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EARTH OBSERVATION
GIS Finds its Way to The Cloud
by Staff Writers
Aurora CO (SPX) Sep 12, 2011


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Setting up a GIS system just got simpler thanks to cloud computing. Cloud computing furnishes technological capabilities - commonly maintained off-premise that are delivered on demand as a service via the Internet. American Sentinel University Professor Gabriel Schmidbauer says cloud computing makes setting up the GIS system simpler, because the system is built into the servers.

"Basically, you don't have to go through the very rigorous process of setting up your own database server, GIS server and then setting up your own GIS system," says Schmidbauer. "You can pretty much plug in the GIS software into a system out of the cloud that ESRI developed."

With ESRI's Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, the pre-configured ArcGIS for Server is hosted by a cloud provider and managed by an end-user. According to ESRI, there is no software instillation and no hardware.

Schmidbauer says cloud computing could potentially change the industry.

"Everything is going to the cloud," he says. "It's the nature of where software is going. GIS software has a steep learning curve. The cloud is going to change things where setting up a GIS system will be a lot easier now, and ESRI will doing the heavy lifting."

Recently, The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is working with ESRI to create a fully cloud-based geospatial portal. USDA's prototype portal, Enterprise Spatial Mapping Service (ESMS), is built with Portal for ArcGIS, managed by ESRI, and hosted on the Amazon cloud within USDA's secure environment.

According to the USDA, the private cloud GIS makes is the central repository for authoritative content accessible to users within the department as well as other public agencies.

Users have the same collaboration and sharing tools as those provided in the public cloud-mapping environment ArcGIS Online, but the site retains the USDA customization.

USDA will eventually integrate its eAuthentication access control system with the private cloud solution to make the platform more secure.

ESRI is also working on Mobile GIS services to the cloud. In the future, the field staff will be able to access GIS capabilities and data using their mobile device.

"{Mobile devices} are the future, because people are more and more focused on using them for everything, including GIS," says Schmidbauer.

Because it focuses on the students and important technological trends, American Sentinel University is perfect for today's aspiring GIS technology professional.

American Sentinel is one of the few higher education institutions to offer two dedicated undergraduate GIS degrees, not just certificates, which have been offered for more than four years.

The online school is often much more flexible than other institutions, which can be slow to react to technology trends.

The university's GIS associates and bachelors programs teach fundamental business and information technology skills and the specifics of geographic information systems.

"Before they graduate, American Sentinel University students will know the trends, new technology, often before the rest of the industry does," he says. "We can be more nimble than a giant geography department."

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