ESRI 2011 UC Live Blog

Esri UC 2011 Live Blog

We’re about to get underway at the 2011 ESRI UC.  We’re getting the opening Rocky-esque montage of GIS in action.  Jack takes the stage and here we go!

Jack starts with a big thank you and appreciation to us all and why we’re all here.  Jack’s a big fan of the f2f interaction, clearly.  He’s saying it’s the largest meeting they’ve ever had – around 15,000 people by the end of the week.  There’s around 14,000 in here right now.  Around 1/3 are here for the first time – great on them!  I’m a little surprised given governmental budgets that many people are here.  That’s a really good sign.  We’re now having our request meet and greet of the people around you.  Met a nice lady from ESRI just now.  Jack started a new process called the Deep Dive process.  Sounds like MBA speak, but I think he’s just saying he’s gone and fully explored a few select projects.  Hope it’s a representative sample :)  

Today’s sample – urban planning, well, really any planning; managing land (land information systems); environmental purposes; managing transportation; utilities and communications; building planning – basically he’s covering the normal big hits.  Oh, a mention of visualizations, which is cool.  Jack mentions geobusiness intelligence is an emerging field.  Not sure how that’s much different from geodemographics exactly, but I guess it adds more modeling and analysis.  Have to look into that later.  Given the unfortunate events in Japan in the spring, he’s naturally talking about emergency management and response.  I expect when they have people come up and talk about what they’ve done in the field, we’ll get at least one example from the Tsunami.  Crowd sourcing and engaging citizens (yay!) is getting bigger and bigger.  I still have issues with looking at this as primarily a top down endeavor, but I’m glad they’re talking about it more and more.  Regional and national GIS infrastructures.  Being in a state GIS data infrastructure, this area interests me, particularly the regional.  I wonder how they get around all the politics of interaction?

SAG award winners just stood up to big applause.  If you ever get to meet a SAG award winner, try to steal a few minutes of their time.  They usually have battle scars they’re willing to share.

Vincent Hoong from the Singapore Geospatial Collaborative Environment has just gotten a special award for their work.  Next is the President’s award.  Jack just told a joke nobody got… until he told us it was a joke, which got a laugh.  The award goes to the Russian Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre and Mapping  They basically build a national cadastral layer.  I have no idea how the heck they pulled that off.  I’m not sure we could get a fully functioning one in the US even with a degree from on high.  Sergei Sapelnikov accepted the award and is giving a speech.  I feel really bad because I really, really want to hear how they pulled it off, but my ear is just not tuned to the Russian accent.  Too bad Sue isn’t doing this portion of the live blog :) 

This year’s theme: GIS – Understanding Our World.  I like this theme better than past ones.  At least I understand what it means.  Jack is suggesting we need collective approaches to dealing with global issues.  I’m sure he’s alluding to the cloud at some level.  Now he’s deconstructing the theme.  What is understanding?  (gah!  philosophy 101 flashbacks!)  It’s about knowledge.  It’s about abstracting the world to extract and harness knowledge.  Each bit adds to a collective understanding of the world.  GIS is a practical system for understanding knowledge, and it provides a platform for collective understanding.  He’s talking about the basic technologies underpinning GIS.  Jack says it’s co-evolving with other technologies, such as crowd sourcing.  I’m not sure he could allude to the cloud any harder without saying the word cloud.  Wait, never mind, he just mentioned the cloud!  Wonder if ESRI will grapple with Google+ as a data source?  Random thought.  He’s mentioning the importance of usability, which is great since I wouldn’t normally rate ESRI high on the usability scale.  Jack says the goal is to make GIS available to anyone.  You have to attempt to blend authoritative data with social network data to get the best of all.  Will this pattern of melding be broadly adopted or just the providence of GIS professionals?  Jack seems to think so.  Seems to me it’s already happening some what even without GIS professionals being on board.

Jack is talking about ESRI’s work.  He says their work is focused upon ArcGIS.  They define it as a complete system for GIS information – from cloud to desktop.  ArcGIS supports multiple patterns for implementation.  He’s mentioning the server patter, which is my general area.  He’s talking about the cloud pattern, which is relatively new.  Obviously the desktop pattern is pretty well established.  

