ESRI User’s Conference Plenary: Live Blog!

We’re about to start the 2013 Live Blog for this year’s ESRI User’s Conference. ¬†Keep posted as I’ll make updates as long as the WiFi stays clean ūüôā ¬†This year I’m trying something new. ¬†I’m up in the Geolounge relaxing with a nice cup of coffee and my very own power outlet ūüôā ¬†T-33 minutes until start and counting until kickoff!


Going to be light on pictures this year because I’m up in the GeoLounge. ¬†Pictures of a screen just aren’t as interesting. ¬†We’re minutes from starting. ¬†The beginning video is playing showing lots of interesting places from around the world. ¬†GIS Transforming Our World.

Jack takes the stage. ¬†I’ll say this, the sound is louder in the plenary itself. ¬†But the seats are better here ūüôā ¬†We have about 12,000 people here at the conference from 130 different countries. ¬†Time to meet someone new. ¬†Wonder if I should walk across the isles and bother someone? ūüôā ¬†A guy across the way waved at me and I waved back. ¬†Hope that counts. ¬†Apparently the people in the hall won’t stop being friendly to one another. ¬†Four minutes in and he’s lost control. ¬†Uh-oh ūüôā ¬†We’re supposed to meet people new the whole conference. ¬†Jack is talking about some of the fields we work in: climate change, permafrost reduction, sea level rise, species change, management of natural resources, environmental remediation, developing energy resources, managing land records, transportation modeling, utilities, public works, transportation (Barb can tell Jack what you’re supposed to call the people who pickup trash :)), building and facilities management, retail, medical, law enforcement and safety, and a whole lot more. ¬†He’s showing us through a series of maps he has chosen, from showing postal routes to medicare maps. ¬†They’re pretty impressive maps. ¬†Jack is talking about “Story Maps”, which he calls a new type of medium. ¬†(Jack can’t find his phone. ¬†Ha! ¬†It’s not just me!) ¬†He’s talking about using mobile devices for mapping. ¬†Jack is thanking everyone for sending him our maps.

Next up is the awards, like the Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) awards. ¬†Everyone who received on is standing and getting an ovation. ¬†Good job everyone! ¬†These are great awards and if you’re here, you should try to ask these people what they’ve done because their practices are the best of the best. ¬†Other awards this year – Making a Difference Award. ¬†This award goes to a Jack Wenneberg who has been looking at medical outcomes and showing they’re large location dependent. ¬†The Enterprise GIS Award is going to the Hong Kong Lands Department, received by Dominic Wui. ¬†Finally, we have the President’s Award which is being given to Direct Relief. ¬†This organization¬†redistributes¬†medicines and medical equipment to places in need. ¬†They get their products from companies to donate. ¬†According to Forbes, this is the most¬†efficient¬†NGO at 99%¬†efficiency.

The theme of this year’s conference – GIS Transforms Our World. ¬†I like this one better than ones in the past. ¬†GIS changes the world around us, but it also changes how we see things. ¬†It’s a communication medium or language. ¬†We need to make a better future and GIS can help. ¬†We need to leverage our best brains, creativity, and talents to make a better world. ¬†GIS provides a framework for transforming the world. ¬†GIS is integrative. ¬†It’s visual. ¬†It’s quantitative and analytic. ¬†It’s built upon the comprehensive science of Geography and therefore can scale up (and down too, for that matter). ¬†It integrates science into everything we do. ¬†GIS needs to be scaled up beyond single system and projects. ¬†We need to make it pervasive. ¬†What GPS did as a technology is make it so we were never lost (our road trip experience of last week may counter Jack’s statement ūüėČ ). ¬†GIS is transforming int the web. ¬†It’s leveraging faster machines, the web, the cloud, big data, and all those trends happening. ¬†A new pattern is emerging, the pattern of apps. ¬†The apps make the map more dynamic, interactive, and collaborative. ¬†GIS is getting easier and more accessible. ¬†It’s becoming social.

WebGIS can integrate lots of different information. ¬†It can integrate Big Data, social media, traditional GIS data, and others. ¬†It can provide an integration method. ¬†We can integrate things dynamically. ¬†It can integrate everything from dynamic content, remote sensing information, visual overlays, and use that to understand processes. ¬†We can use it to integrate organizations and span organizational boundaries. ¬†Jack is talking about NISC, which is a federal system designed to integrate GIS information across federal agencies and local information. ¬†It provides the ability to organize our work. ¬†Jack likes this pattern and framework for GIS. ¬†He thinks WebGIS transforms everything we do. ¬†Haven’t we been talking about WebGIS for a few years now though? ¬†Surprised it’s the focal point for this speech.

