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Creating the Right Tools for Local Government

I am not handy, nor am I good at fixing things. Luckily I have a father-in-law who is, so I often barter my technical abilities for his handyman skills. I am, however, familiar with one of the most basic rules of any home improvement project, use the right tool for the right job.

Everyone knows the rule. It applies to many situations, not just fixing a leaky kitchen sink (apparently duct tape is NOT the right tool in that case). But for as often as I apply this rule in the world of technology, I frequently fail to do so in the physical realm.

Admittedly some of this falls to ignorance. I don’t really know what the right tool is or even called. And I have a pretty anemic toolbox, so finding the right tool is unlikely, unless it’s a screwdriver, hammer, drill, or pliers.

When we undertook the design of OMS, the “right tool” adage quickly became a core design principle. From the outset, we understood people within a local government organization needed different tools depending on the circumstance. So we threaded-in a level of continuity to make every tool feel familiar.

It started with understanding that a local government field professional needs different tools than someone in an office. It seems obvious, but unfortunately many mobile interfaces work around the limitations of mobile devices rather than capitalizing on the advantages they bring when coupled with a finely tuned and focused interface.

This ‘right tool’ principle applies over and over again in the design of OMS; a flexible interface that allows both an administrator and an end-user to manipulate and configure the presentation of their environment.

Let’s talk maps for a minute. Esri maps are powerful in the right hands, but some people just feel more familiar with something simpler, like the same map used to find their Saturday night dinner reservation. OMS takes into account that different users have different needs and preferences.

Now before the GIS professionals in the room cry foul, there is another place we applied the ‘right tool’ rule — our Esri platform integration. Esri creates software that does incredible things with spatial data; I have spent many hours head-down in ArcMap analyzing data. OMS lets you seamlessly synchronize your data to Esri, so when you need a tool for heavy spatial analysis and general GIS wizardry you can choose the right one.

If you should ever observe me trying to drive a wood screw into masonry, don’t panic. At least you can breathe easy knowing that at Cartegraph we are experts in building software, not in home improvement.

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