Jack is saying 10.1 is about advancing their basic capabilities.  Beta out in 2-3 weeks.  He says there’s a few game changing elements.  Also about making the product better (hopefully that’s a big bug fix effort).  Adding a BUNCH of base layers to ArcGIS online, which is awesome.  I really like the new Ocean base map.  Some new tools, like new statistically analysis.  Exploratory regression (my boss will be happy).  Areal interpolation.  New time analysis.  Space/Time clustering.  All of these sound cool, but as always, the proof is what it does when you’re back in the office wondering which thingy made Arc crash :)  Dynamic legends (woot!)  They’ve added feature edit tracking.  I imagine that will make a lot of people happy.  There are a bunch of new database management tools.  That’s wonderful – having to go through, say, Oracle to manage data sucks.  We can now do it through the Arc product to do SQL stuff.  That’s one of those features you either will love or won’t understand why it matters :)  Oh goody!  They’re adding fast dynamic mosaicking of images.  That got a small clap :)  They’re adding 3D measuring tools.  Greater support for LiDAR.  LiDAR has really exploded in WV at least. We get a TON of requests to get data all the time.  I’m glad it will be added to Arc directly because we get a lot of questions about, “how do I use it?  What do I use to open it?”  This will help a lot.  

They’re adding 3D modeling and analysis.  I hope they finally take advantage of the 3D graphics card.  They want to make visualization, particularly 3D, part of GIS.  Great!  That will help the CAVE environment so much!  They’re adding more support for mobile devices (yeah?  Where’s the dang Android app already??)  Mobile is an important trend and they really have to keep on top of it.  They’re introducing a lightweight runtime that can be deployed, say on a thumb drive.  Works in Windows and Linux.  Supports 32 and 64 bit.  You’ll be able to embed GIS into things using this runtime.  They’re enhancing server’s architecture.  It’s going to be faster (that goodness!)  It’s finally 64bit.  Made service creation easier, which will be super nice.  They’re making an OGC tile standard and a processing standard.  That’s wonderful.  They’re updating the APIs.  They’re still fully supporting Silverlight, Flex, and Javascript.  They’ve moving into share point, which I’ve never really messed around with, so I’m not sure how cool that will be.

ArcGIS for home program mentioned – got the biggest clap of the morning so far.  He’s now talking about ArcGIS online.  They’re shifting this into a full GIS cloud environment.  It’s a open platform for GIS and the cloud.  It allows others to use your assets.  It’s based upon something called intelligent web maps.  Jack says that’s a new medium that allows us to integrate multiple services together, whether they’re data or tools or whatever.  You can do editing, popups, visualizations, analysis, etc.  They use REST so anything can use it.  They can be consumed by browsers, mobile devices, or desktops.  Makes sense you can publish one map.  I’m wondering if you can secure it slightly so instead of ‘the world’ you can share with just a few people in your organization?  Interesting that people can share their ‘maps’ with other people which can be deconstructed by other people.  So I can share a bunch of data in a map, and someone else can pull out a layer or two to use in their own stuff.

To explain this better, Bernie is coming out to talky about it.  He’s going to make an intelligent map.  He’s gone to ArcGIS online (live?  Or just local?)  Ohhh!  You can drag and drop data on your local machine onto your map and it’ll be magically uploaded.  That’s WAY cool.  You can then change the symbology of the data once it’s uploaded.  Looks like he took data from a spreadsheet.  There’s lots of symbology you can choose to do this stuff, from just point symbols to graduated symbols.  He’s showing a map of crime points in the Washington, DC area.  He just added a bit of net income data and WHAMO! (my word, not his), Bernie has a mashup!  You can post it to Facebook or twitter (what, no Google+ love? 😉  You can share the url link and they can open it up in anything.  I wonder if you can set the size to have it be an inset into a webpage?  You can add tweets live (he added tweets about crime).  You can use pop-ups to show information, with complex information including charting abilities.  I’m now rethinking a few of our work apps :)  You can really see where this is where we’ll do a lot of our work in, say, the next few years.  If you have lightweight needs, this looks wonderful.  As is often with my interactions with Bernie, he answered a question before I asked it.  You can plop your maps into, say, a blog post and it fits into a defined space, yet it’s still fully interactive.  That’s awesome!  There’s a link to open your intelligent maps in ArcMap or Arc Explorer Online.  I wish they’d condense ArcGIS online and ArcExplorer Online – I think the two create confusion.  He’s making map notes in ArcExplore Online, which gets added to the intelligent map.  He’s now making a presentation using the map.  That’s a feature I dig in theory, but in practice I haven’t found a lot of need for it.  Then again, I don’t teach.  He’s got is iPad out to show it using the map he just edited.  But not his Android system (grrr).  He’s now adding KML files and WMS services to ArcGIS online  (Personal opinion alert!) I hope REST takes over WMS services soon.  They just better.  You can add shape files (the format that will never die) and mess around with the symbology somewhat.  Now he’s onto analysis, which is new for intelligent maps.  He’s using a dashboard to compare a selected feature and other features.  It’s pretty cool to compare something like, net income or population density.  Thanks Bernie!