Jack is shifting gears to what ESRI is doing, especially under WebGIS. ¬†ArcGIS is going to support multiple implementation patterns, from database centric to workstation¬†stove-piping¬†to WebGIS. ¬†ArcGIS is now a WebGIS. ¬†It makes maps, analyses data, makes information, but in a simpler form. ¬†Like last year, Jack is talking about the system being cross platform and capable on any device we chose, from mobile to tablet to desktop. ¬†A lot of the neat stuff for ArcGIS Online will be useable on site through Portal, which is awesome for those of us who can’t afford ArcGIS Online. ¬†They’re publishing new and interesting basemaps. ¬†More basemaps is more better in my book. ¬†There are new Landscape data releases and new elevation data worldwide. ¬†Suzanne Foss is talking about the new data. ¬†She is showing a lot of the basemaps we’ve seen before. ¬†However, they’ve integrated a lot more community content for much of the world into their basemaps. ¬†They’ve updated their imagery worldwide. ¬†There are 60cm images for much of Western Europe. ¬†There is 1m imagery for other places around the world. ¬†In the last year, they’ve put in over 100 million square kilos of coverage. ¬†There’s a bunch of new map data concerning demographics,¬†economics, education, and a host of other themes. ¬†You can use that for both visual and analysis. ¬†The maps are all dynamic so you can change it on the fly. ¬†Finally, we have scientific maps about land use, soils, geology, ecosystems and a bunch of others. ¬†All of this is available via ArcGIS Online and can be used in desktop, web applications, or mobile. ¬†I wonder if it takes any credits to do that sort of thing?

Jack is back on the stage to talk about Desktop 10.2. ¬†They’ve put a lot of emphasis on quality (thank god) and a bunch of new analytic tools as well as some Big Data integration. ¬†There’s the ability to do some image caching on the desktop. ¬†All ArcGIS users will get a free subscription to ArcGIS Online (woot!) as part of their subscription. ¬†(we’re getting some scratchy fuzzy stuff going on the audio) ¬†Desktop users can publish in the cloud. ¬†Again, I wonder how this integrates and interacts with the credit system? ¬†This will allow users to move seemlessly through devices. ¬†Dramatic improvement in 3D visualization. ¬†CityEngine integrated into Desktop. ¬†You can make city scenes to publish 3D views to the web. ¬†Craig is going to show us how that works. ¬†There is more demand for 3D every year. ¬†They want a 3D view of their city in a web browser. ¬†ArcGIS for 3D Cities can go from ‘flat’ data in Desktop, create some rules, and you can publish to the web lickity splickity. ¬†You can publish the thing in any old browser. ¬†People can make comments. ¬†Uhhmm…. FREAKIN’ AWESOME! ¬†There’s even shadows based upon light sources. ¬†Nathan Shepard is going to show the 3D on the Web. ¬†In the future, the web scenes will be services you can just view and show in any browser without any downloads or plugins (ANY browser!!!) ¬†You can use it for analytic purposes too, not just visualization. ¬†This works on mobile devices too, like iPads. ¬†Wonder when it’s coming? ¬†Jack is back saying 3D is a major footprint for ESRI. ¬†He’s saying 3D is going to be the new standard just like color overtook black and white.

Jack is now talking about Arc as an Image platform. ¬†They’re going to integrate intelligent imagery processing via the web. ¬†There will be new tools for the desktop for image discovery. ¬†Jack is now talking about something called Premium Services. ¬†They’re working with partners to deliver as close to real time imagery as one could hope without a larger defense budget ūüôā ¬†Several partners, such as Digital Globe and the Weather Service, are delivering the data. ¬†These services are coming out later this summer. ¬†Tony is demonstrating the new imagery stuff. ¬†They are going to support LandSat 8 and new advanced sensors. ¬†There is lots of imagery out there with lots of interesting spectrums you can tap into for analysis and use. ¬†It works online, the desktop, and the mobile platforms.

They keep talking about 10.2 – wonder if it’s available for download yet? ¬†Going to check my customer care portal account. ¬†Shoot. ¬†Not yet ūüôĀ ¬†I was hoping they’d pull an Apple. ¬†I guess there’s still time left today, so here’s hoping!

