Resolve to be Spatiotemporal in 2017

It’s no secret around the office that ‘spatiotemporal’ is my new favorite word. It’s kind of turned into a running joke. Maybe it’s because ‘spatiotemporal’ is about the only ‘geo’mashup in the GIS vernacular that isn’t prepended by ‘Arc’ or ‘Geo,’ or maybe it’s because it reminds me of Back to the Future (one of the all-time greats). I argue that if Back to the Future came out in the mashup happy world that we live in today, Doc Brown would have come up with ‘spatiotemporal.’

Doc’s insight, however “heavy” Marty thought it may be, emphasizes the importance of spatiotemporal data as the very fabric of the universe we live in (and the Big Data questions we’re all trying to answer).

Here’s why I think ‘spatiotemporal’ should be your favorite word too:

  1. You are spatiotemporal
    Talk about a resolution you can keep. You, are innately spatiotemporal. You are always some place at some time. Feels good to set a goal and reach it!
  2. Your data is spatiotemporal
    As such, it should be treated as spatiotemporal. It may seem obvious, but almost all data that you collect has a place and a time (is there an exception?). Attributing your data with those fields will empower you to create much more meaningful analytics with all of the geo-enabled analytics tools out there.
  3. Real-time
    There’s a paradigm shift occurring in the GIS field. Prior to now, data was collected and the results were static, seemingly permanent. Date/time wasn’t always included in your data attributes. Often the only reference to date was in the name of your shapefile. I may or may not have about 15 years of nationwide hail data lying around…with the only reference to date being the file name. Luckily we’ve moved that data to ArcGIS Server where the date is properly attributed, accessible, and updates every 5 minutes in real-time. With the constant evoltion of the IoT, data is streaming faster and faster. While the location of an IoT device doesn’t have to be dynamic, the date recorded most likely is and may be available in real-time. It’s spatiotemporal either way.
From static shapefiles with no date/time attributed to time enabled, real-time map services.

4. GeoEvent Server
Esri’s GeoEvent Server makes it easy to leverage spatiotemporal data specifically in real-time. The GeoEvent Server provides users the tools to easily configure alerts for their spatial data by intersecting it with real-time data whether its from third parties or in-house. To me, and I might be biased, the low hanging fruit revolves around creating custom weather triggers to generate alerts when weather impacts your business. Enhance your AVL app to alert drivers that they’re driving towards a tornado. Help farmers decide which field to work based on how wet the soil is or will be in the future.

5. You don’t know Jack
If you’re a GIS pro, you ought to at least know of Jack. In a recent article written by Jack Dangermond, President of Esri, published on GeoAwesomeness, he discusses 5 trends changing the world. Among the 5 are Location as a Service and Real-time. Read: spatiotemporal.

I know resolution season is almost over, and many have already broken theirs, but my focus for 2017 is on spatiotemporal data and helping others leverage historical, real-time, and forecast weather data within their GIS to make better decisions. Check out if you’d like to join me on my spatiotemporal resolution.

Weather Nerd. GIS Geek. Analyzing all things spatiotemporal. DTN Weather — matt.gaffner {@}