The 30th ESRI International User Conference was the largest gathering of the GIS community the world has ever known. I sat in the plenary today with representatives from 134 countries representing 6,000 organizations and heard how GIS infrastructure is changing collaboration for doing work and managing the enterprise.
Jack Dangermond, ESRI president, welcomed the attendees by encouraging us to get to know each another as a community. He then acknowledged the 200 winners of the Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award for outstanding work in their organizations and industries.
He gave the Making a Difference Award to the Government of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, that uses GIS for managing cities, utilities, health, response, and science. Abu Dhabi has also provided technology and expertise to the global community. His Excellency Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi, secretary-general executive council, Abu Dhabi, accepted the award.
Dangermond also acknowledged the work of the United Nations, especially its cartographic and statistical unit that has diligently worked to bring standards and templates to build a foundation for GIS users throughout the world.
Dangermond talked about his vision of GIS opening the world for everyone--the theme of the conference. "GIS already organizes our geographic information; it is time to share this with the world. Can this be done on a global scale?" he asks. "Converging forces of advancements in computers, the Web, mobile devices, real time measurement and GIS software are making this possible. A Web-based geospatial platform is emerging that is a distributed network of data and services."
The newly formed business City Sourced showed its creation of apps that enable people with location devices to see and report information, allowing them to become involved in their communities and for cities to interact with their citizens.
"Everyone is getting more involved in crowd sourcing and social media," noted Jack. "For example, Twitter tweets can now be georeferenced. There are huge opportunities to bring in new types of real time information from citizens. Responding to these opportunities takes collaboration for sharing data and technology. The geospatial platform is emerging to handle this. In terms of technology, we are about there. Now comes the fun."
"ArcGIS 10 is a complete system for geographic information, for pervasive GIS that is in the cloud, in the office, and in the field. Intelligent maps simplify the complexity of GIS (tables, metadata, workflow, etc.) and hide it behind a map. Geographic information is more than the data--it's all the pieces behind the maps that enable us to share our stories and get our ideas across to others."
"ArcGIS has hundreds of improvements such as fast display, templates, template-based editing, integrated parcel management, map books, and online resources," Jack said. "This makes for a stronger scientific platform for time awareness, advanced spatial analysis, integrated scientific programming, and 3D GIS."
ESRI technology experts demonstrated how ArcGIS is a system that can be used in a wide collaborative effort wherein the enterprise is connected to everyone else. Look for information about these among the UC plenary blog posts, or watch the videos at www.esri.com/uc. These include demonstrations on community maps, ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS.com, IOS for iPhone and iPad, productivity in ArcGIS 10, the integration of Python scripting (Bob Pool of Clark County, Washington), imagery, GIS processing integration, ArcGIS Network Analyst, and analysis using 3D and new space and time enhancements. Also, Barney Krucoff, geospatial technologist for Washington, D.C., talked about the value of contributing data to ArcGIS online.
The President's Award was given to the City of Frisco, Texas, which has embedded GIS into the structure of the community from the school district to health care, to incident response. Paul Siebert, the city's assistant fire chief, came on the stage to the sound of flashing lights and alarms. Dressed in firefighter gear, he showed all the ways GIS is used in responding to an early morning smoke alarm from the high school: routing, the water system, real time camera feed, and the facilities plan. Susan Olson, City of Frisco, information services and GIS manager, accepted the award.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Carlos Salman Gonzalez, the president and CEO of Sistemas de Informacion Geográfica S.A. (SIGSA). He brought modern mapping tools to Mexico. He also purchased a nursery and led a movement that has planted millions of trees in that country. After working for the Mexican government, Carlos opened his own mapping company, which today is the largest mapping company in South America.
National Geographic Society's board chairman Gil Grosvenor awarded the society's highest honor, the Alexander Graham Bell Medal to Roger Tomlinson, the father of GIS. "The award honors Tomlinson's qualities of great innovation," said Grosvenor. "His efforts have made geographers out of people who didn't even know they were geographers." He also awarded the Alexander Graham Bell Award to Dangermond for his innovations that are transforming the world of geography, bringing the use of geographic information to every part of the globe.
Big Fork High School students Tia Bakker and Ernie Cottle from Montana took the stage wearing caver helmets. They explained their GIS analysis of cave natural resources inside Glacier National Park. Their teacher and GIS mentor Hans Bodenhamer encouraged the many GIS professionals in the audience to volunteer as GIS mentors to the youth in their communities.
Richard Saul Wurman, author of 80+ books and founder of the renowned TED conferences gave the keynote presentation. Wurman discussed the project19.20.21 and how GIS is used to answer the questions--where is a city's center, where does it end, and how do we determine its edge? The way we ask the question is extremely important. He talked geospatially about five factors for analysis: concrete density, geopolitical area, transportation basin, metropolitan statistical area, and city lights. Wurman hopes to eventually develop a standard for measuring cities so that they can be analyzed and compared around the world.
There is beauty in the world.
Read more: http://blogs.esri.com/Info/blogs/ucinsider/archive/2010/07/12/ESRI-UC-Plenary-Overview.aspx