Responding to COVID-19 through our partnership with Esri – Get Live Maps, Data and Resources

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Blue Raster helps you tell your story through interactive
mapping technology. Make your message clear, exciting,
and user-friendly for both mobile and web platforms.


Esri Partner Conference 2020

The Esri Partner Conference is a yearly meeting of Esri's global partners and distributors who are reshaping the world through the application of geospatial technology and location intelligence. The EPC is a chance to share solutions and offerings and expand your network. It's also a great time to collaborate with other partners and problem-solve using the Esri Geospatial Cloud. This event leads up to the Esri Developer Summit, which was held virtually this year due to the Coronavirus spread.

Blue Raster’s Storytelling recognized at Esri Partner Conference

Esri Partner Conference Award

After the EPC Plenary session, Esri honored select partners for their outstanding application of GIS software. The award winners are companies from the global Esri Partner Network that have demonstrated innovative and creative ways to solve the most complex business problems by using Esri's geospatial analytics tools.

Esri President Jack Dangermond and Director of Global Business Development Jeff Peters presented Blue Raster with the "Storytelling Award" for telling stories that resonate using ArcGIS StoryMaps. Blue Raster enables customers to tell their unique stories through interactive mapping technology for both mobile and web platforms, including leading global organizations; government, conservation, health, and global affairs agencies; and educational institutions.

During the Esri Partner Conference Plenary, we were excited to see some of our work featured up on the big screen. The Plenary also provided insights into product updates and the future of Esri technology.

Esri FedGIS 2020

The Blue Raster team recently attended the 2020 Esri Federal GIS (FedGIS) Conference in Washington, DC. The conference brought together over 5,000 GIS professionals from across government agencies to share their knowledge and explore new ways of leveraging GIS in their work. Over the course of three days, Esri staff and industry specialists held presentations and workshops on best practices for location intelligence and their experiences working within the geospatial data community.

Blue Raster's work with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) was highlighted in the FedGIS plenary presentation by Jack Dangermond, and our project with the Department of Education was featured on a Map Gallery wall.

Esri FedGIS Preconference Events

Esri FedGIS

Esri FedGIS

On Monday, Blue Raster had the opportunity to participate in two Esri FedGIS preconference programs:

  • The Partner Program brought together startups, emerging businesses, the Esri Partner Network, and alliance partners to understand how to effectively work with Esri software in partnership with Esri to drive success.
  • The University Student Program included sessions, workshops, and a career fair event for students in undergraduate and graduate degree programs with interest and experience in GIS and other related fields. Our team co-presented with the Esri StoryMaps team on Storytelling using GIShelping to showcase our work with the new StoryMaps for ArcGIS and present the features that StoryMaps has to offer.
    • New this year was the Esri FedGIS Career Fair for the University students. Blue Raster hosted a table for the career fair portion of the student program, where we had the chance to meet some great students on the cutting edge of GIS technologies, and discuss some of our career opportunities.


Our team also had the opportunity to see some of the wonderful work that others are doing in the geospatial community, as well as present some of our own work.

Blue Raster team member Christina Nordling discussed How Agencies are using StoryMaps to Share Information.

Shannon Lindsay and Phil Satlof shared their work with Integrating Microsoft Power BI and ArcGIS for the TRACE Program.

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2019 Esri Mid-Atlantic User Group Conference: Five Major Takeaways from our GIS Team

Blue Raster was a proud sponsor of the Esri Mid-Atlantic User Group Conference in Philadelphia, PA. In addition to showcasing our work and connecting with Esri users, members of the Blue Raster GIS Team attended technical sessions and workshops. The two-day event brought together over 400 Esri users and GIS professions from around the region seeking to advance their organizations and workflows with the latest GIS technology offerings.

Esri Mid-Atlantic User Group Conference

The Plenary featured presentations by Esri’s cartographer and user experience designer, John Nelson, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, and technology presentations by Esri staff. This year’s conference theme was titled “GIS - The Intelligent Nervous System,” a reference to the intricate communication system in the human body responsible for detecting, transmitting, and communicating vital information across complex network of nerves.

Esri Mid-Atlantic User Group Conference
Esri's cartographer and user experience designer, John Nelson, led the plenary session.

5 Takeways from the Esri Mid-Atlantic Conference

The Esri Mid-Atlantic conference helped provide answers to these questions: What is new? What has been improved and updated? What can we anticipate in the future?

1. GIS technologies are constantly advancing.

As an industry leader in GIS software, Esri’s applications and tools are constantly evolving to suit the needs of an increasingly diverse range of customers. From education to AEC (architecture, engineering and construction), Esri is at the forefront of product development for an increasing number of GIS users. It is important for Blue Raster to attend Esri’s conferences to ensure we remain informed about the latest developments in the field. As a result, this allows us to build capacity in our team and our clients when it comes to GIS workflows.

2. Building connections face-to-face improves our understanding of what GIS users need.

Throughout the conference, we had the opportunity to meet and speak with GIS users from around the region. These face-to-face interactions allowed us to gain a more nuanced understanding of how organizations are using GIS to address problems at a variety of scales. This only reinforces the importance of stepping away from our desks and attending these conferences. The importance of face-to-face discussions in a constantly evolving industry is just as important as the work we do from our computers.