Jack is moving onto 10.2 Server. ¬†They’re going to make it so that ArcGIS Online is available on premise. ¬†There are better tools for security and¬†administrative¬†tasks. ¬†New databases are being supported. ¬†The real interesting stuff is Portal. ¬†You can make your own server like ArcGIS Online. ¬†All Advanced users will get Portal as part of the implementation. ¬†There is a new extension called GeoEvent Processor. ¬†It exploits real time data. ¬†It allows for continuous processing and¬†analysis. ¬†It will integrate with Premium Services. ¬†ArcGIS Online is the parallel to Server. ¬†They just released a major update a day or two ago. ¬†In a couple of months, they’re going to make a marketplace that’s like Apple’s App Store. ¬†ArcGIS Online is a SAS solution, but its also a complement to existing systems. ¬†Lauren Benette is going to show us what ArcGIS Online is. ¬†She says ArcGIS Online a year ago could pretty much only make a map. ¬†Now its a full Web GIS (I wouldn’t know since we can’t use it due to limited credits. ¬†Grrr). ¬†You can now perform analysis in ArcGIS Online. ¬†Lauren is running some interesting analysis using just the Online tools. ¬†It is a lot more feature rich than a year ago. ¬†For the first time I can see using it as a GIS. ¬†Doh! ¬†She crashed the browser! ¬†Ok, maybe not a full GIS ūüôā ¬†Then again, I can crash Arc pretty reliably too, so maybe that makes it a true GIS. ¬†Jack is back saying this is a new workflow. ¬†Like he told us last year at the press event, it looks like this is the focal point for the future for ESRI.

Jack is now talking about location analytics. ¬†This started with Maps for Office. ¬†But¬†they’re¬†moving to include sharepoint. ¬†They call it Esri Maps For, as in Esri Maps For Office. ¬†They’ve created solution templates that are focused upon certain areas for use. ¬†They’re github and open sourced. ¬†They’re very popular.

Looking ahead. ¬†ArcGIS is going to improve via software releases but also through continuous online improvements. ¬†Apparently 10.2 is coming out in a couple of weeks. ¬†So much for the Apple ‘available now’ dream ūüôĀ ¬†Jack is talking about the other areas of Esri that’s not just software. ¬†They have a large Tech Support staff. ¬†The ESRI Press are¬†releasing¬†a digital app for ArcNews and ArcUser. ¬†Their books are going to eBooks.

As we head into the break, I realize exactly how much Esri needs the live streaming of this keynote. ¬†My words are simply inadequate to communicate how cool some of this stuff has become. ¬†The demos are awesome. ¬†It’s too bad you can’t be here to see.

We’re back from the break. ¬†Lauren is back on the stage with John talking about Esri and what they do. ¬†Obviously a big focus is upon WebGIS as we’ve heard all morning. ¬†We’re going to learn more about the ArcGIS Platform. ¬†First presentation is from Jim McKinny working on 10.2. ¬†They’ve worked hard on quality and performance. ¬†About time. ¬†“Simple fixed”. ¬†We’ll see about that in a couple weeks ūüôā ¬†New analytical tools. ¬†Improvements in mapping and editing. ¬†A lot of this is pretty vague, so I presume we’ll get details in a couple of weeks.

James Tedrick is doing the Top 10 list. ¬†10: Improved Excel tools. ¬†There is now a tool to automatic the import of a spreadsheet. ¬†Instead of a csv file, we get a native xls file. ¬†9: We’ll also be able to export a JSON format version, which is awesome for the programming nerds like me. ¬†8: Hotspot tool to do hotspot analysis. ¬†7: ArcDesktop now has access to ArcGIS Online. ¬†Sadly, I thought it already did ūüôĀ ¬†6: PKI Security integrated into ArcGIS Desktop (if ever an applause communicated the phrase ‘uhmm… what?’, that¬†applause¬†just did). ¬†5: You can share your maps for your organization just like sharing ArcGIS Online, but it’s only for your organization. ¬†It’s all based upon Portal. ¬†4: A bunch of planning solutions and templates in ArcGIS. 3: Developer¬†solutions¬†through github. ¬†You can view and download their code and then alter it. ¬†That’s pretty cool. ¬†2: Performance, which isn’t a surprise given what they said it was a focal point. 1: Performance. Because it’s that important. ¬†They’ve added parallel processing in 10.2 ¬†Surprised bug fixes wasn’t mentioned into the list. ¬†I’m sorry to say that was the saddest applause for a top 10 list in the last 5 years. ¬†Sorry James ūüôĀ

ArcGIS and Esri Maps for Office is our next topic and it’s being present by Lauren’s husband Nate Bennett. ¬†He’s showing how to use Esri Maps for Office to¬†answer¬†questions, such as a complex question of where to live. ¬†He’s generated a pretty impressive map just by highlighting a column of data. ¬†You can use a new tool called Enrich Layer to get statistical and demographic information. ¬†That gets added as new columns to your spreadsheet. ¬†The information comes from ArcGIS Online. ¬†The tools also access the landscape data on ArcGIS Online. ¬†You can add layers of information and use that to do buffer analysis. ¬†Nate created a fairly complex map full of analysis all in Excel. ¬†It’s pretty awesome.

