ESRI UC 2011 – Jeff’s First Exposition Hall Tour

On Tuesday at the ESRI UC I spent the majority of my day wandering through the many tables and displays set up in the exposition hall.   At first I was overwhelmed by the size of the exhibition hall and the number of exhibitors but as I walked through the displays I became impressed with the number of ingenious ways that society makes use of GIS.

ESRI had a fantastic set up this year with their showcase featuring workstations set up to help with specific skill sets or applications regarding ArcGIS.  Each station was staffed with knowledgeable assistants to help with your questions or comments.  I stopped by the Training and Certification to inquire about ESRI’s new technical certification program.  If you haven’t checked it out lately you should as large changes from their past instructor certification program have taken place.

Finally, I got the urge to enter drawings that many of the vendors were offering.  One such company was offering a large remote controlled helicopter and I couldn’t resist.  That entry led to a conversation with Bill Emison of Merrick & Company.  Bill informed me that Merrick & Company were demonstrating Lidar processing software and gave me the tour of their product Merrick Advanced Remote Sensing Software (MARS).

All I can say is wow! The software processes millions of points super fast!  After my whiplash settled down, Bill showed me some of the software’s capabilities in generating different GIS friendly formats, generating TIN surfaces, classification tools, and filtering abilities.  Merrick & Company provides a free viewer and a 30 day evaluation of the full viewer.  Definitely worth checking out if you make heavy use of Lidar data especially since it exports to so many usable formats.

ESRI EDuc Plenary Session – ArcGIS Online Improvements

At the ESRI Education User Conference Plenary this morning a few things struck me as significant for GIS use in the classroom.  Bern Szukalski reviewed some of the ArcGIS.com revisions that occurred last Wednesday and these are what I thought could enhance the use of GIS in the classroom:

Intelligent Mapping – Essentially pop ups that display data in graphical formats about the feature selected ( fun stuff like pie, bar and line charts).

Time enabled mapping – The ability to connect to time aware services and bring them into the ArcGIS.com mapping environment and have a time slider available.

And what I feel is the most significant advance, “Drag & Drop Mapping” where a text or Excel file can be dragged directly into the mapping environment to add features and their associated data.  Remember creating an Excel sheet with Latitude and Longitude fields, displaying events, and then exporting that event as a layer?  Not anymore, just drag that excel file over the map and drop it!

While the emphasis of the plenary was to enable GIS education, the undertone was that of increasing the capabilities of web mapping and the continued integration of cloud services.  The Pennsylvania State University also announced today for the first time publicly that it will be offering an open course tentatively titled “GEOG 8xx – Cloud/Server GIS“.  Enrollment for this course will be open on November 7th 2011.

Must – Have – Coffee!

Where you live might decide where you get your AM cup of joe (unless you get your fix from a local favorite).  Numbers Run has a neat series of maps that shows the number of store locations (Starbucks Vs. Dunkin Donuts) by zip code.  Living in New England I can already tell you that I don’t need a map to find a Dunkin Donuts.  They’re in every gas station, grocery store, shopping plaza… I think one is going in at the end of the hallway in my department!  To be honest, I’m looking forward to visiting the zip code with the largest number of Starbucks next month for the 2011 ESRI UC in San Diego, CA.

From: Numbers Run.com