Jack’s back in the saddle.  Jack is saying this fall they’re adding more to the ability add your own data to ArcGIS online.  Apparently you can make ArcGIS online for your organization, so you can have Chicago Online.  That’s pretty neat.  Jack says the theory of ArcGIS online is to bring together all those little pools of data together for an organization.  I’m not sure the resistance there is as much technical as it’s political/social.

Now we’re seeing the ArcGIS online for an organization.  It’s configurable and secure.  They’re demoing Louisville KY’s example (totally missed the name of the ESRI giving the demo.  Sorry man!  UPDATE: Jeremy!)  The ArcGIS online for Louisville shows their own logos, their own default maps, and their own base maps.  It can be public or private (I’m assuming on a map by map basis).  You can control user’s access, from read to created/delete. That’s going to be awesome for smaller shops with GIS but only one GIS person, like most of the county organizations in WV.  You can publish data and then make it a web enabled map for consumption, even if there are a lot of features.  He’s firing off a publishing process showing banks.  The map is zoomed into Louisville by default showing all the bank locations.

So how do you go from desktop to this online world?  Bernie is back showing us how to publish your ArcGIS Desktop to the ArcGIS online map.  You can do this already with ArcServer, but it was always kinda kludgy.  We usually just have one ArcServer guy publish data instead of allowing our GIS analysts to publish data.  Hopefully this will simplify this process, although I’m curious if there is anyway to get this back into our local ArcGIS server instance?  We’re on to Web Applications.  This ‘extends’ the map, so to speak.  Not sure what all that means.  Do we write applications using the API and add that data to our ArcGIS portal?  Still confused about that.

I wonder how much you can push this system.  Can it hold the spatial infrastructure of all of WV?  I fear the baseman imagery might crush it.

Jack is back talking about managed services in the cloud.  Apparently ESRI is using the cloud to provide ‘back end’ support for organizations.  It makes a lot of sense for smaller places that don’t have the resources to host/control their own.

Jack is talking about the Ideas portal introduced last year.  Apparently it had a huge impact on the development of the product.  That’s great – one of the things I’ve always admired about ESRI is their willingness to listen to their customers.  Mostly :)  Community Analysis is designed for those without GIS skills and resources.  It allows people to do limited GIS-ie things about their communities.  Technical support is being mentioned, as well as ESRI press (which have a lot of really cool titles).  Jack mentioned the Professional Services.  I wonder if the cloud stuff is eating into professional services work?  I have to imagine it is having an impact.  Jack mentioned the certification program.  I’m personally still on the fence about that.  Oh!  Wordle!  He’s talking about the partner program, with a big connection to Microsoft.  Jack’s now detailing a bunch of their programs, such as the NGO program, the education program, the customer support program, GIS in conservation, and GIS in education (become a Geo Mentor!)  Each of those got a quick mention.  I get there’s limited time, but it’s unfortunate they couldn’t get longer discussions.  If you get a chance, check out each of those programs in your own time.

Break time!  More Live blogging to come, so stay tuned!  

Side note: What do Comic-Con and the ESRI UC have in common?  Answer to come later!

