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Using StoryMaps to Celebrate Arlington County’s 1920 Centennial

Up until the end of the American Civil War, both present-day Arlington County and Alexandria County were included under the Alexandria County name. Then, in 1870, Virginia's re-written Constitution called for the state’s many incorporated cities to become independent from their respective counties. Thus, Alexandria City separated from the County of Alexandria, which was renamed to “Arlington County” to avoid confusion.

Blue Raster partnered with the Arlington Historical Society to create a StoryMap celebrating Arlington County's centennial anniversary. This StoryMap highlights 115 points of historical significance throughout the county, as curated by the Arlington Historical Society. The map displays a diverse range of feature types, including bridges, farmhouses, mansions, schools, and more. Each location also features a high-quality picture, modern-day address, and informative site description.

Arlington Centennial StoryMap

Arlington County Centennial StoryMap

This StoryMap also features a custom basemap, created from scratch by Blue Raster’s GIS and design teams. This basemap gives viewers a better view of what Arlington County looked like in 1920, including historic street and community names. In addition to a view of the past, this basemap also contains elements of the present. Zooming in activates a layer showing current-day building footprints that can help the viewer relate present locations to historical points of interest.

Since our inception in 2002, Blue Raster has been headquartered in Arlington County, Virginia. We always love working with local businesses and organizations, and we look forward to celebrating the county’s centennial anniversary with this StoryMap.

Let Blue Raster create your organization’s next StoryMap. Contact us today to get started!

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ArcGIS Training at Blue Raster: Teaching the Fundamentals of Esri ArcGIS

Recently, a nationally recognized professional services firm approached us with a need for customized training on the fundamentals of web and desktop GIS. The Blue Raster team developed a customized agenda and led a 3 day training at our Arlington office focusing on the ArcGIS Platform and its capabilities. The goal of the training was to teach the basics of GIS workflows in both ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Pro.

Training group

The training began with a two-day session on Desktop and Web GIS, data mining and data curation, and Esri Story Maps. The goal after the first two days was to create a story map focused on areas of highest vulnerability within a country, and areas that could use infrastructure investment.

Training Fundamentals

  • GIS Core concepts
  • An in-depth introduction to ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Pro
  • Finding and loading data into ArcGIS Pro
  • Symbology and Data visualization
  • Data prep, cleaning, and management
  • Basic GIS Operations such as queries, filtering, configuring popups, and field calculations
  • ArcGIS Pro to ArcGIS Online Integration
  • ArcGIS Online Groups, item sharing, and publishing permissions
  • And of course, ArcGIS StoryMaps.

After the initial two day training, the group presented their ArcGIS StoryMap to their larger team in order to gain insight and feedback on what more they would like to see. Also, before returning to the Blue Raster office for the third day of training, they gathered questions and ideas from their team about what other functions and capabilities the Esri ArcGIS platform could offer.

This second round allowed for the group to ask these and any other questions from working on their own time, as well as practice any workflows they wanted to master. The Blue Raster team focused the final day of training on additional Esri tools and offerings including WebApp Builder, Operations Dashboard, and ArcGIS Solutions and the ArcGIS Solutions Deployment tool.

The afternoon was used for lab and hands on practice training. The training group also used the final hour of the day to invite the rest of their team to the Blue Raster office to present a full 1 hour demo of what they learned over the course of the training, showing their team how to source data, load it into ArcGIS Online, and then analyze and visualize the data to show trends.

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  • GIS

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.

TTB_Digitizing

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.

ArcGIS Maps for Microsoft Power BI: Make Spatially Informed Business Decisions

What is Microsoft Power BI?

Power BI is an award-winning business intelligence tool created by Microsoft as a single hub for tracking and managing many diverse assets within a given organization. The Power BI platform consists of widget-based analytical tiles from both Microsoft and their various partners. These tiles allow for a simple, professional, and customizable visualization of otherwise unmanageable amounts of business data. The straightforward user interface and intelligent feature construction means that dashboard setup and asset management is now faster and easier than ever before.

Let Blue Raster create and optimize custom maps in Microsoft Power BI to give you more control over your data than ever before.

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ArcGIS Maps Integration

ArcGIS Maps within Microsoft Power BI contains many map-building elements that are similar to those found in other Esri products, such as ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online. The configuration tab is highly user-friendly, featuring “drag & drop” field population and automatic detection of spatial data types. ArcGIS Maps for Power BI accepts both point and polygon data types. It can recognize fields that contain standard administrative boundaries (such as zip codes, counties, states, etc). Automated geocoding of point locations and polygon centroid calculation help to reduce the time and effort of spatial data management.

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ArcGIS Maps for Microsoft Power BI provides basemaps and reference layers that are crucial to understanding the spatial context of business data. There are numerous basemaps to choose from to ensure a visualization that complements the symbology of spatially referenced assets. Changing the color schemes of data is also easy to do, with many hand-picked combinations and editable classification settings. Meanwhile, reference layers containing verified spatial data such as Median Household Income or Biodiversity Hotspots are great for showing the underlying geographic or demographic characteristics at any scale. Simple infographics cards display summaries of multiple key factors based on the extent of the map viewer.

The functionality of ArcGIS Maps for Microsoft Power BI also extends to light spatial analysis in the form identifying geographic patterns and relationships. Heat maps and clustering functions allow for the aggregation of data into overarching groups and regions, while location pins and drive time analysis help to evaluate smaller localities around individual assets. The maps editor even features support for temporal animation with a field that transfers time data into a dynamic map sequence.

Understanding the Geography of Business

Large companies with numerous clients, facilities, and/or assets often receive vast amounts of spatial data that go completely unused. ArcGIS Maps for Microsoft Power BI allows companies to harness the true potential of asset location in order to improve their business revenue and productivity.

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This program takes data connection and shared business management to the next level. Any interaction or data selection within the ArcGIS Maps tile reflects in corresponding changes to data visualizations across all other analytical tiles. Collaboration is also easier than ever before, as Power BI allows users to share everything from individual figures to entire dashboards with just a few clicks.

Blue Raster is currently developing a Power BI dashboard and map application to visualize, analyze and track data and information for an important health project. The Tracking with Recency Assays to Control the Epidemic (TRACE) project is a new initiative that will contribute to the global fight to reach HIV epidemic control. Because the dashboard application needs to be accessible and usable by many users in many scenarios, the Blue Raster and TRACE teams decided on the ideal combination of Microsoft Power BI and Esri ArcGIS Online.

We are excited to grow our Power BI team and enhance our clients' business intelligence with the power of location data using ArcGIS Maps for Power BI.

Let Blue Raster kickstart your organization’s spatially integrated business dashboard. Contact us today!


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