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Why your GIS staff should attend BIS TechCon 2016

The BIS TechCon 2016 will be taking place from November 29 to December 2, 2016, in Frisco, Texas. This year our theme is “Be a Game Changer” and as part of our focus, we will be running a number of events geared toward GIS Technicians. GIS Technicians play a vital part in our industry: their skill-sets include digitizing maps, customizing and manipulating databases, and utilizing applications to suit the purpose. Our industry is constantly changing and evolving with new technologies and opportunities; part of our TechCon 2016 is devoted to empowering GIS Technicians to make the most of their role.
We will be demonstrating existing and new interactive mapping tools, as well as related products designed to maximize the efficiency of the GIS department. This will include showcasing best practice for submitting deeds, introducing new products to help the technicians get even more out of GIS, and how to maximize revenue through data analysis. We will also be holding a roundtable Q&A for all attending GIS Technicians, together with our own experts, where we expect a lively and intelligent discussion amongst like-minded peers. Your GIS team won’t want to miss this event! For more information, you can register here.

Game Changer Guest: Luke Wade

BIS TechCon 2016 will take place between November 29 through to December 2 at the Embassy Suites, Frisco, Dallas. We’ve already lined up a number of special guests for the conference and our latest guest was born and raised in Erath County, Texas. This individual comes from a talented family although in his childhood he nearly died from first meningitis and later severe heat stroke. A paintballing accident ruined a promising career as a dancer but unperturbed, our special guest instead turned to music. He, together with his band, released an album in 2010. Followed by another in early 2014. That same year, he made it to The Voice season 7 quarterfinals having been mentored by coach Pharrell Williams. In the summer of 2016, he is touring with Edwin McCain, Toad The Wet Sprocket, Kris Allen and Casey Abrams.
He is, of course, Luke Wade. The renowned soul singer from Dublin, Texas! Luke will be joining us at our closing session at the conference sharing a number of his favorite songs. You won’t want to miss this! For more information, you can call BIS Consulting on (800)247-9045 or visit our conference webpage at bisconsultants.com/techcon.

BIS Consulting Are At The 2016 TAAO & ICTA Conference

TAAO 2016 AD
BIS Consulting is pleased to announce that we are sponsoring the 2016 annual TAAO & ICTA Conference, considered to be the premier event for property tax professionals. For 2016, the event is being held at the Moody Gardens Hotel in Galveston, Texas, from August 28 through to August 31. TAAO President Sidney Vela has set the dress standard to be casual. This year BIS Consulting is a Gold Sponsor for the event as well as exhibiting and sponsoring the Scheduler App. Attendees will be able to keep track of their custom schedule in what is set to be the biggest and best TAAO and ICTA conference yet.

BIS Consulting will also be showcasing our industry-trusted portfolio of products in Booth 305, including our IT knowledge, GIS expertise, and website hosting. There is plenty of time in the schedule between the social, competitions, and of course, accredited business classes to pay us a visit and meet some of the BIS team. Why not drop by, say hello and talk to us about how we can help you and your appraisal district?

BIS is proud to sponsor and provide the TAAO & ICTA Conference App

BIS sponsors and provides 2016 TAAO & ICTA Conference App
BIS Consulting is proud to sponsor the 2016’s TAAO & ICTA Annual Conference Schedule App as well as participate in a Gold Sponsorship for the overall event. The TAAO & ICTA Conference will be taking place at the Moody Garden Hotel in Galveston, Texas from August 28 to 31. Our Schedule App is designed to give attendees a personalized schedule for the conference but it can do so much more! Once an attendee signs into the application, he or she benefits from access to class materials. The schedule app has the ability to integrate with your smartphone’s built-in calendar, and may also send you email reminders detailing when and where you need to be. The app also contains an attendee, sponsor and venue directory with full integration to your social networks, which means it’s easy to see who you know is at the conference – and build connections with attendees you are yet to meet.
The Schedule App is available free of charge for both Android and iPhone platforms with no download or installation required:

From any mobile device, go to taao.bisconsultants.com

To view the schedule from a desktop, go to bisconsultant.com/taao. And if you’re at the TAAO & ICTA Conference, why not drop in to see us at Booth 305? We hope to see you there!

BIS Consulting Welcomes Van Zandt County Appraisal District

BIS Consulting is pleased to give a very warm welcome to Van Zandt CAD, who have joined our family. Van Zandt County is known as the Gateway to East Texas, because of its varied landscape. It is also known as the Free State of Van Zandt and there are a number of different opinions why this is! Van Zandt is located in the north east of Texas and the seat is Canton. Van Zandt borders six counties and has a population of approximately 53,000 spread over 843 square miles.
Van Zandt will be using our Website Hosting, Property Search, and GIS Interactive Map services. You can check out their website here http://vzcad.org/, designed to be easy to navigate for both taxpayers and homeowners. The website is compatible with both mobile and desktop browsers and of course, ensures the CAD remains compliant with state requirements.

