The User Conference this year focussed on the use of spatial technology for the needs of people and included presentations on applications for the environment, conservation, disaster management, climate change, and development. The main theme of the conference was Applying Geography Everywhere.
Esri’s President, Jack Dangermond officially opened The 36th Esri International User Conference on 20th July 2015 at the San Diego Convention Centre, with an inspiring presentation on the way that Esri technology is being used in a multitude of application areas. The opening video focussed on human history and how our planet works. The video reflected on the negative impact of human intervention on a path of unsustainability and, by applying geographic knowledge, how we can make smarter decisions in our homes, communities and across nations. Emphasis was placed on the decisions that should be made now to ensure sustainability on a global scale.
Jack Dangermond then opened the plenary session presentations announcing that there were attendees from over 130 countries and, with the theme of GIS Around the World, emphasised global sustainability. Initially Jack asked the audience to stand up and tell each other about themselves. This successful request set the scene for a friendly close community feeling which proved to be the atmosphere that lasted throughout the conference.
Being used as an early focus for the opening plenary session, many impressive maps were submitted by users from around the world with a series of themes on: -
- Environmental Monitoring and Assessment – noise, sea level rise, pollution and how these impact the planet.
- Natural Resources – agriculture, marine planning and habitat, mining, and forestry.
- Energy Resources – solar and wind energy, offshore production, and exploration analysis.
- Land Information – land base mapping, parcel administration, property management, and tax assessment.
- Urban and Regional Planning – land use, town planning, city modelling, and redevelopment for use by the elderly and disabled.
- Utilities and Telecommunications – asset management, cell phone coverage, network analysis, 3D utility models, pipeline analysis, and meter management.
- Buildings and Campus Management – space planning and utilization, smart cities, and transit design.
- Business Analysis and Management – service centre locations, business locator, health analysis, financial institutions, real estate prospecting, and insurance assessments.
- Human Health Patterns – infant mortality, child treatment, cardiac patients, Ebola disease and response, and access to health facilities.
- Public Safety and Security – crime surveillance, fire station location and response, crimes against humanity, fraud mitigation, and terrorist monitoring and response.
- Natural Disasters – risk analysis, earthquakes, typhoons, hurricane surges, real-time monitoring of floods, fires and severe weather, and citizen alert through smart handheld devices.
- Cartography – nautical charts, topographic maps, aeronautical charts, military cartography, and conservation maps.
- Story Maps – A unique Esri application to access information relating to various topics via map information including, hometown heroes, disasters, historic information, plus many other topics.
- Open Data and Citizen Engagement – polling centres, public comments, crime reporting, community activities, and citizen science.
- Open Access Portals – making web services open to society.
The wide diversity of applications and usage categories where Esri technology is deployed truly does represent a 360-degree spectrum where GIS and spatial technology is being used in every possible application range around the world.
Jack Dangermond then presented two special awards to Esri users who are using the technology to its advantage. The first award, The Enterprise GIS Award was presented to Irish Water and accepted by Paul Ahern who was instrumental in the implementation of ArcGIS throughout the organisation for the entire country within twelve months. A remarkable achievement, as Irish Water started from scratch without any previous geospatial data.
The Presidents Award, a Jack Dangermond personal award, was presented to The National Audubon Society, a conservation organisation. ArcGIS is being used as a connective medium throughout the entire organisation that connects volunteers, partners, and conservationists. David Yarnold and Doreen Whitley, who extolled in the use of ArcGIS for detailed and accurate spatial information implementation for the whole organisation, accepted the award.
The awards were warmly recognised by the audience and very much appreciated by the award winners.
Jack went on to talk about GIS Vision and the overall theme of the User Conference - Applying Geography Everywhere. Commencing with the increasing challenges that our world is under, Jack explained how geography is an integrating science of our world that helps with the understanding of global challenges and activities. Jack then explained how GIS is being used globally to enable an understanding of the planet and the number of application areas where the technology is being used. The theme of the presentation focussed on the environment and the protection of the planet, and how GIS technology is helping to sustain global environments, which leads to rational action.
The presentation continued with how GIS is Helping us be Smarter and how Geo-Enlightenment insights can help with automation and visualisation of the planet and understanding how geo-professionals operate.
Jack then went on to explain how GIS is evolving with new and advanced applications, implementation of GIS in the wide spectrum of usage, and how the content and technology integrates many innovations. These new advances in GIS will allow the implementation of advanced applications to help environmental, conservational and collaborative sectors. The advances in Web GIS and Mobile GIS technology is being developed and used to advance the number of industry sectors where GIS can and will be utilised in the future.
Later on during the first day we were presented with a video and live presentation from the Esri ArcGIS development team that builds GIS applications for their clients in the many industry sectors. It was explained how the development team use templates, APi’s and SDK’s to develop applications that include such techniques as Spatial Analysis, Spatial Statistics, Smart Mapping, Online Web Apps, Real-Time GIS, Big Data, 3D Apps, Imagery, Charting, and International Applications continuing the theme of Applying Geography Everywhere.
Further presentations were made by an Esri technical team entitled What’s Trending with Web GIS and Vector Map Tiles. Both presentations were extremely informative and drew a very positive response from the audience.
