iSMART WebGIS delivered “in the
cloud” as Software as a Service (SaaS):
Powerful GIS, Universal Access
White Paper by eSpatial
2) Benefits of GIS to Business and
The value that Geographic Information Systems (GIS) bring to business and government
3) GIS Evolution
organizations has been long recognized. In recent years, advances in technology
4) SaaS & Cloud Computing
and changes in how GIS is delivered, led by organizations such as eSpatial
and influenced by consumer mapping applications, are bringing the benefits of GIS
5) eSpatial’s WebGIS as SaaS:
Powerful GIS, Universal Access to a much wider audience.
Open GIS standards have cleared the way for the cost of GIS software to come down
through competition. Significant advances in corporate GIS technology and deployment
techniques are making users more productive and reducing training needs. Mapping,
visualization, animation, charting, spatial analysis, data management, usability
and interoperability standards have improved dramatically. Enterprise GIS and Mobile GIS
are expanding the uses and usability of the Geographic Business Intelligence, taking it out
of the hands of GIS experts and into everyday use.
Perhaps most importantly the Internet and web-based technology is moving corporate GIS
away from its desktop and server constraints; GIS functionality can now be provided
to everyone through a browser. This is leading to a wholesale change in the way GIS
is deployed culminating in eSpatial’s WebGIS which runs in the cloud and is delivered
as Software as a Service (SaaS). eSpatial’s WebGIS dramatically simplifies procurement
processes, improves security and reduces the cost, timescale and complexity of GIS
implementation projects. These changes are all helping to bring GIS up from the basement
and into the mainstream of business and government operations, for the benefit
of organizations of all sizes.
Benefits of GIS to Business and Government
iSmart WebGIS Location is important – even today, when so much business is transacted in a virtual
running in the Cloud on environment, the physical location of assets, services, customers, prospects or competitors
can’t be ignored. Geospatial Information Systems (GIS), such as eSpatial’s WebGIS, are the
state of the art tools that provide the capability to analyze data in relation to its location and
to visualize the results in easily understood maps that dramatically increase the value and
utility of that information.
GIS offers a single solution that performs a number of different jobs at once, and combines
the results to turn data from many sources into effective, actionable information.
GIS technology brings together common database operations such as query and statistical
analysis with the unique visualization and geographic analysis benefits offered by maps. These abilities
distinguish GIS from other information systems and make it valuable for use in a wide range
of applications to solve problems and plan ahead by looking at data in a way that is quickly understood
and easily distributed to the relevant audience. GIS addresses questions and problems related to location
proximity, conditions, trends and patterns such as:
• Where things are – assets - customers – outlets – staff – tracking
• What’s inside an area – potential customers – suitable distributors – territory splits –
stores near schools – recycling facilities
• What’s nearby – competitors – resources – repair crew
• What quantities - sales by area – crimes by area – market size – outlets
• What affects it – customer demographics – drive times – competitor positioning –
environmental risks – planning restrictions
• Where is the reported problem – infrastructure failure – abandoned car – street light out
• How do I get there – routing – travelling salesman – scheduling
• What do I do there – work orders – detailed designs – inventory schedules
• What if – flood plane analysis – environmental risks – disaster planning
Location or geographic relationships are inherent in up to 80 per cent of business information, which means
GIS has multiple applications across all departments in many organizations, for example:
• Sales and Marketing Departments in any Company: Combine area demographics and GIS
in customer penetration studies to determine geographies for customer base growth
• Service Departments in Utilities/Telecoms/Local Government etc: GIS provides unrivalled solutions
for tracking service availability, fault reporting and maintenance scheduling
• Finance Departments in all Companies: GIS offers a highly visual presentation tool for disseminating
sales, revenue and profitability information across the company
• Planning Departments across Industry and Government: GIS is an indispensable tool in local
government planning and for companies extending their networks or developing new locations for stores,
factories, warehouses or distribution centres
The common denominator in GIS is location such as the address of an office, a home or the site of a piece
of infrastructure. The GIS also includes information about the locations, such as the floor space of the office
building, the income bracket of the residents of the house or the precise makeup of the infrastructure asset
including part numbers and maintenance requirements. It is precisely this ability to link location with descriptive
or attribute data that enables organizations to derive so many benefits from GIS. Benefits such as:
• Make Better Business Decisions: By combining geographic and location-related data with other
business data organizations can gain critical insights that help their businesses flourish. With spatial
queries organizations can select trading locations, service zones and customers of interest, and present
the information in thematic maps and reports to facilitate faster and better business decisions.
• Improve Operational Efficiency & Reduce Cost: The information provided by GIS is used to greatly
improve operational planning and management, and to re-engineer and improve business processes.
It offers solutions for route optimization, and maintenance planning and reporting.