BIS Consulting Exhibiting At 82nd TACA Conference

This Sunday, June 12th, the 82nd Tax Assessor-Collectors Association of Texas Annual Conference arrives at the Waco Convention Center, and runs until Thursday, June 16. For 2016 the TACA’s theme is “REACHING OUT, TO RISE UP”, designed to remind and encourage us that we should “REACH OUT” to meet and exceed the needs of our county, colleagues, and employees, and by doing so, we will “RISE UP”.

BIS Consulting is pleased to announce that our team will be attending the conference with a vendor booth. We will be on hand during the conference to answer questions about our services, as well as giving live demonstrations. Look out for our stand and be sure to drop by to say hello, to put a face to a name, and take a look at what we offer! We will be presenting on Sunday evening at 6pm in the Exhibit Hall where you can also enjoy refreshments, but don’t worry if you don’t get to see us on the Sunday as the conference agenda also includes regular morning and afternoon Exhibit Hall breaks. We look forward to seeing you there!

Game Changer Guest Speaker: Chad Prather

Chad Prather has been described as a native Georgian and born-again Texan, that has a little something to say about everything. Actually, he has a lot to say! Chad is the host of Ride TV’s “It’s My Backyard,” an equine talk show shot on location throughout the nation which hosts a relaxed and comedic interview style. He started by delivering short, two minute Youtube videos typically shot from his truck detailing his opinions on life, culture, and family; other videos include bite-sized inspirational videos.

In the summer of 2015, Chad released a viral video titled “Unapologetically Southern”. The video was prompted by an insulting message that Chad received about his southern accent, stating that he did not sound intelligent In his response, he politely reminded the sender of the message that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, nor a person by their accent. Chad has since been interviewed by Fox News, Country Living Magazine, MSN, Southern Living Magazine, and many others. Chad being “unapologetically southern” proved to be his game changing influence on the world and is now using this platform to entertain, enlighten, and encourage.

BIS Consulting is proud to announce that Chad will be speaking at the 2016 BIS TechCon, which is being held from Tuesday, November 29th to Friday, December 2nd at the Embassy Suites in Frisco, Texas. This year’s theme is “Be A Game Changer” and we will explore how to change our own game for the better through a number of informative classes, networking, and most importantly, FUN! For more information on the 2016 BIS TechCon, please visit the conference website at https://www.bisconsultants.com/techcon/ where you can register online or call us at 800-247-9045.

See you at BIS TechCon on November 29th. For now, you can see Chad’s game changing YouTube video below.

Using The GIS Database

A GIS, or Geographical Information System, is designed to handle spatial or geographical data. The information can be captured, stored, analyzed, processed, and manipulated to build reports for all manner of purposes. Sometimes, the data provided by the GIS is used as a framework for further reporting, such as a recent GIS Services’ poster comparing the 2015 Rowlett tornado with one that touched down in 1959.

Bre's PosterThe Rowlett tornado touched down on December 26, 2015. The GIS team was able to use the data to estimate the likely economic land cost of the tornado at $2.7 billion. The 1959 tornado was on the ground for almost fifteen miles longer than the 2015 tornado but was a lesser EF2 storm (the 2015 storm was a EF4 category); it caused less damage at an estimated $1.9 billion in today’s terms. These numbers are impressive but cannot convey the damage and loss of life caused by tornadoes.


Bre Callear from our GIS Team explained that she was interested in looking at the impact of the 2015 tornado because it occurred close to BIS Consulting’s office and at an unusual time of year. By looking through historical tornado data, she noticed that the 2015 and 1959 tornadoes happened in a very similar part of Texas. The team loaded the path of each tornado into the Esri ArcMap software to see that the southern parts overlapped, which led to the comparison between the economic damage caused.

Collin Poster

Collin King, also from our GIS team, has used the tornado data to produce a poster but this was instead designed to determine the safest quadrant to live in Dallas County based on four factors – the safest quadrant was based on coverage, on injuries and fatalities, on the average magnitude of the storm, and ground covered by the tornado per casualty. Collin imported data from the Storm Prediction Center and Government Land Office. Each tornado track was clipped into its respective quadrant and the numbers crunched to answer the questions. The results show that the Northwest quadrant has the least chance of a tornado hitting you based on coverage, but it has the highest ratio of injuries and deaths by land mass. The Southeast quadrant has the lowest average magnitude of storm and ground covered. The Southwest, the safest, has the lowest injury and fatality rate, and best ratio of acreage to injuries and fatalities.

In these two examples, that were presented at SCAUG 2016, the GIS team used tornado data combined with the GIS database for further analysis. However, Bre explained that the data may be combined with many other sources and tasks, but “…the difficulty is finding complete and usable data.”

If you have an idea of what the team can investigate next, let us know in the comments below.

