to show change over time or calculate an NDVI. For more information, have a look at Esri Imagery Services.

5. Free the data

A common area of discussion we had with a number of the delegates was our old friend “data”. Something that came up a few times is how can they engage the public to provide more data – that is, allow the public or clients become active participants in the processes of government and private sector service providers. This is commonly referred to as crowd-sourcing and there are a number of ways of enabling this through the rich apps provided by the ArcGIS Platform (e.g. Survey1-2-3, Collector, etc.). But remember that the tools are only the final piece of the puzzle – first you need to design how this will fit in with your current business processes, who will be the owner of the data, how will it be managed, etc.

The flip side of this coin, is that organisations holding data want to be able to share it more effectively – both with each other – and back to the public. This certainly means that the ArcGIS Open Data initiative is something that will be growing rapidly on Africa in the coming years. For more info, go to ArcGIS Open Data.

6. People!

The final item on our list was… You! I have never seen a closing session quite so full before – this showed to me that everyone (despite their best efforts at the party on Thursday) was keen to squeeze every last drop they could out of the conference. All the technical workshops and training sessions were full; all the paper presentations I went to were very well attended. It was also great to have a good representation from our friends and colleagues in other parts of Africa – I enjoyed some talks about natural resource management in central Africa – and even managed to introduce two experts that are working on the same topic in the same region!

7. Doing it all over again?

Finally, Mr. Dangermond did a pretty good job in helping us decide whether we would be doing this again. Based on some pretty enthusiastic responses from the crowd at the closing plenary, it looks very likely that we will do this all again in 2 years’ time – but nothing is confirmed just yet! The crowd ‘noise-o-meter’ was a little more difficult to read when Jack asked where it should be hosted… but seemed like Cape Town edged it to me? Or was it Durban?

Also, for those of you who would like to review any of the presentations or watch videos of the plenary sessions, they will be made available soon – check back here for details!

– Richard

CTICC Welcomes Esri AUC!

esri auc at cticcOur team has touched down in the Mother City to put the final touches together for the first ever Esri Africa User Conference! There are over 900 people expected to rain down on the Cape Town International Conference Centre this week, coming to hear inspirational talks from industry thought leaders like Jack Dangermond, Michael Goodchild and Jacqueline McGlade. If you are lucky enough to be joining your fellow geo-geeks, we look forward to seeing you in beautiful Cape Town. For those of you that were unable to join, please check back here for a post conference wrap-up of the major technology highlights and talking points.

Happy networking!

– Richard

Esri South Africa releases first of its kind GISc diploma in 2016!

Education PlatformEsri South Africa has been providing training and professional education services for over 25 years. In interacting with this vibrant community of GIS users over the years, it become clear that there was a need for a formal qualification in the application and science of GIS&T.

Through some great collaborations, Esri South Africa is pleased to announce that we are now in the final process of registering a Diploma in Geographical Information Science and Technology (GISc & T). The diploma will be phased in from 2016 and is expected to fill a fundamental qualification gap in the South African geo-information sector

The diploma has been granted conditional accreditation by PLATO, and Esri South Africa is in the process of registering the diploma and modules forming part of the diploma with the Council on Higher Education.

The modules will then be registered with and accredited by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). Esri South are also in process of registering a private higher education institution with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

This course is targeted at candidates who want to pursue a career in the in the geo-information science and technology industry. In this course you will learn how to plan, build and implement a GIS project. The successful candidate should be able to obtain data for the use in a GIS, edit data, analyse data and share results as hardcopy maps or on the web. This diploma incorporates both the theoretical and practical aspects of Geo-information science and technology.

This is a blended learning course incorporating distance learning, compulsory workshops and practical fieldwork.

Please find more information on our website: http://www.esri-southafrica.com/#!diploma-course/c1pdt


Enterprise Exit: Google to Esri

In February 2015 Google Maps celebrated their 10th birthday and a decade of spatially enabling the world. While Google’s ongoing investment in mapping and the beloved street view is assured, they have decided to abandon their enterprise products as a revenue generator.  Following this business decision Google announced that they would no longer support the Google Earth API, Google Earth Enterprise and Google Maps Engine, which will all be discontinued at the end of this year. They have also made Google Earth Pro available for free.

Google has reached out to fellow Californian based mapping company Esri between them they provided a path for Google enterprise customers to transition to Esri software. Esri provides a scalable geo-spatial technology stack that enables individuals to discover, make, use and share maps from any device, at any place, any time.

An overview of Google Maps for Work products and the equivalent Esri products are tabled on a dedicated page that will help businesses to transition from Google technology to Esri. Esri’s web mapping platform and out of the box applications will ensure a smooth transition to this leader in geospatial technology. So, if you have been using google for your business, you will be glad to know that …

You can already move data easily between Google and Esri

For a number of years it was already possible to move data easily between Google to Esri using the existing ArcGIS desktop geoprocessing tools. Available at all license levels there are conversion tools to convert a KML or KMZ file into feature classes and layer files. The layer file maintains the symbology found within the original KML/KMZ file. There is also geoprocessing tools available for the reverse conversion.

Moving to the server and online platform, it is possible create KML from your map and image services in ArcGIS for Server. This process involves authoring maps in ArcGIS for Desktop, publishing the service with KML capabilities enabled, then making the service available for others to view.

But, what about Google Earth?

Esri are in the process of developing ArcGIS Earth. This will be a free, lightweight, installable desktop app that makes viewing 3D maps instant and easy for anyone in the enterprise. It will be similar in functionality and ease of use as Google Earth.

ArcGIS Earth

ArcGIS Earth will support KML/KMZ files, but in addition you can also in the first release view Shapefiles, CSV files, Feature services shared in ArcGIS Online and web layers.

An advantage of this product is that it will be fully integrated with the ArcGIS platform allowing users to take advantage of data already published to ArcGIS Online or Portal for ArcGIS. The launch is planned for the end of 2015.

Welcome to the new Esri South Africa Blog!

Welcome to the Esri South Africa blog.
Welcome to the Esri South Africa blog

I am happy to announce that we are officially launching the new home of the Esri South Africa blog! This site is intended to provide some practical and useful information to our current Esri users and business partners as well as to the wider community. Keep coming back to see what’s new – we are striving to continually add content that addresses the practical side of the ArcGIS technology, from lessons learnt through our own experience in working with the products.

Please feel free to leave comments, queries, and suggestions in the feedback boxes and I encourage you to collaborate with the blog poster – typically, this will be the best person to ask questions about that particular topic.

The blog is also intended to let you get to know the staff at Esri South Africa. We are a diverse bunch of technical (and sometimes crazy!) people and all somehow ended up having a passion for GIS and technology.

Happy reading!

– Richard