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Article Examples

GIS Perceptions – Changing Views and Changing Data

GIS is a combination of hardware software systems used to capture, store manipulate and analyze a huge variety of spatially enabled data (objects tied to and specific location on the earth). Many companies and organizations sit on terabytes and terabytes of tabular data without a way of understanding and linking data together. By utilizing GIS data tools, we can visualize data in a spatial environment utilizing math and scientific approaches to better understand the trends and spatial relevance between different types of data.

The web and the digital age has grown at a huge rate over the past 10 years changing the industry of mapping and visualizing information. This growth is evident through our ability to consume, store and manage vast amounts of data (big data) changing the GIS industry completely through innovation of faster high-speed internet, better processing power and streamlined networking and storage capabilities makes the analysis and visualization of data capable by anyone as the data is captured. This has been highlighted throughout my Co-op working as a data technician at Farmers Edge in Lethbridge, this precision agronomy/software development company has provided farmers with real-time data at the fingertips allowing them to make informed, smart decisions as conditions vary across their farmland. The question of what does GIS mean to me? I think that continues to change as we develop smarter faster technologies and further streamline data visualization, making the value of GIS limitless in my eyes.

On the Job Tools – Cutting out the middleman with proprietary software

I work for a company called Farmers Edge who specialize in precision agronomy they use a workflow of modular python scripts in a system called Elvyra. These scripts are custom built, with the goal of having proprietary ownership they do not use any tools from ArcGIS thus cutting out the middleman. These custom scripts/tools are used on the daily basis to perform all the analysis required to create Harvest (yield variability) and asApplied maps (maps showing the rate and volume of fertilizers, seeding, and spraying). These tools have specific sets of data requirements to match controllers and information in the shapefiles, as a technician, I am required to run these scripts, perform manual QA/QC on the outputs errors that occur, and build custom tools to help aide in data manipulation and automation.

The only other tools that we use other than the Elvyra system are:

  • ArcGIS & QGIS for some visual analysis for custom maps
  • Web Applications used to manage the outputs created
  • Microsoft Excel used to management of products, rates, and matching field coverage
  • Ag Leader SMS (Spatial Management System)
  • Farmworks

The Elvyra system will be obsolete by next year as the company has been developing a machine learning system which will require little to no monitoring apart from QA/QC on the outputs. This will be able to ingest any data taken from the monitors and controllers on the combines and process it into asApplied, Harvest, profit and other types of web maps. All utilizing a geo web server and application UI for the accessing and visualizing the data outputs.

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