BIS Consulting TechCon 2016 Now Open For Registration

Email Banner - Reg Open-01

The wait is over! BIS TechCon, our second annual conference geared towards appraisal and tax professionals, is now open for registration. Last year, one in five appraisal districts attended and this year we are expecting to be twice as big.

The theme for 2016 is “Be A Game Changer” and we’ll be bringing you a number of interesting and exciting game changing guests, including Unapologetically Southern, Chad Prather. We’re covering a range of topics and subjects based around motivation, reinvigoration, and disruption. Our motivational speakers will remind you that some of the best companies in the world succeeded by trying something different and changing their game. Our classes will guide you on how you can change your game and make a difference in your office and field of work.

Included in your registration is a nightly happy hour with free drinks, team building activities, networking, chances to win outrageous prizes, dinner Thursday night followed by dancing & drinks with an exclusive DJ that you won’t want to miss.

As requested by last year’s attendees, we’ve added an extra day to the conference. Mark your calendars and meet us at the Embassy Suites in Frisco, Texas November 29 – December 2, 2016!

For more info, check out our TechCon page here, email us at conference@bisconsultants.com or call us at 800-247-9045.

Surviving A Ransomware Attack


What is Ransomeware?

Ransomware is the term used to describe malicious code or applications designed to lock users out of their data and demand money in order to release it. An attack typically encrypts the data in one or more drive folders, making it inaccessible without the necessary encryption key, which the authors demand a bounty for. Worst, the ransomware often leaves a single accessible file or two for the purposes of spreading the infection (on a network drive) and providing instructions of how to contact the hackers to pay money to obtain your data. Some ransomware attacks prevent the computer from booting up and instead display the hacker’s demands.

Preventing Ransomware

How can we protect ourselves against ransomware? There are two sides to this – prevention and cure and as the old saying goes, “prevention is better than cure.” Preventing an attack is easier than having to deal with the aftermath and here there are some basic rules to follow. These are the same basic anti-virus rules to follow because ransomware is a type of computer virus. The first means of preventing a ransomware attack, therefore, is to ensure that your antivirus software is properly configured. This means ensuring it is quickly and continiously updated and it is set to run a full machine virus scan at least once a week, ideally when the computer is otherwise idle so as not to disrupt users.

Another part is to ensure that desktop and server operating systems are kept up to date – don’t ignore those Windows Update notifications! Keeping the operating system up to date ensures that all security patches are applied, which can help prevent system vulnerabilities from being exploited. Again, computers can be set to apply software updates when idle so as not to disrupt the user.

It’s important for businesses to ensure that the router is securely locked down, as a compromised router can potentially grant hackers access to your network. This means navigating to the router address on your network, logging in and changing the settings from here.

If you weren’t expecting it, don’t touch it!

The final part of the prevention side of ransomware protection is that of the users: here, it is important that individuals understand their responsibilities, but it is also important that we disallow certain websites and functions that could easily allow a virus to slip through. This means not downloading unexpected attachments including Word documents, Excel sheets and, especially, ZIP files. It’s possible to block most of these messages or websites from opening. Also, users should not click unexpected links in emails. If you weren’t expecting it, don’t touch it!

To summarise; prevention means keeping your antivirus and operating system updated, locking down your router and keeping control of where users browse to and what they click on. However, there is some good news: clients using the BIS IT Maintenance plan benefit from our team taking care of these issues for you! We ensure your virus scans are completed, Windows Updates are pushed to devices, and for Exchange clients, we configure the Trend Micro web and spam filters to keep malicious content away from web pages and emails. We even check your router configuration to keep it safe and secure.

Curing Ransomeware

Okay – so despite your best efforts, something snuck by and now you have a ransomware attack on your hands. First things first: BIS does not negiotiate with hackers and we don’t believe you should too! The next thing to do is to secure the problem and stop the spread of the virus. This may mean isolating a machine from the network, which if it is a network folder, might mean preventing access to this part of the drive. Look for a cleansing tool online to remove the virus from infected files before you consider recovering your data otherwise you can simply catch the same infection a second time.

Paying for your data is rewarding their malicious attack on your data. It is better to discourage their activity by recovering your data, but this does not mean attempting to decrypt the files. Instead, we recommend restoring the last known good copy of the data – it means securely wiping the infected files from the drive and restoring from the last known good backup.

Here again for BIS IT Maintenance clients, the team here will restore your workstation and server’s data and important files from our verified backups. Our systems regularily backup your computers, including the contents of the My Documents, to allow for the information to be restored should the worst happen.

More about BIS IT Maintenance…

Although 2015’s Snapchat photo leak put online security into the headlines, BIS Consultants have been keeping clients data and infrastructure safe for a lot longer. If you are worried about online security and would like to know more about the BIS IT Maintenance, you can call us on 800-247-9045 or email us at either bmartin@bisconsultants.com or bkay@bisconsultants.com.

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