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WhiteStar Navigator

Does "Better" Data Pay for Itself?

Selina Sandoval

By Robert C. White, Jr.

Better is, well - better. That's a basic value here at WhiteStar, and we take for granted that the amount of effort we put into accurate mapping and quality control of our data produces a superior product. But it's good to question beliefs occasionally, and so we put together a focus group while in Houston to explore what matters to you when it comes to land grid.

When you put a group of people together to discuss a topic, it's likely that opinions will vary widely, and boy, did they ever diverge - ranging from "until we get sued, nobody cares" to "the more users we serve, the more accurate this needs to be". Heated debate certainly ensued.

At the end of the day, many data-related decisions come down to economics. And so we ask the question - does better data pay for itself? And what is "better", exactly?

Let's start with what better means to us. When you are preparing land grid polygons, there are a number of factors involved. It's simple matter to just acquire some source data from somewhere and toss it in your dataset - but that's just not good enough. To create a quality base, you need to groom it and clean it - making sure pieces don't overlap, corners are in the right place, boundaries coincide correctly with related datasets, with the most accurate data taking precedence.

Most importantly, the land base needs to be contiguous, without gaps or overlaps, and free of duplication and fragments - and this is a big one. Why? The answer to that takes us full circle back to economics.

Automated mapping. Automated systems are fantastic - but they generally aren't smart enough to know what to do when they encounter illogical results. And so, human intervention is required to resolve what to do with a specific mapping task. What is your cost for someone to touch a polygon? $10? $50? Extrapolate that over the extent of your leaseholdings, and math dictates that reducing the percentage of data questions directly impacts your bottom line.

If you can reduce your number of data questions from 30% to 10% by using a better land grid base, how much is that worth in both time and money? Quite a lot, in most cases.

There are more benefits to be had - and we'll explore them in future Navigators, looking at the ROI impact of updating processes and value of metadata, risk mitigation, and how accurate data contributes to effective and efficient planning.   

Back to our focus group - across the board, reliance on spatial data products is increasing rapidly throughout the organization. More and more people are making crucial and expensive business decisions based on information you provide. And we're proud to provide you with the best land grid base we can.

Because better IS better.

Esri Petroleum Conference 2012 Roundup

We joined 1,500 of our closest friends the first week of May at the annual Esri Petroleum Conference (PUG) in Houston. The conference keeps getting better and better, and is a great forum to come together, share expertise, see new products, and take a look at the future of GIS in our industry.

Our own Robert C. White, Jr. was invited to take the stage and participate in a panel discussion on leadership. Topics of note included Esri's upcoming curated land base, which illustrates clearly their commitment to combining the best technology with the best content-provider partners. WhiteStar is looking forward to participating.

In general, the focus on mobile continues, and ArcGIS Online is opening up new options for data delivery and collaboration. As Robert noted after the conference, "We've reached a real critical mass of expertise and technology right now, and there is a shift from "what should we develop" to "what are the best practices and how do we best implement in our day-to-day world". 

See you next year!