The 2010 Esri International User Conference began with the customary address by Jack Dangermond, president and founder. This year’s event is the largest ever, with more than 13,000 people in attendance.
The next element of the event was a slideshow of various applications of the technology including: environmental change monitoring; renewable energy mapping; managing land information; urban land planning and design; public safety, health, social issues; utilities, public infrastructure; transportation; business and economic development; defense and national security; planning for and responding to national disasters.
The Gulf oil spil was singled out for its cutting-edge use of GIS for impact assessment and monitoring. Dangermond also expressed great enthusiasm and hope for the trend of more open data. GIS is increasingly seen as a necessary national government infrastructure. It’s raising itself to a new level where regions and countries are beginning to work together, like in Europe with the INSPIRE initiative. In China many ministries are collaborating to not only do the work, but to manage the country with GIS.
Abu Dhabi won the “Making a Difference Award” for their Spatial Data Infrastructure. The SDI is focused on building a city of the future with sustainability as the central goal. This spatial data infrastructure is focused on collaboration, and all aspects of GIS sharing that include planning, emergency response, and biodiversity.
Dangermond asserted that GIS has advanced the science of geography, and is being applied to all new explorations of our planet. GIS is organizing our geographic information, and we clearly need to extend these systems to integrate geography into everything we do and know. Dangermond asked whether it’s possible to leverage our collective geographic investments and knowledge to a full global system.
Many forces are converging. The computing power, Internet connectivity and rich handheld devices are enhancing what software can do. Measurement is increasing with better measurement devices and increased data collection with crowd-sourcing capability. GIS is becoming more usable and adding full 3D and temporal capability. Our governments are opening up to share data and enable greater collaboration. GIS professionals are increasingly making geographic knowledge more accessible. The Internet as a platform is emerging, providing a platform for new applications to emerge.
Jack brought a new company called CitySourced onto the stage to demo their citizen reporting capability that provides governments the capability to enable their citizens to report issues via a smartphone application. It’s used to report such things as traffic issues, homeless issues, graffiti reports, etc. They also have a back-end system that includes sophisticated analysis capabilities.
Dangermond pulled all these converging trends together to suggest that we’ll reach a global geospatial consciousness so that our collective knowledge will open the world to everyone. This next phase will require that we work collectively. Technology and world perception are helping us to get to this vision that many have dreamed of for a long time.