As part of its continuing effort to expand the use of geographic information system (GIS) technology among web, mobile and other developers, Redlands, Calif.-based Esri has launched GIS Tools for Hadoop.

The toolkit removes the obstacles of building map applications for developers to truly capitalize on geoenabling big data within Hadoop — the open source data management framework. Developers now will be able to answer the where questions in their large data stores.

"Hadoop's method of processing volumes of information directly addresses the most significant challenge facing IT today," says Marwa Mabrouk, product manager at Esri. "Enabling Hadoop with spatial capabilities is part of Esri's continued effort to derive more value from big data through spatial analysis."

Processing and displaying big data on maps requires functionality that core Hadoop lacks. GIS Tools for Hadoop extends the Hadoop platform with a series of libraries and utilities that connect Esri ArcGIS to the Hadoop environment. It allows ArcGIS users to export map data in HDFS format – Hadoop's native file system – and intersect it with billions of records stored in Hadoop. Results can be either directly saved to the Hadoop database or reimported back to ArcGIS for higher-level geoprocessing and visualization.

"GIS Tools for Hadoop not only introduces spatial analysis to Hadoop but creates a looping workflow that pulls big data into the ArcGIS environment," says Mansour Raad, senior software architect at Esri. "It provides tools for Hadoop users who need to visualize Big Data on maps."