Meet the Beautiful Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College

Hailed as one of the country's most beautiful college campuses, Swarthmore College features more than 4,000 plant varieties and 425 acres of cultivated, flowering hills. As part of the breathtaking campus, the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College hosts numerous learning programs, extends incredible volunteer opportunities, and supports educational courses offered at the college. One of the arboretum’s central goals is to cultivate and display plants specific to the region and inspire visitors with ideas for their own gardens. Considering the volume of plants, frequency of plant updates, and educational purposes of the arboretum, a robust plant record management system and a publicly accessible application for exploration are integral to supporting Scott Arboretum’s ongoing mission.  

In 2021, Blue Raster partnered with Scott Arboretum to establish a synchronization process between GIS and the arboretum’s botanical repository, BG-BASE. Another outcome was to update and modernize the arboretum’s public plant and dedication search site. Blue Raster created GIS data representing surveyed plant locations, garden features, points of interest, and other reference data for visitor amenities. The team also facilitated the expansion of field GIS for plant mapping by leveraging ArcGIS Field Maps to streamline and improve the efficiency of data collection and updates. The workflow enables internal staff and plant managers to modify and update plant records in the field while edits are committed to near real-time, allowing them to flow seamlessly into internal and public applications. The BG-BASE-ArcGIS sync exploits the powerful capabilities of Field and Web GIS in tandem with Python scripting for a continuous connection between the botanical system of record, GIS data, and associated information products.  

Scott Arboretum

Finally, the new Arboretum Explorer application, developed in the latest version of the ArcGIS Maps SDK for JavaScript, is an interactive site for researchers, staff, and visitors to explore both the arboretum and campus attractions and filter and search for plants and memorials. The application enhances the user experience of engaging with the botanical database, enabling Scott Arboretum to thoroughly operate and present information to users.​ Arboretum Explorer is a dynamic application that highlights the arboretum’s garden collections, allowing users to identify dedicated benches and plaques, and other tools for navigating the historic gardens.  As a mobile-friendly app, the Arboretum Explorer is a great resource for visitors to navigate and explore the collections while onsite.

"The Blue Raster team is incredibly knowledgeable, innovative, and amenable.  They have the innate ability to take a basic concept and masterfully turn it into a functional, creative, and user-friendly end product."
- Mary Tipping, Curator and Plant Recorder, Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College

Blue Raster has been supporting public garden, arboreta, and cemetery customers for over ten years, developing custom applications and providing training to increase the use of GIS for staff and public workflows. Click here to learn more about Blue Raster’s work with public gardens. 

2023 Esri UC Top Takeaways

Blue Raster's 2023 Esri UC Highlights

Our team is back from one of the most exciting annual events, exhibiting at the 2023 Esri User Conference in San Diego! Blue Raster has attended nearly every User Conference since 1999—and this year was one of the best! This year Blue Raster had 8 colleagues attend and now that were back, here are some of our favorite highlights:

2023 Esri UC

Meeting conference attendees, clients, colleagues, and friends at Blue Raster’s Booth

Did you get a chance to stop by Blue Raster’s booth this year? (Hint: Are you still wearing your cool Blue Raster sunglasses? Are your Crocs properly studded with Blue Raster jibbitz?) This year we had over 500 people stop by the booth to learn more about how Blue Raster visualizes data that shapes our world. Thanks for stopping by!

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The 2023 Esri UC Plenary Session

Longtime friend of Blue Raster, and founder and CEO of Esri, Jack Dangermond kicked off this year’s Plenary session “GIS – Creating the World You Want to See”, to give us updates on all the new products and feature enhancements of ArcGIS tools. He guided us on a tour of how Esri is incorporating AI into geospatial workflows, meshing different data formats into real-world solutions (including 3D drone-imagery and augmented reality), and continuing to add advanced functionality to our favorite existing Esri products like ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online.

We also got to hear from inspiring thought leaders and innovators who shared their experiences using GIS to improve the world. Our team was moved by Kadaster’s work creating tactile maps for the blind and visually impaired community and enraptured by Dr. Steve Boyes (National Geographic Society) exciting freshwater studies in the Okavango Delta.

2023 Esri UC plenary
2023 Esri UC plenary

Blue Raster’s Fish Taco Night

A beloved Blue Raster tradition, we hosted our annual Fish Taco Night on Tuesday. We had a great turnout where we took over a beachside roof-deck to enjoy tasty fish tacos (a San Diego delicacy) and few cold beverages while looking out over the Pacific Ocean. Thanks to everyone who came out for this 2023 Esri UC event!

