Your Culture Will Adjust

All hail the mighty water cooler – the oft-praised bastion of corporate culture, where the strategies of organizations great and small are made or destroyed in the hushed tones of whispered conversations among those who gather for daily hydration.

By now, everyone who can has been working remotely for several weeks. Companies are starting to ponder what to do as the world opens back up. A few have already committed to fully remote work going forward while many others of all sizes are trying to divine how they will move forward.

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Tips For Your Best Zoom Experience

Or Skype, or Google Meet, or GoToMeeting, or whatever.

As I bounce around social media, I keep running across a lot of spurious advice on how to project a “professional” impression as you, like everyone else, participates in video calls from home. This seems to be particularly true on LinkedIn.

Most of that advice is hogwash.

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Prying Data Open

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, I was trying to get information from my local electric cooperative about outages. There were many (including my neighborhood) and I wanted to see the scale of the problem. It turns out, they have a page with a map that shows current outages by zip code.

Old school outage map

It’s pretty old-school as far as web maps go but it gets the job done. Their day job is making electricity, not web maps, so I won’t critique it too much. One thing I did notice is that the map seems to be dynamically generated (as do the tables on the page) from some inaccessible data source. I search and tried to find some kind of feed, to no avail.

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Critical Infrastructure?

A couple of weeks ago, I took some gentle razzing from some quarters for admitting I still have a land line:

This tweet was the result of yet another dropped call, which is annoying, but the unreliability of cellular networks can be more than just annoying, especially given the fact that they are now the primary communications medium for many people.

Almost ten years ago, on September 11, 2001, I was being evacuated from the building I was in and was trying reach my wife via cell phone. I heard a few garbled words about my parents and our dog before the line went dead. The mobile phone network was down for quite a while and my old analog cell phone was a paperweight during that time. We met up at my parents house later and she had our son and dog with her.

I went on to spend the next several years closely involved with critical infrastructure protection efforts and, specifically, the application of geospatial tools to those efforts. A lot of time, effort and money has been invested to make sure infrastructure works better in such situations.

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Open Government, Open Data and Some Lessons from Arkansas

I was reading Brian Timoney’s excellent post “Open Government is a Slammed Door at the BLM,” when I encountered this line:

Top-down, large scale spatial-data-integration-by-directive simply doesn’t have the track record of success to justify the costs…

This resonates well with observations that I have made during the course of my recent work with the Arkansas GIO office. The immediate focus of that work was to help AGIO assess the current state of their GeoStor platform and gather data about current and emerging capabilities in order to support decision-making about whether to migrate to a hosted (cloud) environment. In the course of doing that work, I learned about the collaborative approach AGIO has taken with the cities and counties of Arkansas, which also informs some of the functional requirements of GeoStor.

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AGIO Puts the Data First

I read Learon Dalby’s latest GISuser.com expert column (disclosure: I am a contributor there also) with great interest since it addresses an issue with which I have worked closely over the years: availability of GIS data in a time of crisis. Over the years, the proliferation of “operating pictures” (you’re not in style unless you have your own UDOP) and other systems has obscured the fact that the data is really what matters. Certain segments of the community, especially those more focused on man-made disasters rather than the natural variety, have gotten very good at putting multiple layers of technology, services, security, policy, etc. between GIS data and the people who need it.

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