And we’re back….. with WAY too much base on the intro music.  They’ve invited the City of Boston to present some of their work.  I always use Solar Boston as a great example for interactive maps.  Boston’s Chief Technology Officer is presenting Boston’s GIS work.  He also dropped a ‘Soxs bomb (I know, shocking someone from Boston didn’t lead with a mention about the Red Soxs).  They need a space to take some risks in technology, which is great.  It’s attached to the Mayor’s office.  They showing some new ways of dealing with local delivery issues and services.  First us is food trucks, which are just what they say – a truck that sells food out of it.  Boston focuses upon those places where the population wanted to have food trucks.  It’s crowd sourcing at it ‘s best – the population saying what it wants and private enterprise meeting that need, IMHO.  Citizens Connect allows citizens to report reports that other citizens can see.  It allows citizens to meet the needs of other citizens.  That’s pretty cool.  Wonder if it’s locally aware, meaning it tells you about reports in your immediate area?  It would make someone like Batman’s job much easier :)  They have a street bump app that measures the amount of bumpiness of the roads in an area.  The smart phone’s GPS and accelerometer are used to measure how bumpy a road might be, which is reported to the road works department.  That’s AMAZING!  Now we’re being told about their snow reporting map.  Lots of places do stuff like this – report where snow is a problem.  Of course, Boston might have a lot more of an issue with this than a lot of places. I really like their heat map display that shows the ‘problem areas’ where snow hasn’t been handled in awhile.  It’s pretty accessible to understand, I think.  They’re creating a Mayor’s Dashboard that reports information by issue, not department.  That’s a surprisingly novel way of looking at things, I think.  The Mayor can see what’s going on in, say, public safety and then get with the departments who influence that area.  Now they’re talking about their GIS strategy.  First is building a data model (huge undertaking right there).  Then they create connections between data holders.  Finally there’s building a community of people making applications built upon the data and the connections.  It’s unclear if that’s a community of governmental workers or if it includes the public.  Hopefully they publish the data and allow their citizens to make their own apps for reuse.  

Now we’re going to get 8 presentations (and a Top 10 List!)  We just saw a virtual fly through of a 3D view of Pasadena CA.  Why?  To quote the ESRI guy – because they could!  Obviously we’re big fans of the 3D model at VerySpatial, so the fly through was pretty cool.

First presentation – ArcGIS for local government.  Clint Brown is talking about this relatively new initiative.  It’s about working more efficiently and being more responsive to the public.  There’s a resource center for ArcGIS for local government.  There’s several example maps.  Naturally this is all built upon the arcGIS Online platform, so all the stuff that they talked about earlier is accessible here.  They’re showing a public information center that allows users to report problems using a mapping interface.  It’s kinda neat, but I think it’s has limited use in places like southern WV where connectivity and technological savvy is low.  I’m kinda curious how we effectively push all these gee-wiz cool things down to poor, rural areas.  Of course that’s a personal aside.  Now they’re showing this stuff working with mobile platforms (which means iOS and Windows 7 Mobile).  Clint is pointing out that all of this is cool and all, but it isn’t possible without the information collected.  Data is king.

In between the presentations, they’re going to talk a little about base maps.  First up, the World Topographic map.  We use that all the time in our work at the WV GIS Technical Center.  It’s compiled by lots of ‘authoritative’ sources, from Federal sources down to local campus maps.  It’s like an authoritative crowd source.

Second we have a presentation using Enterprise Web Apps, starting with sharepoint.  It allows end users to create maps using data in sharepoint.  You can edit the control ribbon on sharepoint to control the range of base maps or the tools available to end users.

World Street Map – another great basemap!  They’ve added a lot more detailed data, particularly in urban areas.  It includes Geocoding services and a global gazetteer, which is incredibly useful.  They’re adding more countries to the geocoding services.  That’s great for international users, but I hope they work on making US geocoding better.  It’s great if you live in an urban area, not so much in really rural areas.  

Next up, Community Analyst.  I’m loving these talks because they’re stuff I don’t know much about.  It’s an easy app to allow people to explore their community.  It has Census 2010 information included as well as other federal data.  You can filter and query the map, such as asking what places have the highest rate of diabetes, for instance.  You can turn on other layers to do more advanced analysis, like what’s the relationship between income and diabetes, for instance.  You can drill down by scale so the data is added to match your chosen scale.  I’m curious if they pull in different data sources – how can you do ‘local’ scale if the data source only supports county level?  You can make maps doing some basic analysis and share the map out to pdf.