2023 Esri UC Fish Taco Night

Conference Social Events and Balboa Park Party

After long days of technical sessions, connecting with attendees at the booth, and meeting with clients and colleagues during the 2023 Esri UC, our team had to get serious about having fun at the several conference social events! Since Blue Raster works in so many different industries our team split up to divide and conquer the socials focused on Sustainable Worlds, AEC, Business, State and Local Government, Women in GIS, and Young Professionals Network. Blue Raster is known for our geospatial work and achievements, but we are also a really fun group of people to have at your social event 😊


Meeting with clients in person

As the largest GIS conference in the world, many of our clients and collaborators were also in attendance. We used the opportunity to meet in person to talk about ongoing and future projects with some of the people we’ve only known virtually. And while we love the benefits of serving clients remotely, it’s always more fun to say hi in person!

Technical Sessions and User Presentations

Three days is not enough time to attend the hundreds of technical sessions throughout the conference—especially when there were so many topics and tools our team was excited to learn about! Luckily, many of the sessions were recorded and will be available to view online soon. Here are some of the favorite sessions our team attended (hopefully the wide range of topics and tools shows how varied our expertise is):

Advanced Map Automation with Python - GIS Analyst Anna Wegbreit attended this session because of the advanced map automation our team has been working on with AAA. Wow! It was so exciting to see an overflowing room of other cartographic professionals who use ArcPro, Python and arcpy to automate their map creation processes. One takeaway is using the CIM to get and set super fine-grain details in the properties of production maps and layouts.

ArcGIS Parcel Fabric: Introduction to Record Driven Workflows -  Don’t let “introduction” fool you, this session was highly technical and advanced, especially if you use Parcel Fabric like we do at Blue Raster! This session was highly informative, with a focus on Parcel Fabric Records, which are a keystone component of the Parcel Fabric Information Model.

Map Wizardry and Thematic Mapping - If you’ve ever gotten to attend a session with John Nelson and Ken Fields, you know that not only are they hilarious, but their maps and overall approach to cartography and map-making are truly inspiring.

Team bonding

We love working with our remote team virtually, but the UC was a great opportunity to bond with our colleagues in person. We had a great time going out after the conference for food, drinks, and fun. Italian food, a dueling pianos bar, and a hidden speakeasy are just three easy places to get to know your colleagues better.


Exploring Commercial Real Estate from a New Perspective: Blue Raster Partners with AerialSphere

Selecting the right location for a commercial real estate project can be daunting, given the numerous factors that need to be taken into consideration. Often, this is done utilizing an overhead view of properties. Use of an Oriented Imagery Catalog (OIC) from AerialSphere and the Oriented Imagery widget now available from ESRI affords the opportunity to explore properties in an immersive 3D environment.

In this Commercial Real Estate application, Blue Raster:

  • Utilized Open Street Map data from ESRI Living Atlas
  • Configured multiple filters based on commercial real estate needs - submarket, available square footage, parking cost, and year built
  • Built Dashboard and 3D Scene elements to dynamically reflect filters applied
  • Integrated imagery from AerialSphere to show a point of view from a specific location or floor
  • Generated dynamic viewsheds to illustrate what can be seen from that location
  • Calculated travel time analysis polygons for multiple modes of transportation (both walking and driving)
OIC Oriented Imagery Catalog

Blue Raster configured an ArcGIS Experience Builder application to aid in the exploration of relevant commercial real estate data in a 3D scene.  Utilizing this application, real estate investors can hone in on the properties that meet their needs with specific parameters, and easily traverse the map to further explore the properties.  The integration of 360 degree imagery from AerialSphere provides a more immersive experience, and allows the user the ability to pan, zoom in, zoom out, and explore viewsheds from a given vantage point.  This can make all the difference in understanding the suitability of a site.

While this solution was originally developed to aid in the exploration of commercial real estate properties, this technology can be implemented for a number of other industries. Contact us today to see how we can use this technology in your organization!

Thanks to Kat Clifton and the team at AerialSphere for their collaboration on this case study.

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TrailsMV Mobile Application: Explore Martha’s Vineyard’s Nature Trails

TrailsMV mobile app is the modern day treasure map   

The TrailsMV mobile application is an immersive experience developed by Blue Raster in collaboration with the Sheriff's Meadow Foundation (SMF) and their conservation partners. Designed to cater to hiking enthusiasts, residents, and visitors of Martha's Vineyard, MA, TrailsMV offers an interactive guide to over 220 miles of public trails spread across one hundred protected properties. 

This easy-to-use app allows users to: 

  • browse places to explore through the interactive map 
  • explore Martha's Vineyard trails with confidence through in depth property details 
  • get important alerts about trail closings and guided hikes    
  • learn about the island's rich natural history 
TrailsMV Mobile

TrailsMV provides a comprehensive resource for adventurers through detailed maps, property descriptions, and upcoming event listings. Moreover, users can access curated excursions, informative seasonal articles, and stay informed about upcoming events.

