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Creating maps for GIS departments

GIS (Geographic Information System) departments often have their hands full when it comes to creating accurate maps and figures. Hundreds of different fields, including urban planning, city government, archaeology, ecology, land surveys, transportation services, conservationists and geologists require GIS specialists to collect, manage, model and analyse geographic and/or spatial data quickly. The end result is an accurate & to scale map or dataset which can be used in a number of ways; for example, by internal departments for land planning or for public consumption online. 

GIS specialists, for the most part, use complex software programs designed to create 2D and 3D maps and visualisations. While these softwares are great at visually presenting data, the manual process of collecting, comparing and analysing datasets is still a brutal slog. Double-handling data and interpreting onsite maps to create high-end professional reports means a lot of information is lost in translation, reducing the effectiveness of the data being presented. The process of conveying requirements to the GIS team is also time consuming and inefficient.

And, in the end, it’s the numbers that matter most.

The problem with separate software packages.

Working in a specialist discipline such as GIS means operating on software designed for skilled, advanced users. A GIS department will likely be working with other teams and departments to source data and prepare reports, which means trying to find a common software for both parties to talk and update information in. Lack of a common data platform creates a lot of double handing and the possibility for data inaccuracies during data entry and transfer.

So, how do you talk to GIS specialists and convey to them your mapping needs without talking their language?

Creating maps for map specialists.

The easiest way to talk about maps is through maps, but to get one of those you need data points and something to give those points context in terms of location, such as a basemap. This is where Datanest comes in.

Datanest is a series of modules which fit together to cover the entire data reporting journey, from initial onsite data gathering, validation and analysis, to final boardroom presentation. Originally created to service the geotechnical industry, Datanest is quickly becoming a multipurpose and multi-discipline software.

The whole philosophy behind Datanest is adaptability and ease of use. The Gather app can be customised with a drag-and-drop form builder to create new data collection apps that are tailored to collect specific datasets. This means whoever is out collecting information has guidance on what to collect and can quickly generate valuable information. Data can then be evaluated and managed in Hub.

Maps allows the user to import collected data whilst onsite and create or edit maps. Translating this data into a visual map onsite means increasing the accuracy of the information supplied to the GIS department, with specific reference points for a GIS system or specialist to pick up on and use for further advanced GIS analysis.  In the case of a simple location plan, a report ready map can be generated in minutes, and in cases where more complex GIS analysis is required, a draft map with accompanying data can be exported to the GIS team. This process streamlines workflows and enables much clearer communication with the GIS department.

So one map leads to another.

Creating a report - worthy map.

Datanest Maps can also be used as the primary mapping and figure generating tool, as it includes the ability to import basemaps, service layers, site boundaries, plans, images and more. Through Hub and Deliver users can create dynamic infographics and representations of their data.

Making GIS easier for GIS specialists.

Each of the tools within Datanest has its use for helping GIS departments. Collecting and interpreting information within a preset app allows GIS departments to set the parameters for the information they want to collect, meaning they get back more consistent, useful information. 

Being able to funnel data directly into a map allows them to quickly create maps, insights and visual reports, which update automatically as new data pours in. Or, they can connect this information with their own software such as ArcGIS or QGIS, creating more complex maps from the ones generated in Datanest

However Datanest and Maps are used, their purpose is to reduce the time spent gathering raw data and building a coherent GIS-worthy map. All of which allows GIS departments to work faster, more efficiently and cost effectively — a huge upsell in a competitive market. 

Client reactions .

Haigh Workman Ltd, a civil, structural, geotechnical and environmental engineering firm in Kerikeri and Warkworth, New Zealand, were early adopters of Datanest, particularly the Maps function. Using the tool, they’ve found pressure on their team is greatly reduced, allowing them to create accurate and presentable plans that can be used and understood by the entire team.

Catherine Johnson, Senior Environmental Scientist, had this to say about the software;

“Datanest encompasses more than just a drawing tool. We can produce plans and record site features in real time, geographically reference photos, and collaborate from multiple locations. The double handling of site notes has been removed, and the deliverables created are fast, professional and accurate.”

Moving forward with Datanest.

As a cloud-based application, Datanest is all about usability across multiple devices and platforms. As Datanest expands, so will the software’s ability to communicate with other programs through integrations and API’s, offering more intuitive ways to work faster. 

If you’d like to know more about the software or for a demonstration on how Datanest could work alongside your GIS department, you can book an appointment here.