• Enhance Customer Service and Increase Sales: Understanding your customers, providing them with
the best possible service and finding more people like them is central to growing sales. GIS helps
organization to identify their best customers and use spatial queries to pinpoint geographic areas where
similar demographics apply in order to prioritize market expansion.
• Better & More Cost-effective Service to Citizens: Government organizations, especially local
government, face tremendous challenges in the current economic climate. They are faced with serving
growing populations, with higher expectations of service, while coping with shrinking resources.
GIS offers an effective and cost effective solution to enhancing key citizen services such
as permit/licensing, planning, maintenance, facilities management and public transport.
Geospatial Information Systems have been around for more than 20 years and are used widely in sectors such
as Government, Utilities, Telecommunications, Oil & Gas etc., but their uptake by the wider business community
has been patchy. So while growth in the GIS usage is steady, it has been constrained by a number of factors;
not least because until recently GIS implementations have been plagued by high cost, long project lead times,
lack of innovation and varying rates of implementation success.
GIS was saddled with financial baggage that set them apart from many other information systems:
heavy start-up costs, complex data integration expenses and long payback periods. This was compounded
by the fact that the GIS software market was traditionally dominated by three or four big players, each trying
to squeeze large profit margins out of a few big buyers.
But the market is changing as GIS products evolve and are simplified; opportunities are expanding with both
new buyers and sellers in the market. Geospatial technology is spreading into entirely new sectors where
untapped demand for geospatially enabled solutions can bring clear benefits. In applications from emergency
and disaster planning through to marketing, real estate, recruitment, telecommunications, utilities, oil and gas
etc., the ability to rapidly build and deploy customized interactive maps combining data from a number
of sources is saving money, improving decision making and increasing operational efficiency.
Changes and advances in technology, lead by more recent market entrants such as eSpatial and influenced
by consumer mapping applications, are conspiring to break the strangle-hold of incumbent GIS vendors.
Consumer mapping technologies, such as Google Maps, Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth,
have popularized GIS in a way that could not have been conceived a few years ago. The public imagination
has been sparked by the availability of web mapping tools and the ubiquity of GPS (Global Positioning Systems)
and location based services. The advent of Web 2.0 technologies are enabling organizations of all sizes, and
even individuals, to benefit from GIS-like functionality that was once the preserve of large organizations with
very deep pockets.
There is a growing acceptance of the geospatial metaphor as an intuitive way to access, analyse and visualize
business data, leading to demand for more usable GIS in corporate and public sector environments,
and at the same time creating opportunities to expand GIS use and expertise.
Cloud Computing Revolution
Added to the advances in mapping technology, the wider software industry is also changing with the advent
of Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud computing. Cloud computing is the provision of computing
capabilities over the Internet – from “the cloud”. It is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often
virtualised computing resources are provided as a service over the Internet. Users need not have knowledge
of, expertise in, or control over the technology infrastructure "in the cloud" that supports them. SaaS is a software
distribution model in which applications are run in the cloud and made available on demand to customers
over the Internet.
SaaS and cloud computing have become impossible to ignore, even in the realm of GIS. In the past four years
they have gained widespread acceptance and adoption around the globe.
SaaS removes the need for end-customers to install and manage their own software solutions and requires
limited or no operational support from a company’s IT organization. SaaS solutions are easy to configure
and maintain, accelerate time-to-results, and provide an affordable, predictable, and scalable subscription-
based pricing model.
These benefits have made SaaS applications attractive to companies of all sizes, especially small and mid-sized
organizations that have restricted IT budgets and fewer technical resources. But SaaS also offers an alternate
procurement strategy for departmental installations in large organizations, circumventing the need to involve
scarce, centralized IT resources in every business application deployment.
The top six reasons why organizations of all sizes are adopting Cloud Computing and SaaS are:
• Lower Total Cost of Ownership
• Buying, installing and maintaining software is expensive. Quite often you don't need all the bells
and whistles that come with the standard corporate packaged application. But when you subscribe
to Software as a Services you only pay for what you use, when you use it – typically on a per month
and per user basis – and you can choose the level of service you want. Many recent studies have pegged
typical savings at up to 30 per cent versus traditional installed software. Added to the convenience of only
buying what you need, when you need it, organizations have reported savings in terms of significantly
reduced back-end hardware and server costs, lower data centre expenses associated with on-going
operations, and a slashing of professional service fees for system implementation and customization.
• In the current economic environment, the ability to quickly and easily turn on new applications with
a significantly lower initial start-up cost and overall cost ownership makes SaaS an attractive offering.
The pay-as-you-go model replaces the need for upfront investment in an era when capital expenditure
budgets are under pressure.
