Put your documents on the map

Colleen Alber

I didn’t grow up loving geography. I wasn’t the kid in the backseat of the car reading an atlas and I certainly didn’t study geographical information systems (GIS) in school. But thanks to modern technology (and my kids), I’m just now realizing that maps are all kinds of crazy cool.

Maybe it’s because, just like me, maps have grown up. Just think of all the ways maps have evolved in our own lives.

First there was MapQuest. Go online, print driving directions and a piece of paper would navigate you from the passenger seat. Then GPS devices like TomTom made their way to the dashboard with real-time street views and audio, telling you exactly when and where to turn.

Next, map-centric mobile apps, like Google maps, appeared on smartphones, complete with your choice of route, mode of transportation, time estimates and more. Now, these same apps not only tell us how to get from here to there, but also provide a complete view – alerting us to traffic, police, construction and even where to find the nearest Starbucks. There are even some apps that estimate your fuel costs based on current gasoline price and the make and model of your vehicle.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Of course, it’s not all about directions. Both the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games and the 2016 United States Presidential Election results were often illustrated using maps to communicate everything from medal counts to Electoral College votes.

There is just something about being able to put information in context faster when it’s visualized versus wading through a list or spreadsheet. It goes back to the old adage of “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

The future of enterprise information platforms: Document (and data) visualization

The world of enterprise content management (ECM) and enterprise information platforms is also embracing this move toward modernized maps.

At Hyland, we’ve integrated with Esri’s mapping applications (unrivaled in the GIS technology space) for more than 15 years—connecting content to geographic map features. And we’re proud to be a Silver partner—insert brag here—developing industry-leading ECM-GIS integrations that bring the power of geospatial data to documents.

No matter where a user lives, we can serve a GIS layer that enriches the context of the information to provide the whole story. We do this in two major ways:

1. See documents in Esri ArcGIS

A GIS (map) user can easily click on a map feature and view all the related documents in OnBase. This approach has always been widely adopted by government organizations that want to display land parcels with related building permits, design documents, inspection reports and more. Users can even complete service requests electronically directly from the map, initiating subsequent processing and repairs—often directly from a mobile device.

Longtime customer Horry County recently told me they purchased a drone to take aerial photos of the county. They plan to store these pictures in OnBase and correlate them to maps for public consumption. Pair this with historical data and constituents have a complete picture of any property.

2. Map documents in OnBase

In recent years, we’ve worked to put maps in the hands of more than just the Esri ArcGIS user. Now, thanks to real-time geo-coding of documents, anyone in OnBase can “put” their content on the map—displaying documents as pinpoints (on an interactive Esri map). This provides an illustration of the information, while a mouse-click automatically presents the document behind the pin.

With this approach, “where” becomes important. For example, does the location of an insurance claim make sense based on where the storm (and reported damage) took place? With a click, a claims processor can find out—as documents that contain address information can easily be plotted on a map and paired with weather data.

In fact, any document in OnBase that has address information can now be plotted and viewed on a map from within OnBase. This function works by calling a service that looks up the coordinates, and no human intervention is required. In addition, users can add external content (public or private data) as a map layer, providing location analytics. Again here, mobile access plays a role, as location (latitude/longitude) of photos and forms can be automatically captured and used for mapping.

No matter where the user begins—Esri or OnBase—the ability to map content to create a full picture of the information is extremely powerful, increasing the speed and impact of business decisions. If you ask me, the future of ECM and enterprise information platforms will include a larger focus on rich GIS capabilities, aggregating documents, data and geolocation together for one complete view.

As for me and my kids, we’ll keep on using maps to see and understand the world.

Colleen Alber

Colleen Alber

Colleen Alber is a dynamic, energetic software product evangelist who inspires others with purpose and passion for technology, yoga and life.

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