GIS (Geographic Information Systems) also called geospatial technology is extremely powerful for dealing with location based assets of all types. You’ll find that people working with GIS are passionate about it because of its power and cross domain (we use it for real estate, forestry, ecological services projects in the office and in the field) applicability.

Often GIS is not in the wheelhouse of information technology (IT) professionals focused on networks and information infrastructure. We can facilitate conversations with your IT department (whether in house or external) to understand their requirements around security and access. In fact, you don’t need an IT department to use web/enterprise or desktop GIS.

While there are too many facets of GIS to cover on any single website, we love the chance to share some of our thoughts on the broad values that GIS can provide. Some of these values include:

Traceability for data

Distance over space (land in most cases) is a pretty big variable. This is why some of us now search for local services from a map – we know that how far we’ll have to drive is an important factor on whether go use that service.

Also, much like banks and credit companies use location to spot fraud through inconsistencies, we use location data to make sure field data was captured in the field! We use GPS satellite streams to capture authoritative time and date on events for project accounting purposes – location data is hard to spoof and its incorporation into certain processes is valuable in fleshing out data and accountability (when was work done, how long did it take?) issues that often arise on projects.

Area control

In natural resources, we often deal with the area of land or distances over land. For defensible analysis and normalization (by area) of data, one needs professional geospatial capabilities which account for the curvature of the earth (through what are called coordinate and projection systems). You may be able to draw a land map with a free app on your phone, but chances are that area (e.g. acres) are not going to be that accurate.

Most of the firms we work with cannot accept inaccurate area when that area is used to multiple by a per unit value, or divide into a market value for normalization on a per area unit. An example of this is $/square feet in real estate – one needs to be sure the square feet used are accurate or many related calculations will be off.


A picture really is worth a thousand words since humans can more quickly process spatially represented information. Information on maps are a vital medium for a project’s participants to be on the same page, understand where something is or how much there of something like water or timber. Much like one can look at a map of precipitation radar and instantly know where and when rain will fall – visualization is a very fast way to process information relevant to places you know or projects you’re planning.

Enhanced analytical capabilities for area-based assets

With precise area control, GIS allows the ability to provide insights for land assets. When you know where something is, this can be analyzed in a multitude of ways. An example is a city GIS system: because your parcel falls in a certain zone, the city can tell you when your trash pick up is, what school districts apply and what the closest parks, hospitals and police departments are; if the city changes the school districts, they can do that once to the district map and each parcel is automatically updated through what’s called an “overlay”.

Maybe you need to know the exact amount of timber and acres impacted by a new road, or how much of your landholdings are in streamside riparian areas subject to special management considerations. Maybe you just need to get your hunting stand in the right spot! These type of analysis can be “modeled” before work is done to evaluate impacts and refine plans.


Data use on location-aware devices

When your assets are mapped, those asset maps can be accessed on a location-aware device. This means you can see your location on your phone when you (and your phone) are physically at or in a particular parcel or tract of land. While there are lots of consumer software that can do this sort of thing – we specialize in doing it at a high level of accuracy with the ability to see real-time business information like value or historical records such as treatments or improvements.

As a forestry or natural resources organization, you’re probably not in the technology business (and don’t want to be). What do you say when your tech-savvy staff, which are accustomed to smart devices, request business or project data be visible on their phones? What if they want to update that data in the field? To support modern consumer devices like smartphones, one really needs web based capabilities – which are best met by a cloud strategy.

What’s a cloud strategy actually is, or how to achieve it from where you are now, are common questions especially in organizations that may have limited infrastructure. Commercial pay-as-you-go cloud is a great alternative to buying servers: we can instantly setup powerful capabilities and more affordably than owning equipment at your sites.

We still find that today the term “cloud” scares people – they think it’s complicated or not secure or may they feel they don’t understand it (thus it seems risky). There is a prevailing myth that once in a commercial cloud, you may get locked out of your data. This is mitigated by the use of open software that can enable or disable (based on your privileges) certain data extractions into commonly used formats like a spreadsheet. We also enable cloud data into powerful Data Science tools that allow one to graph and analyze – its your data and you’ll need a right sized tool to extract value from it.

We can take cloud out of the discussion and simply enable the tools that get the job done – once our clients are up and going with the ability to see their content anywhere and from any device, the conversation about how it gone done is in the background. You shouldn’t have to worry about setting up web GIS, enterprise databases or cloud-based servers. We work with you to understand your business needs and set up the tools that best support those needs – our goal is to make things easy.