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Is your GPS taking you the wrong way?

One day as I was working in my county engineer's office at Stark County, IL, a delivery driver stopped in and said "Why are these roads labeled incorrectly on my GPS map?"  At first I blew it off thinking that's something beyond my control and I had more important things like ongoing construction projects.  After all, we as the local agency were the knowledge experts on local names and places and if these big companies wanted our data they could "come and find us" with their "incorrect" GPS navigation devices.  But then I realized what a tremendous benefit this would be to not only the local deliver driver but also emergency response, tourism, and many others.

 So how do we get these basemaps updated?  First of all, these basemap companies are BIG and there are only a few key players.  By basemaps I mean the foundation for GPS navigation on consumer-grade electronics.  

There's not exactly a 1-800 hotline that you can call as a one-stop-shop to update everyone in the universe (although that would be nice).  There are however, tools that allow you to edit or update the information on your own.  This is called crowd-sourcing, where anyone / anywhere can contribute to updating basemap information to benefit the traveling public.  Here are some ways to do this for some of the bigger basemap providers out there:

A sample of an Esri basemap

A sample of an Esri basemap


  • Open Street Map is a crowd-sourced application that allows to edit and update street map information used by consumers around the world.  All you need is to create a login and learn their simple editing tools.


  • HERE, A Nokia Company, who recently purchased acquired Navteq is also a major provider of basemaps.  With HERE you can go to their site: 

https://mapcreator.here.com/mapcreator/  Map editing tool sign up for an account

https://content.ext.here.com/    Data upload portal (Upload GIS data here)


  • Google Maps has a Base Map Partner Program that allows agencies to submit their data in vector format with specific instructions regarding format.  In addition to vector data, Google also allows users to contribute to their collection of Cities in 3D, Imagery, and parcel data.


Remember, sometimes it takes some time for it to become active.  Yes, real people typically look at the information you submit and actually take time to verify its accuracy.  


If you have more ideas, thoughts, etc. please leave them in the comments below.

What is a 'Location Strategy'?

Sounds like a buzzword.
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Yeah, it is, So? The point of buzzwords are to create buzz around a specific topic or idea. 

Therefore; The idea of conceptualizing your organization's Location Strategy is to get you to think about location. Some of the worst business advice is given by Hollywood; "If you build it, They (he) will come". Not necessarily.  Here's some questions to start you off: 

  • What would happen if you moved your office/business?
  • Is it important to know the location of your employees? 
  • Is it important that they know where your inventory (Stuff) is?
  • Do YOU know where your inventory is? How about your replacement?
  • Can your clients get to you? 
  • What about social media?
  • How close are you to your most valuable clients?
  • Are you causing your clients frustration because you haven't though about this?

Let me give you two examples

1. Bob the Restauranteur, He makes truly awesome Pizza, but never gave a thought to location. So he opened up his shop in his hometown. He has a short commute but he drives an hour everyday to get fresh ingredients. His little town already has two pizza places, but he has low-overhead, so he stays. He has a great website, but it's not mobile enabled. His kid brother is the delivery man, who seems to deliver a lot of pizzas to his friends outside town. Yelp had a few bad reviews of Bob's delivering brother.  Bob lasted 9 months then went out of business. 
2. Sue the City Administrator, works in the same town as Bob. But she HAS thought about Location, a lot. Infact she regularly updates her digital infrastructure (GIS) on an iPad when sewers get fixed or installed. She also keeps up with her field folks sending them paperless work-orders based on a mobile-enabled app from the general public, which are her 'customers'. She has claimed the locations of city hall on Bing and Google maps, Yelp, Foursquare, and a host of other social media. Sue is 63 and almost ready to retire, so she's training the current public works director to do all of this and sends him to lots of conferences. 
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A good location strategy is beneficial to you presently and those around you in the future. With these little self-aware computers we all have in our pockets, location is common. Someone will think about your location if you don't. My advice to you is get in front of the tide. Think of some of the most effective companies; Walgreens, McDonalds, Wal-Mart, Casey's General Stores. These guys know the value of a good strategy. Location, Location, Location.