Next up is spatial analytics that are coming in 10.1.  We’re looking at a map of gas prices in southern CA.  She’s pointing out it’s hard to find the patterns.  She’s using a grouping analysis tool that can up us understand what’s going on.  It makes a distinct group based upon your interested variable.  There’s a clear spatial pattern to the gas situation – the coast is more expensive than the interior.  It also produces a PDF output with some things like box and whisker plots and some analysis.  Now she’s adding in some additional explanatory variables, such as distance from highways.  They’ve added a tool called aerial interpolation that allows you to convert, say, census tracts into a surface.  Funny, someone asked us to do that recently on a project.  Can’t wait for 10.1.  Next up, exploratory regression IESDA?)  It’s a model in model builder.  You pick all the variables you think might be related.  It tests all the combinations of those variables and creates a report showing the analysis.  Still it’s regression – not ESDA.  I wish they’d add more true ESDA tools.  You can share your analysis by sharing it as a geoprocessing package, which might include reports, tools, data, or whatever is necessary to basically re-create this analysis.  This gets sent up to ArcGIS online and then they can be discovered and used by other people.  Others can download and edit that data.  Now we’re seeing a Skype-esque connection to someone in Denver using the package to do their own analysis.  He’s looking at the package and looking at how to use that package in his own data.  That way the analysis uses the same methodology.  As a side note, I think their group symbology is confusing – blue for bad but red for not so bad?  I hope you can change that as you wish in the package.

Next baseman – World Ocean Map.  I do next to zero work around the Ocean, but I think this is super cool.  Hopefully it will allow me to learn more.  They’re also pushing out an official National Geographic map.  National Geographic always have some of the most beautiful maps around, so having a basemap like that you can tap into should produce some gorgeous maps.

Next up, imagery processing.  This is always tricky and has never been ESRI forte.  He’s showing imagery moving around super fast.  It’s pretty impressive how quickly it’s drawing.  He’s then zoomed into a fuzzy image and ortho rectified and pan sharped it on the fly with a simple drag/drop action.  That’s impressive.  You can now create mosaic image by pointing the folder containing the images.  It then treats these images as one big image.  If you have color balance issues, you can use a new 10.1 tool to help correct the color quickly.  He’s quickly sharing out his new mosaic out to the community by publishing it to ArcGIS Online.  He puts in a few search tags and some description and hits publish.  It published the data pretty quickly, but he only had a 50 image mosaic.  We often have hundreds (or thousands) of images – wonder how well that will work?  

Imagery basemap – They’re adding 50million square K of imagery to their world imagery service between now and December.  They also have a global Landsat imagery with all the bands and pixel values.  That’s pretty useful.  They also publish historical data back to 35 years (basically the Landsat history).  This should be easier to use than some of the USGS tools.

On to LiDAR.  Confession – I’ve never used LiDAR in my work, so most of this will be lost on me.  10.1 will have native support for LiDAR.  He’s showing native LiDAR data for the San Diego Gaslamp area.  He’s reclassified the points to make the ocean blue, ground brown, and buildings yellow.  Now he’s showing a 3D model based upon the LiDAR (pretty cool!)  Now we’re looking at the LiDAR as a surface and he’s creating contours based upon the LiDAr.  Neat, but San Diego probably isn’t the best contour surface.  He’s measuring the point cloud for things like building heights.  Now he’s on to managing and sharing this LiDAR data.  Clearly the most important bit of 10.1 is this whole sharing stuff.

Up coming basemap – global elevation model.  Hope that launches soon!

Now up to bat, 3D modeling and design.  How can you go from 2D data to 3D models?  Apparently lots of people had that question.  You can extrude footprints and heights to make models, but you can also add in extra information to make more complex buildings.  So if you know your building has a specific roof type, you can edit the model quickly to reflect that.  It can even generate that based upon an attribute.  She’re showing a fairly complex building rooftop that can be created.  It’s a like a GIS enabled Sketchup.  There are a bunch of rules you can mess with to constrain or edit your models.  For instance, you can make them constrained to, say, a parcel.  You can add things like street textures fairly easily by basically chaining the rule of street lines (kinda like changing the symbology) to put in streets into your model.  Ok, I want to play with this.  Now.  He just drew a line and then made it bend off the surface by X number of feet.  He was able to quickly generate a pedestrian walkway by simply applying a rule.  It was WAY cool.

