I was glad to join Christopher at the Esri Mid-Atlantic User Group Conference outside of Baltimore recently. It’s very exciting to step outside of the daily routine once in a while to learn about the future and direction of the GIS industry, be inspired by work that our colleagues are doing, and to talk about some of the work GISi has been engaged in.
Like Christopher mentioned, integration was certainly a buzz word tossed around a fair amount. Demos given during the main session talks showed how a user could fairly easily push maps and data from ArcGIS Desktop to ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS online. As Clint Brown, Director of Software Products at Esri, was casting vision for the future of ArcGIS, he liked to refer to ArcGIS as a system. To paraphrase, “What is ArcGIS? It is a system that enables people to work with your online maps and associated geographic info.” It would seem that Esri’s heavy investment in cloud technology (in the form of ArcGIS Online) is the key to the advancement of this vision.
In line with this vision is the idea that maps are windows into our data. Maps are way more than a way to find directions from A to B. Thanks to Google, the general public is familiar with the idea of using a map to explore data from the world around them. Esri wants to harness this general population spatial awareness. Again, Clint Brown: “Everyone knows how to use a map. The map is the window into everything else GIS related. It is one of the most universally recognized ways to present information.” He encouraged us to think of new ways to use the map as a window into our respective organization’s business data.
Like Christopher mentioned in his previous post, the Esri MUG was a very inspirational event. In addition to the array of fine user presentations, I was particularly inspired by the recipient of the First MUG Community Service Award, Dr. Jay Morgan of Towson University. This man has used his career to increase the public’s awareness of GIS and how it can be used to create a better world. He inspired us to find ways to volunteer in the community and transfer our passion for GIS to the next generation.