Grant Ervin from the City of¬†Philadelphia¬†is talking about their use of GIS in city management. ¬†He’s showing the crime mapping application. ¬†He’s showing an app based upon the Flex Viewer, their Public¬†Safety¬†GIS app. ¬†It took them over 3 years to move their officers to this application and tools. ¬†A detective Justin is showing how they used GIS to look at¬†burglary¬†patterns to arrest a¬†gentleman¬†who stole Christmas money from kids. ¬†Before GIS, the best they could hope for is stumbling upon someone suspected. ¬†With GIS, they could focus their efforts to targeted areas. ¬†He said the busted a guy in under an hour and he¬†ultimately¬†confessed to 16 burglaries because of the patterns of the map. ¬†He also uses it to understand gang territory changes, which is apparently incredibly fluid.

Adam from the Dev team for ArcGIS Server is talking about real time GIS with GeoEvent processor. ¬†GeoEvent Processor has connectors that allow you to ingest data from a lot of sources, including social media. ¬†It can process as the data is received. ¬†He’s showing an example with planes and vehicles. ¬†We’re seeing plane travel in ‘real’ time and we’re watching the planes move on the screen. ¬†He’s comparing planes to sound¬†ordinances¬†in San Diego. ¬†He’s got a device that measures sound on his iPhone and showing that point show up on the map in real time.

Now onto Portal for ArcGIS with Cindy Salas and Rob Robertson from CenterPoint Energy. ¬†They’re HQd in Houston TX. ¬†They’re showing all the miles and miles of energy resources they need to manage. ¬†They’ve been using GIS since the 70’s. ¬†They rejected ArcGIS Online simply because it went against their corporate standards to use a hosted solution. ¬†They became an early¬†adopter¬†of Portal. ¬†Portal is hosted on their servers on their systems. ¬†As one would expect, it looks just like ArcGIS Online.

Next up is the¬†Bavarian¬†Forest Administration represented by Christian Semback. ¬†He’s showing an interesting mobile map they have. ¬†It’s made to look friendly and not at all scary to a forester or farmer in the area. ¬†The have a bunch of wizards that allows the user to add information to the forest area, such as buildings or area changes. ¬†Users can use the tool to see the BFA’s information for¬†controlled¬†or protected areas, but also so the BFA can get information and updates from the people who live in the area. ¬†They also have a wildlife survey tool. ¬†This is done with handheld computers and not with desktop GIS. ¬†They get almost 2x more¬†efficiency¬†using the mobile approach instead of the desktop. ¬†He’s telling us to always remember our audience and where they have to work.

The world of Apps is explodeing. ¬†Jeff Jackson from the Apps group is telling us about the Apps they have in the works. ¬†They are moving away from a single app that does everything and instead focusing upon individual apps that do one or two things well. ¬†For instance, Explorer for ArcGIS. ¬†It’s a native app for iOS, Windows Mobile, Android, and the Mac. ¬†There’s a home screen that has your personal map gallery. ¬†You click on a map and it opens into something with which we’re all¬†familiar, a big map. ¬†There are tools at the top like layers and search. ¬†You can search for places, addresses, and now for features on your map. ¬†The slide show view they’ve had for awhile in several products are included in the app. ¬†A really cool new ability is to even author and publish maps through the tool. ¬†You have access to all the basemaps from ArcGIS Online. ¬†You can change¬†transparencies¬†or add/remove layers. ¬†You can configure tools¬†available¬†for the map. ¬†Basically you can make a fully feature rich mobile map in the mobile product directly. ¬†The maps are cached locally as well, so if you lose network access, you can still work with the map. ¬†That’s pretty awesome.

Tim Oliver from Horry County South Carolina is here to show us how all this stuff looks integrated into an enterprise GIS. ¬†He has a staff of seven (must be nice! ūüôā ) ¬†They have to maintain foundation datasets. ¬†They have to be prepared to respond to emergency events like hurricanes. ¬†He can check current status and services via his iPad to see what he’s going to be faced with before his day again. ¬†He can see E911 calls or traffic cameras via his mobile phone. ¬†His staff has a 24 hour turn around time for parcel information. ¬†He’s checking in with a couple of guys back in the office in Horry CO. ¬†Thank goodness for Skype, huh? ¬†He’s talking about their aerial imagery acquisition program and how to plan what to take. ¬†To be honest, while I’m enjoying what he’s saying, I’m honestly green with envy. ¬†It sounds like that one county has a much better GIS than my entire home state. ¬†Score one for resources. ¬†Tim is now talking about their public facing applications like their Parks and Recs app. ¬†It’s used to promote economic development in the county. ¬†Turns out each of the¬†fire stations¬†in the county have their own iPad and were directed to download ArcMobile so they can tap into the enterprise GIS. ¬†They are moving into new directions based upon three things – mobility, big data, and the needs of the county. ¬†They’ve created an HTML 5 application to show real time data for traffic accidents and 911 calls for first responders. ¬†And that’s a day in the life of Horry County South Carolina’s work with Enterprise GIS.

It’s off to lunch and out of the plenary for me. ¬†I have to go back to my room and work on my presentation! ¬†Thanks for reading!

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