In the beginnings of the COVID pandemic, during those first and very uncertain weeks, I was obsessively checking the number of reported cases. The UK government had created a page where we could drill down on case stats on a neighbourhood level, using a postal code to zoom into an area, or zooming out to see counts at a higher level.
The maps were interactive and well-formatted, and the software was called ArcGIS.
Since then, I've learned a little more about what ESRI, the makers of ArcGIS, has built. The company, led by founders Jack Dangermond (whose family used to own a plant nursery and who founded ESRI in the 1970s) and his wife Laura, is the gold standard when it comes to geographic information systems software.
As Jack says, maps aren't just representations of places, but rather rich and multi-layered stories of the world that surrounds us. Maps form the basis of a lot of software that is helping us manage information and resource allocation, not least through CMMS. They are a crowd favourite at government conferences as a result.
ESRI has done a particularly good job of encouraging its partners to build on top of of its maps, and create functionality that appeals to particular niches. The company has a vibrant ecosystem of nearly 1,700 partners as of this writing, with an ever increasing stable of implementation consultants across the globe, as well as applications that integrate with its maps.
But most importantly, the software and the maps it produces are just beautiful. You can really appreciate the care that went into creating it and improving it every day, with tiny little tweaks like allowing you to take a map of Iceland over an edge. And that is just plain awesome!
Geography isn’t just dynamic, it’s a narrative — it shows you a place and tells a story about that place, what’s happening there now, and what will happen next.