Top 10 countdown time!  They’re actually have 3 Top 10 Countdowns

Top 10 for Desktop 10.1: 10) Search.  Can search through your thousands of projections to find the one you want.  You can add a spatial filter to get your search constrained.  Searching now has ‘near’ ability.  9) editors information is automatically tagged on edits.  Now you know who edited what when.  That’s automatically to the geodatabase.  8) Geotag photos to points tool.  You can create points from geotagged photos.  That’s neat.  7) GPX to features tool.  It will be a lot easier to take GPS points into Arc.  6) Improved KML support.  5) New generalization tools.  You can use a simple tool that removes complexity and coarser scales and maintain connectivity.  4) New interface for administering enterprise geodatabases.  About time!  You can do a lot of administration straight from ArcGIS.  3) Key numbering.  Makes labeling easier because a number is tied to a label in your legend.  2) Dynamic legends.  Great for map books.  1) Share As… you can share stuff easily.  That’s pretty much been the major theme of the morning, so no big shock here.

Top 10 for Server 10.1: 10) Global data – continuous panning around the globe.  Again, about dang time!  That’s always been my biggest pet peeve.  9) Silverlight viewer.  It allows you to build applications from scratch with no programming expertise.  Color me skeptical on this one.  I think you’ll hit the limit of what you can do pretty quickly.  However, it appears to be tied strongly to geoprocessing ability, so that will greatly expand what you can do.  Obviously with this mornings theme, you can publish this quickly for public consumption.  The beta is available right now.  8)  64 Bit support for server (yes!) 7) New architecture.  6) easier to install and configure.  It wasn’t that hard before, I didn’t think.  5) IT friendly.  Should make your IT folks swear less.  Good feature, but kinda weird to bring out on your top 10 list. 4) Live & Historic traffic data for Network Analysis.  3) Dynamic Layers.  You (the programmer) can now dictate what layers get drawn in what order and what symbology is used.  YES!  Dynamic layers also allows for hundreds or thousands of layers to be effectively used. 2) Easier to make high quality printing out of the box.  Nice paper maps added and it will make adding additional information easier.  1) Performance.  Performance.  Performance.  Dynamic layers fast.  Super fast. Actually usable by normal human beings fast.  I’d buy 10.1 for that alone.

Top 10 Mobile and some Desktop for 10.1: 10) ArcGIS iOS (Android!!!! )  9) ArcGIS on Windows phone.  8) ArcGIS on Windows Mobile.  Sorry I don’t have much to add to these three because they’ve kinda been around a lot.  7) ArcGIS Android (FINALLY!!!!!)  Not out until September.  Wonder what took so long?  They’ll support both phone and tablet devices.  All of these devices were accessing the same intelligent map, which is really neat.  6) Productivity tools – legend updates itself as you zoom in on your mobile device.  Data collection is easy to do on the mobile device.  You can access the popups on your map through your mobile device.  5) Social media.  You can publish your maps out to twitter and Facebook, but also SMS and texting.  I bet we’ll hear about Google+ next year.  They just released this update last night, so go download your update ASAP!  4) Offline capabilities.  This is fabulous for field work, especially in really remote areas.  Download the data locally.  Hopefully it’ll clean itself up from time to time.  You can enter data into the mobile device as needed and it will be stored locally.  When you get connectivity, it gets uploaded to the server.  That’s wonderful.  It’s his favorite new feature and my second favorite (guess my first).  3) Runtime has fast application startup.  That’s something none of us are used to with Arc products.  2) Fast application performance.  Similar to the fast image display mentioned above.  Labels and annotation goes really fast.  1)  Easy deployment.  Moving a developed app out can be a pain.  He dumped the app to a thumb drive and is taking it to another machine.  App starts on the new machine super fast.  All you had to do was double click on the app and you’re done.  No install needed!  

That’s the end of the morning session! (Answer to the what’s comic-con and the UC have in common?  Longer lines to the men’s room than the ladies room!)

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