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Reaching everyone with maps

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I watched a video this week, a presentation given by Brian Boulmay of BP:

It is well worth watching, he talks about BP’s One Map Platform. He wants to reach the whole community within his organisation with a map. There is an interesting quote mid-way through (I have paraphrased slightly below)

“We queried all desktops globally: 80,000 employees, 4 times more google earth installs than any other mapping package.

Wow! How did that happen? How did we get all this?

Is it because of the great training for Google Earth?

No, there was no training.

Was it because we deployed it through our common application development framework?

No we didn’t deploy. As a matter of fact you are not supposed to install it.

Or, was it all the great data that is in there?

That’s funny, it comes empty, minus a picture

so why do I have 4 times more installs than I do of a professional mapping capability?

– Because it was easy.”

1 Billion downloads

I have also seen the proliferation of Google Earth (GE) on people’s desktops for many years. In 2011 Google reported GE had been downloaded more than 1 billion times. On the Android system Google Maps was the second application to reach 1 billion downloads (after Gmail).

I agree that people are using Google Earth because it’s easy, but also because its ‘free’. It is that powerful combination of software that is fun, simple, allows you to add your own information and has no cost. But as a company solution it is not as smart. Many users replicating data, key data not being available or known about. What is the cost of this poor data management?

“Everyone in our business uses a map”

The real measure of success, as described in the video, is if information can be disseminated throughout the organisation; but the hard yards of ‘crunching data’ are hidden from all but a small number of users then “…they don’t know we are here, they just use the map”. The user has to want to view the map, he/she has to trust the data and be aware of its existence and the software has to be easy to use.

The challenge for all enterprise type GIS systems is to make the solution as simple as possible. It needs to have great data, run fast, and present the information in a fun way that is intuitive to the user.

If this can happen then you put information into the hands of everybody. 

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