Notes from the Conference – ESRI’s 21st Annual User Conference

Caitlin Dempsey


The 21st annual ESRI User Conference is being held this week in San Diego, California with over 11,000 GISers representing 110 countries in attendance.

Geography making communities – Plenary session

During Monday’s opening address, Jack Dangermond presented the conference theme of “Geography Making Communities.”

Dangermond views GIS as an essential tool to help communities manage their world and provide a “framework for our community consciousness.”

In following this theme, the keynote speaker was Dr. Michael Fay, who went on a fifteen-month trek through a remote section of central Africa to collect digital and quantitative information. By assembling information that was location based, Dr. Fay hoped to provide a resource by which to improve land management of the area.

ArcGIS platform

Last year’s ESRI conference was a banner year with the unveiling of the ArcGIS platform and its related technologies.

This year’s conference continued this thread with highlights of the new extensions for ArcGIS as well as user demonstrations of the various ArcGIS technologies.

Launched at last year’s conference, the Geography Network continues to be heavily promoted with Jack Dangermond himself providing a demonstration. Harking back to his ancestral roots, Dangermond used the service to look up data for Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Many technical and presentation workshops were available for users to learn more about the various components and applications of ArcGIS.

Less focus on ArcView 3.x

ArcView 3.x had a diminished presence at this year’s conference. In the vendor hall, few companies were demonstrating their products with ArcView 3.2; instead most had extensions built for ArcView 8.1.

One such offering was from Idelix, the makers of PliableGIS: a lens technology that allows users to amplify an area of interest in ArcMap without having to change scale. Any scale dependent layers set to display at a smaller scale area are also viewable through the virtual lens.

Geospatial vendors at the 2011 Esri UC

Companies with products covering all GIS technologies were present.

Many of the major satellite imagery vendors such as SPOT Image and Space Imaging were on hand. Kodak, long a provider of aerial film, entered the orthophotography business last year. They are currently in the process of flying over 7000 cities in North America, with regions around the world to follow. Aerial imagery will be available for purchase via their web site. For a map of what’s currently available, visit the site.

The proliferation of options, increased spatial resolution, and relatively affordable costs, make satellite imagery and its by-products essential for many GIS shops.

One such product on display at the conference was from Keyhole, which is striving to seam together available digital imagery from around the world.

This company is also in the process of developing a subscription-based service, complete with a software module called EarthViewer that will allow the user to take virtual flights around the world, geocode addresses and find select information in various cities.

Companies providing web GIS solutions were also at the conference, in particular services relating to local government.

Companies such as MapCiti offered quick and easy Internet mapping solutions. Many of the U.S. Government agencies present also had web-based GIS options.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has Earth Explorer, which provides access to USGS data such as Landsat imagery and digital cartographic data.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) uses a service called Land Manager to make finding information about United States land management.

The User Conference each year presents a plethora of information about GIS and applications of ESRI’s software. For more information about this conference, visit ESRI’s conference page.

More about Esri’s annual user conference


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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.

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