Esri Mid-Atlantic User Conference

3. For local and state governments, GIS happens at the smallest scales.

From water utilities to curbside maintenance, city governments are eager to leverage GIS workflows to track and manage their assets and workforce. Unique to this scale is the need for precision and accuracy. As a result, government GIS users must have a deep and intimate understanding of their cities. Esri products cater to these needs through a large selection of highly customizable field and web applications.

4. For small municipalities and city governments, Emergency Management Preparedness and Mitigation is happening right now.

Adjusting and preparing for a changing global climate can often seem like an overwhelming task, but for local governments and municipalities being prepared to face this change is happening right now. Furthermore, small municipalities are keenly aware of the specific risks and needs of their communities and are eager to leverage whatever technology is available to manage assets and personal in times of crisis. This desire to be ready and up to date on the newest uses of GIS for Emergency Management was evident in the high attendance of all three Emergency Management focused session of the conference.

5. GIS technology isn’t just for the GIS industry.

Throughout the two day Esri Mid-Atlantic Conference the Blue Raster team had the chance to talk to attendees, other sponsors, and Esri professionals. An overarching theme was that GIS is involved in countless sectors of business and professional industries, from architects to civil engineers and city planners, GIS professionals, non-profit community development groups, educators and students, and local and county government employees. We are excited to see how The Science of Where continues to expand.

Mapping America’s Wine Growing Regions

Wine Country

Have you ever wondered where your wine comes from? Did you know that there are hundreds of distinct wine regions in the United States? Since 2017, Blue Raster has been working with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to map over 270 of America’s Viticultural Areas (AVA) in GIS. Blue Raster then developed the AVA Map Explorer, a web mapping application to view, compare and download AVA boundaries.

Viticultural areas are designated grape-growing regions with distinguishable geographic features with boundaries defined by TTB. TTB is part of the U.S. Treasury and overseas regulation and tax collection on the sales of alcohol and tobacco. A map library with thousands of marked-up USGS topographic maps to written boundary instructions called the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 27 CFR Part 9 is the official record and only way to view an AVA.

Example of CFR entry.

Working with SJ Technologies, the team started the conversion from paper to GIS by creating points for each CFR description in a Viticultural Area. Then, using industry-accepted national datasets including U.S. Census administrative boundaries and roads, and USGS contours and the National Hydrography Dataset, the connected CFR points form viticultural boundaries.


Larger viticultural areas may be drawn on over forty separate paper maps in the maps library. In digital format the number of paper maps is no longer an issue. The new approach allowed for the team to provide an extremely detailed product to TTB that was easily consumable. The ability to zoom in on complex areas or view an entire viticultural area on one screen had previously been impossible.

AVAs boundaries can be extremely detailed, but might not seem so when viewing at the full extent.

Zoom in to see just how detailed the AVA boundaries are.

Boundaries follow hydrographic and contour lines.

AVA Map Explorer

With over 270 AVAs mapped, Blue Raster developed the AVA Map Explorer. This easy to use application helps TTB staff with wine labeling, vineyards petitioning for inclusion in an existing or proposed AVA, and the public to learn more about where their wine comes from. Additionally, users can search AVAs by name, address, State and County filters, or simply by panning around and exploring. Because many AVAs have overlapping boundaries, the ability to compare AVAs was critical. Contained within a popup is information about overlapping AVAs, effective dates, and geographic extent. From the popup users can also link to the CFR, which is still the official record, view the public docket of petitions and rulings, and download the shapefile of the AVA.

More than just Napa and Sonoma counties in California, wine growing regions exist all across the United States.

Zoom in to see just how detailed the AVA boundaries are. Popups show how AVA's contain and overlapp with others.

In places with heavy overlap, it’s possible to add AVA's to a list to compare boundaries.

Learn more about wine in your area with the American Viticultural Area Map Explorer. Cheers!

Green-Wood Mobile App: Celebrating Life in one of America’s Historic Cemeteries

Since its founding in 1838, Green-Wood Cemetery is home to over 560,000 decedents. One of America’s first rural cemeteries, the 478 acre cemetery is also a National Historical Landmark, a Level III accredited Arboretum, and an attraction to over 500,000 visitors each year. While death is all around at Green-Wood, so too is the celebration of life. Green-Wood is a new mobile application that lets visitors explore the natural heritage, trees and wildlife on the grounds.

Green-Wood mobile app

Blue Raster developed the Green-Wood mobile app using React Native. This allowed for rapid development of both iOS and Android platforms. We created the map portion of the app by using Esri's ArcGIS API for JavaScript. This fun-to-use and informative application allows users to view profiles of landmark monuments and structures, learn about the diverse plant and animal species that live on the grounds, and discover stories of the famous and infamous people buried there.

Green-Wood: Celebrating Life at Green-Wood Cemetery

Additionally, the map allows users position themselves on the grounds and find an area of interest. Filter the map points by popular categories and link out to the expanded profiles.

Green-Wood Mobile App: Celebrating Life

Blue Raster has also been working with Green-Wood on internal workflows for management of plant maintenance and monument restoration by using Esri's Collector and Workforce for ArcGIS. Additionally, we are using drones to study the impact of invasive plant species in an urban environment. Now the Green-Wood app is a chance for the public to see all the aspects of Green-Wood that make it such a special place.

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