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4 Ways to Use GIS to Make Better Decisions

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You, me, we. All of us make a lot of decisions. From personal decisions like what to wear, to work-related decisions, such as when divest acreage, decision making is a very common process for determining what’s next.

So common is decision making, that a Forbes.com article on leadership says that managers and executives average nearly 3 billion decisions each and every year.

From intuitive to highly analytical, to pro-con lists, there are almost as many ways to make a decision as there are leaders.

Why then, with all the high-powered brains making thousands of decisions each and every day, doesn’t every decision lead to astounding success and outrageous profitability?

Well, because the decision-making process requires a careful mental balance between rationality and emotion, and it’s virtually impossible to get the equation right 100 percent of the time.

Good decision making, say researchers, is predicated on accurately tracking, measuring, and managing data while limiting emotional influences and personal biases.

At Orbis, we’ve developed a number of geographic information systems (GIS) solutions to help the timberland investment industry make better, more informed decisions through confidence in their data to drive results.

To help you understand, we’ve pulled together this short list of ways GIS can impact decision making for the better.

1. Centralized Information

The What: GIS enables the capture, storage, and display of all kinds of critical on-the-ground data and geographically referenced information onto one map.
The Why: Uncomplicating data and subsequent data sharing allows the information to be more readily seen, analyzed, and understood by key stakeholders.

2. Data Comparison

The What: GIS collects objective data using a location referenced system.

The Why: Data collected at a particular location can be compared with other data or information in order to determine relevance and priority.

3. Predictive Analytics

The What: GIS enables the integration of many different types of information, such as aerial photographs, tabular data, and digital satellite data.

The Why: The totality of data can be used to calculate risk, make projections and forecasts, and manage inventory

4. Dataset Relationships

The What: GIS helps uncover patterns and show visual connections among and between data.

The Why: Understanding correlations and causations among datasets and variables is the start of defining both short- and long-term strategies for bringing about desired outcomes.

Done right, GIS mapping can play a crucial role in helping timberland investors understand their current position, so they can develop comprehensive strategies for future success.

Looking for even more ways to use GIS? Tell us more in the comments.

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6 Reasons You Should Have a Data Integration Plan

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Data integration combines both business and technical information from separate sources onto a unified platform, so it can be managed more effectively and made available to the right people at the right time. Ultimately, integration is critical for providing insight into business processes, and making it easier to manage and share big data. In this article we will be outlining some of the many advantages to integrating your data.

Clean Records

First and foremost, data integration helps to clean up your records and simplifies data management. By “streamlining” your current complex data interfaces, integration makes it easier for others to read and access the dataset. “Clean” data is valuable as this ensures your records are accurate and complete, while decreasing your potential for careless errors.

Reduce Data Complexity

Data integration is also useful when it comes to managing data across numerous formats and applications. Each unique data format is useful in its own way, with particular structures and attributes that make it necessary. Integrating data from these various formats can help your dataset to be specialized, and therefore more diverse. For instance, GIS data can be integrated to enhance a CAD drawing with layers of specialized geographic information.

Improved Application Management

Data integration also allows for data to be displayed across multiple applications. Individual platforms present data in different and unique ways, so if all data were to be displayed in an identical format, it wouldn’t be as meaningful. That’s why you can integrate multiple software applications into one database, allowing formats to be easily converted and opened.

Centric Focus

Combining separate datasets also serves to make the data more readily available. Centralizing data makes it easier for everyone at your company, from sales to marketing, to view, retrieve, share, and analyze the data presented. This is a key benefit, because providing data access to all databases used by your company will keep the employees more organized, efficient and in-sync. Respectively, integrated data promotes collaboration within, and outside of the company because employees will be more likely to share and incorporate data into projects and proposals.

Enhanced Data

As a result of easier access, the data can also be more easily updated. When all systems are connected, you can make changes once and the change will be consistent across all integrated platforms. This is a much simpler process than having someone manually enter the update across multiple systems, saving time and limiting room for error.

Superior Decision Making

Lastly, gaining a better understanding of your data allows you to gain insight and to make better business decisions. By allowing people to view your data in multiple flexible formats, they are given an advantage to better understand the information being presented to them. Integration provides for a deeper comprehension of which parts of your business are interacting most frequently, which can lead to improved results and overall decision-making.

If you’re convinced that your company needs a data integration system, let us know!! We’ll be glad to help!

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Preventing Property Damage from Active Fires with GIS

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An average of 100,000 wildfires destroy four or five million acres of land in the United States every year, according to National Geographic. Heat, drought, strong winds and frequent lightning strikes create ideal conditions for these raging fires that are most plentiful out West. While wildfires play a vital role in the growth of forest ecosystems, their destruction also poses a threat to wildlife, plant life and humans, which is why the movement of wildfires needs to be closely monitored.

The process of monitoring and determining the location of these forest fires has come a long way since the fire lookout tower system common in the 1900s. Today, thanks to years of technological advance, remote sensing systems are now used to monitor and map the location of forest fires. Through this practical application, GIS is used as a powerful tool for mapping the spatial distribution and spread of active fires. Additionally, GIS features can be used in more specific ways such as fuel mapping*, as well as tracking weather conditions and fire danger ratings. Destruction of wildlife habitat, property damage, loss of recreation value, and loss of timberland are all consequences of forest fire, demonstrating the importance of paying attention to active fires.

Here at Orbis, we are able to provide our FIP clients with access to live GIS data regarding forest fires by integrating forest service and weather service data into our web-based program. The FIP application consumes these LIVE layers and applies them in the forest management module. A benefit of having LIVE data within a cloud-based application is that there is no need for manual data entry to keep the information maintained, since it is being updated in real time. Other LIVE data we incorporate into FIP includes weather data, parcel data and LIVE species data. By providing our clients with LIVE fire data, Orbis hopes to keep foresters safe and informed about dangers on their land so that they can ultimately prevent loss of life and minimize their property damage.

*Fuel- dead surface biomass that increases the spread of wildfire (branches, foliage, etc)

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