Featured in The New York Times, TrailsMV is an interactive guide to 220+ miles of public trails on more than 100 protected properties across the island of Martha’s Vineyard.

One key feature of the project is the seamless integration of ArcGIS Online data and maps with relevant contextual information, such as photos, text, and directions. Blue Raster developed flexible and repeatable backend workflows to consume dynamic content in the application. Leveraging Survey123 allows the team at Sheriff's Meadow Foundation the power to update, add, or remove content from the app without need for a developer to manually make modifications.

TrailsMV was built using AppStudio for ArcGIS and the ArcGIS Runtime API for Qt (Runtime). With Esri’s recent retirement announcement of ArcGIS AppStudio, Blue Raster will work with Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation on migration options to a new framework.

Incorporating the power of ArcGIS Online, Survey123, and thoughtful design, TrailsMV Mobile Application brings the beauty of Martha's Vineyard's trails to the fingertips of users, empowering them to explore, connect with nature and others, and discover what the island has to offer.

Featured in The New York Times, is an interactive guide to 220+ miles of public trails on more than 100 protected properties across the island of Martha’s Vineyard.

Download TrailsMV Today

Available in the Apple AppStore and the Google Play Store!

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What Are the Discovery, Execution, and Maintenance Phases of ArcGIS Enterprise Cloud Migration?

If you’re thinking about deploying ArcGIS Enterprise on cloud environments then it’s important to know what the discovery, execution, and maintenance phases of ArcGIS Enterprise cloud migration entail. At Blue Raster, we’re known for our extensive experience in deploying and managing cloud services and delivering top-notch ArcGIS Enterprise cloud migration support. In fact, our employees hold the following certifications to ensure the smoothest ArcGIS Enterprise cloud migration experience: 

  • Esri Enterprise System Design Professional 
  • Enterprise Geodata Management Professional  
  • Enterprise Administration Professional 
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner Network Select Consulting Partner 
  • AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner 
  • AWS Certified Security Specialty 
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect 
  • Microsoft Partner Network 

Our certified team will collaborate with you at every stage of your ArcGIS Enterprise cloud migration, so you’re always informed and onboard for every decision. We aim for every objective to meet your budget and scheduleno matter the cloud computing platform you choose to move forward with. 

We’ve broken down the discovery, execution, and maintenance phases of an ArcGIS Enterprise cloud migration so you can have a better understanding of how hands-on our process is! 

The Discovery Phase of ArcGIS Enterprise Cloud Migration

Before any cloud migration action can take place, our experts will meet with you to dive into your current architecture, GIS assets, and workflows. The discovery phase of an ArcGIS Enterprise cloud migration allows us to understand how your organization is currently using GIS, as well as the ways you want to enhance its capabilities in the future. By determining what is currently working well for your organization and what is not, we’re able to: 

  1. Choose the right cloud computing platform and architecture  
  2. Define the type of scalability you need and pinpoint the solutions that will increase your performance levels 
  3. Control how you want your data to be accessed, used, and stored 

Most importantly, we will discuss together the fundamental ways that geospatial data and analysis support your operations. Once we feel like we have a good understanding of your organization and its needs, we will move on to the execution phase of the ArcGIS Enterprise cloud migration process. 

The Execution Phase of ArcGIS Enterprise Cloud Migration

When we’ve covered the critical bases of your organization, our certified professionals will craft a cloud migration plan that helps you accomplish all of your goals. If there are tools or workflows that are not working well for your organization, we will exclude them from the execution of the migration process.  

We will work hand-in-hand with your IT team and other key stakeholders throughout the execution phase of the ArcGIS Enterprise cloud migration to ensure all of the cloud services integrate well with your existing systems and align with your overall technical roadmap. During the execution phase, we will focus on installing and deploying ArcGIS Enterprise and any other necessary or desired components that were decided upon during discovery. This will all be documented in your finalized architecture. Our team will also: 

  1. Assist with the configuration of user accounts and permissions 
  2. Implement a relational database management system as a datastore for GIS data 
  3. Set up a secure host for GIS administration 
  4. Ensure appropriate security measures and backups are in place 

The Maintenance Phase of ArcGIS Enterprise Cloud Migration

After completing the execution phase, our experts are readily available to support you with IT trainings, ongoing consultation services, proactive monitoring and health checks, and on-demand support services for any technical issues that may arise when administering and using ArcGIS Enterprise in the cloud. The maintenance phase of ArcGIS cloud migration may be the third step, but it’s not the end of our partnership. We’re here for you and your team whenever you need us! 

Expert Guidance for Your ArcGIS Enterprise Cloud Migration

Learn more about our ArcGIS Enterprise cloud migration plans and get started with our team today! 

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