• Enhanced Data Security and Business Continuity
• Organizations new to Cloud Computing or SaaS often pose the question: “How secure is my data
if it’s in the cloud?” The simple answer is a lot more secure than it might be if your data and software were
on-site. Cloud Computing platform vendors take security and privacy very seriously. Amazon for example,
where eSpatial Web GIS as SaaS is hosted, delivers a highly scalable cloud computing platform with high
availability and dependability. The issues of end-to-end security and end-to-end privacy within
the environment are more sophisticated than within a single data centre not facing the Internet. Ensuring
the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of customers’ systems and data is of the utmost importance
to SaaS vendors, as is maintaining trust and confidence.
• The levels of security are based on the Statement on Auditing Standards No. 70: Service Organizations,
Type II (SAS70 Type II) certification. This includes infrastructure redundancies, 24/7 physical security,
and localized fire suppression coupled with multiple firewalls and intrusion detection/vulnerability
scanning to keep all clients’ data safe, secure, and confidential. These measures are much more than
what typical businesses or government organizations can deploy to protect their IT infrastructure
• In a SaaS environment, your applications reside “off-site” with the Cloud Computing vendor.
In the unfortunate event of disaster, you will still be able to access your applications over the Internet from
your home or your company’s hot site to ensure business continuity. As the SaaS industry has grown,
and IT infrastructure, including the Internet, has become more robust and standardized, providers
are able to ensure a level of service that is on par or better than installed software. And systems are
typically monitored round the clock, so that if problems do occur they are identified and fixed faster.
• Always Having the Latest Software Release
• Desktop and server-based software comes with all the headaches of configuration, setup, maintenance
and upgrading. With hosted software, just login to your account and get to work on the latest and most
up-to-date version of the application.
• Upgrading traditional software is a tedious, time-consuming, and risky task. A few short years after
the initial pain of implementation your application will be due for renewal. And it’s not just the software;
your IT department will be faced with the laborious job of installing new servers and operating systems,
as well as upgrading the application software itself. With SaaS the responsibility for all software
and hardware upgrades is no longer yours; it’s the job of the SaaS provider who does all the updating
for you behind-the-scenes.
• With SaaS you have access to new features on a regular and manageable timescale, as SaaS vendors
typically provide version upgrades at regular intervals and in smaller steps. The frequent upgrades enable
you to always use the “latest and greatest” version of the software, while the smaller steps reduce
upgrade risks as well as the need to retrain users on a completely new version of the software.
• Scales to Your Needs, Where and When You Need it
• When you first implement a sophisticated system such as GIS there is always a balance to be achieved
around how much to invest today in order to fulfill the requirements of tomorrow. You don't want to spend
too much money on a large-scale corporate implementation if you don't need it now. You may not be sure
how many people will need access and where, what level of functionality you'll use, or even how much
disk or server space will be required.
• SaaS eradicates the need for such juggling and uncertainty. Because you can subscribe as you need it,
SaaS enables you to scale easily by adding seats, server space, or functionality as the requirement
arises. It’s no longer a case of “one size fits all”.
• It also doesn’t matter where the new users you add are located. Anyone who needs it can access
the applications whether they're at home, at the office, or on the move. Universal accessibility also fosters
greater collaboration with people throughout your organization and around the world, as everyone uses
the same software and can securely share the same data.
• Reduce the Risk
• Investing in large scale software and systems implementations is a risky business. Will the project come
in on time and on budget? Probably not! What if the completed system doesn’t live up to expectations?
Will it meet business requirements or will the employees hate it? There are a lot of software white
elephants out there in large organizations.
• By choosing SaaS you will usually get a risk-free trial period to test the software and ensure that it meets
the needs of the organization. When you do start paying it’ll be month-to-month and you won’t have sunk
large amounts of time and resources into a full development project. If the system stops living
up to requirements you can move on and try something else.
• Lower Carbon Footprint
• Cloud computing can be up 85 per cent more efficient in energy use (and carbon footprint), because
of the flexibility to only subscribe to as much computing resources as the organization needs at any time,
and because the cloud computing environment uses virtual servers rather than dedicated physical
servers, so that the computing capacity of the physical servers in the cloud computing centers
are optimally used.
Cloud Computing and SaaS continue to grow at impressive rates, investor enthusiasm is high, buyer surveys
indicate a dramatic jump in the number of companies considering SaaS applications. Clearly in 2009, the value
proposition and viability of the SaaS model has been proven.
eSpatial’s WebGIS: Powerful GIS, Universal Access
eSpatial has brought the advantages of Web-based GIS together with SaaS in its latest hosted GIS offering.
eSpatial’s WebGIS represents a wholesale change in the way GIS is deployed; simplifying procurement
processes, and reducing the cost and timescale associated with GIS implementation. eSpatial’s WebGIS makes
powerful GIS affordable and accessible to companies of all sizes.
eSpatial’s WebGIS is the first and only online solution that provides a full-function Geospatial Information
System via the Internet, as Software as a Service. It dramatically accelerates time-to-results for stand alone
or cross-enterprise GIS deployments, requires no installation, is easy to configure, integrate and maintain,
and requires limited or no operational support from a company’s IT organization.