The plenary sessions on the first day were all very well presented with many of the audience reflecting back on them during the rest of the User Conference. The sessions highlighted the use of GIS technology in the fields of human needs to include environment, conservation, climate change, disaster management, health, and many more. The presentations featured applications developed for worldwide use extending the continuing theme of Applying Geography Everywhere.
The exhibition opened on Day 2 with close to 300 exhibitors and comprised a number of specialist areas. These included areas specifically for Esri International offices, education and training, production, Esri partners and also an area set-aside for new Esri partners identified as the Startup Zone. Also on the upper floor there was located the Map Gallery, a very impressive display of cartographic maps from Esri users worldwide.
Esri Startup Zone
This unique Startup Zone was specifically designed to showcase the smaller entrepreneurial start-up companies and also established companies that are new to Esri. There were 35 businesses that have integrated spatial functionality within their products to enhance their product capabilities. The atmosphere in the unique Startup Zone was extremely cordial with many organisations communicating with each other, exchanging information and exhibiting their passion as well as their products.
Jeff Dahlke the MD of Remote GeoSystems, a well known contributor to GeoConnexion news items, became a member of the Esri Startup programme in January 2015 and is impressed with Esri’s developer network which provides access to all the developer toolsets and software available. Jeff also noted that the cost of the Esri software for Startups could be prohibitive, so access to Esri software and developer tools enabled Remote GeoSystems to develop a suite of Esri based products in a very short timescale. If Remote GeoSystems had not had access to the developer tools and software Jeff said they would be further behind in their development plans than anticipated. Jeff also mentioned that as an Esri partner they get introductions to Esri clients to help provide solutions much quicker than if they had to hire their own sales team.
Geoff Kell the MD of Pufferfish Displays, a UK company who have just become an Esri partner, felt that having a stand in the Startup area offered great potential to connect with other Esri partners and users to further promote their products worldwide. The link to Esri also helps with introductions to potential clients who could benefit from Pufferfish 360 degree display technology.
Datacapable, another Esri Startup, have just announced the integration of Esri’s ArcGIS to its own product UtiliSocial, a social engagement platform designed specifically to meet the demands of Utilities in their customer engagement. Senior software engineer Luke Pint, pointed out how they benefited from setting up a stand at the User Conference by being able to discuss their products with Esri’s Utility clients and make further contact with Esri users.
Interesting Esri Partners
Accuweather are a long time partner of Esri and through their founder, Dr. Joel Myers, delivered a Big Data weather track keynote presentation and also exhibited their products evolved by using Esri development technology. Paul Raymond, the Director of Product Management explained how they have been around for many years providing accurate weather forecasting data to media organisations worldwide. Their partnership with Esri confirmed that big weather data and GIS is fully compatible and Esri’s mapping capabilities provide an excellent platform to deliver the most accurate forecast and warnings for many types of locations of Accuweather’s global client base. By using Accuweather forecasting, worldwide organisations can make better decisions based on the global climatic information available, thus enhancing their efficiency and profits.
A well-established member of the Geospatial community with an industry standard format for imagery, Mr Sid, Lizardtech spoke about their long and cordial partnership with Esri. According to Jeff Young, Lizardtech’s Global Business Development Director, as Esri grew in its marketplace and Lizardtech focussed on imagery compression with a format to allow the movement of image data through the Arc environment, and certainly through ArcGIS today, this provided the cornerstone of their close relationship. Working very closely with the technologists at Esri provides increasing benefits with a mutually close working relationship that expands to other departments. Esri has implemented the Lizardtech SDK to allow the integration of not only compressed image data but also point cloud data that is used to build 3D surface models. As Jeff explained, many of the Esri customers use historic imagery data in Mr Sid format to monitor environmental changes that go back over decades, not just years, to provide an accurate and informative change history. The relationship also extends to the defence industries where Lizardtech’s imagery data is integrated into Esri data that can then be used for whatever defence purpose is necessary. Other areas where Lizardtech and Esri collaborate are in Local and National Government where Esri have a massive presence around the world.
Through various acquisitions over time, including TeleAtlas, TomTom have been an Esri partner since 1991. By working with Esri, Darren Cottage, TomTom’s VP of Sales and Marketing for Europe and North America, explained how Esri’s interest in real-time data enables a close relationship as TomTom’s primary expertise is in real-time information. TomTom Geospatial collects data that is not only for their own use but also used by Esri and other partners. Data collected by TomTom since 2008 amounts to over 13 trillion GPS locations – now this is truly Big Data - which is being used globally. By using APi’s, TomTom creates online traffic and real-time applications including traffic statistics, in fact anything transportation oriented can be developed using TomTom’s APi’s.
There was an exceptional amount of focus on Esri partners, many of whom explained that, by using Esri technology to build specific applications for their own client base, they are confident of operating within a safe environment with leading technology and exceptional support from not only the Esri technical team but also in sales and marketing.
Party by the Bay
On the final evening Esri held their closing Party by the Bay which was located on San Diego’s waterfront park. The hospitality was exceptional, with free tours around the historic Maritime Museum and many forms of entertainment were on display including gymnastic dancing in the parks’ water feature, and rock, folk, blues and country bands on a number of stages located around the park. A good time was had by all at this remarkable Geospatial User Conference, concluding with an impressive 15 minute firework display over The Bay.
The 2016 Esri User Conference will take place at the same venue from 27th June to 1st July.
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