• Ease of Use: eSpatial’s WebGIS provides full fuction GIS, previously only expected from desktop
solutions, with the usability of a Web interface and convenience of SaaS. All functions, including editing
are provided in a browser with no downloads, plug-ins or applets required.
• Full GIS Capability: Features include:
Viewing & Analysis: Including pan, zoom, attribute information, search, query, measurement etc.
Labeling: Options include label position and label rotate, font, scalable labels, halo, box, anchor point, offset,
conflict detection as well as SQL query based labels and layer control.
Editing: Full editing capability in the browser with session management, undo, redo, draw, move, delete etc.
Dynamic Snapping: Includes snap options, hot keys, and Auto-trace Union and Convex Hull functions.
Printing: Map plotting with customized layouts and PDF support for vector data scaling
Thematics: Users may define and display thematic queries including by range, discrete values, database
joins, and spatial and SQL functions
Query Builder: To build save and execute queries including multiple attributes and tables
Web-based Administration provides easy-to-use web set-up of spatial data from Oracle and geospatial web
services, including definition of Maps, Styling, Metadata, Auditing, and Role-based access restriction
• Easy Integration: eSpatial’s WebGIS is easy to integrate with existing business systems, business
workflows and existing desktop GIS solutions. The solution is compatible with the leading online CRM
platform Salesforce.com and offers secure upload of your organization’s business and geospatial data.
• Customization: eSpatial provides a set of tools and integration services that enables end-user
organizations to build customized Location Intelligence or Geographic Business Intelligence applications
and deliver them to their workforce online on the eSpatial SaaS platform.
• Rapid and Universal Deployment - Delivered through a conventional web browser, it is easy
to provide access to applications across the organization and to partners and contractors.
In addition eSpatial provides a set of tools and integration services that enables end-user organizations to build
customized Location Intelligence applications and deliver them to their workforce online on the eSpatial
The value that GIS brings to business and government organizations is undisputed. Advances in GIS
technology, Web 2.0 capabilities and Software as a Services are changing expectations leading to demand
for more usable GIS solutions in corporate and public sector environments. As a result the traditional process
of evaluating and purchasing GIS software is changing with business users more commonly involved in driving
purchases and implementation processes. Organizations of all sizes are looking for more cost effective,
flexible solutions and faster time-to-results.
eSpatial’s WebGIS, delivered as SaaS, offers all the well recognized benefits of GIS while avoiding the pitfalls
associated with server and desktop software implementation projects. It combines easy-to-use yet powerful GIS
functionality with universal access and faster integration, to enable more users in more businesses
and government organizations to realize the benefits of geospatial analysis, visualization and maps, faster.
With eSpatial’s solutions, knowledge workers in all organizations can organize and understand complex
business information and processes through the exploitation and analysis of the geographic relationships
inherent in most information. It helps organizations to answer questions, solve problems and plan ahead
by looking at data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared as digital maps.
As a SaaS offering eSpatial’s WebGIS is easy to integrate with existing business data, systems and workflows
enabling organizations to derive maximum value from their investments in enterprise applications and GIS.
eSpatial enables more businesses to use the power of GIS to support better decisions, improve operational
effectiveness and increase sales through better customer service and planning. At the same time government
organizations can easily expand their use of GIS to provide better service to citizens, closer collaboration
and wider distribution of vital information.
To find out more contact firstname.lastname@example.org as SaaS.com
Since 1997, eSpatial has been helping businesses improve efficiencies and reduce costs through effective use of spatial data.
We provide industrial-strength GIS over the web. eSpatial helps organizations to answer questions, solve problems and plan ahead
by looking at data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared as digital maps. eSpatial combines the latest innovations
in software delivery and usability with the traditional performance of in-house GIS to deliver on our vision of “World’s Best Web GIS”.
Our award winning solutions deliver easy-to-use yet powerful GIS functionality over the web providing universal access and faster
integration. US HQ is in Herndon, VA and European HQ is in Dublin Ireland, the company also has sales offices in the UK.
US HQ: eSpatial Inc., 2325 Dulles Corner Boulevard, Suite 500, Herndon, VA 20171, USA. Tel: + 1 703 7886580
EMEA HQ: eSpatial Solutions Ltd., Swords Business Park, Swords, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Tel: + 353 1 8708800