Author Archives: Jack Dangermond

Jack Dangermond
Jack Dangermond founded Esri with a vision that computer-based mapping and analysis could make significant contributions in the areas of geographic planning and environmental science. The recipient of 10 honorary doctorate degrees, he has served on advisory committees for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Science Foundation.

Recent Posts

Supporting the White House Climate Data Initiative

Yesterday the White House announced a Climate Data Initiative that encourages innovation from the private sector and the general public. It’s a call to use open government data on climate change risks and impacts in compelling and useful ways that help citizens, businesses, and communities make smart choices in the face of climate change.

At Esri, we agree that America stands at a critical juncture. We must tap into our innovation to cut the carbon pollution that causes climate change and affects public health. This includes efforts big and small. We need to increase clean, alternative fuels in our energy portfolio; develop more efficient vehicles; and design smarter cities that foster informed citizens willing to do their part. We need to encourage walkable communities with smart transit and easy recycling programs. Cities must look at all options available to them: updating building codes, adjusting the way they manage natural resources, investing in more resilient infrastructure, and planning for rapid recovery from damages when severe weather events occur. We must increase climate resilience to strengthen roads, bridges, and shorelines to better protect people’s homes, businesses, and way of life. Continue reading

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Roger Tomlinson, Geographer

It is with great sadness that I relay the sudden passing of our dear friend and colleague, Dr. Roger Tomlinson, on February 9, 2014, at the age of 80.

Roger was above all else a geographer and was always proud to say that. He loved GIS, the field that he invented, and was so pleased to come to Esri and help us in thinking through difficult problems. He had a passion for staying current with the most recent technologies and always had insights that none of the rest of us had. He also loved attending the annual Esri User Conference and the opportunity to both see and acknowledge the great work of GIS professionals from around the world. He always said that giving out the Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Awards was his favorite day of the year. Continue reading

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The Climate Change-GIS Connection

Climate change and its effects are fundamentally geographic challenges that require a geographic approach, where we endeavor to understand the constraints a changing climate imposes upon the terrestrial and aquatic systems we depend.

Geography is a powerful multidimensional framework enabling scientists to explore data layers, discover emergent new patterns, and test alternative scenarios; so we can understand the risks, develop proactive adaptation strategies, and increase society’s long-term resilience to climate change through policy modification. Esri is committed to providing tools to accelerate the global community’s ability to access content, do analyses and share results. Continue reading

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GIS: Transforming Our World

To everyone who attended the 2013 Esri User Conference, I want to thank you for helping to make this year’s User Conference such a great success.  For those who could not attend, let me take a few minutes to give you an overview of my opening remarks on Monday morning.

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The theme of this year’s User Conference was “GIS: Transforming Our World.”  When I first started looking into this magical word transformation, I found something really profound.  It basically means change.  Changing in two ways–physical change as well as the perception of what we see.  And GIS has a lot of relevance to both of these kinds of change.  Your work as GIS professionals is physically changing the world through all kinds of activities.  But it’s also changing how we see things, and how we communicate them, which is driving changes in the way we understand and interact with our world. Continue reading

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Understanding Our World with Landsat Data and ArcGIS

Landsat data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) is one of the best sources for understanding and analyzing changes to our world that have occurred over the last 40 years. With the launch of Landsat 8 in February of this year, the continuity of the program is assured into at least the next decade. Esri continues to support making Landsat imagery and image processing part of our platform and has recently added more capabilities to ArcGIS that make it even easier to analyze and enhance Landsat data.

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Transforming ArcGIS into a Platform

At the foundation of Esri’s work are the belief and vision that geography is a science that creates a better understanding of our world. Using GIS, geography has also become a unifying framework for integrating many forms of digital information. GIS has now become an important technology in almost every field, improving efficiency, communication, and decision making. Our users have made GIS come alive in countless applications across thousands of organizations. I would like to both acknowledge and thank our users and partners for supporting Esri’s mission of evolving our GIS technology.


Historical Context

Over the last four decades, Esri has evolved both its business model and technology offerings through four distinct phases always focused on GIS software services and support.

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GIS is STEM!

Today’s youth are tomorrow’s decision makers, and an understanding of geography and the use of geospatial technology will be crucial to helping them make good decisions that affect global health and community life. Unfortunately, geography has always been sort of an “underdog” in our educational system; it’s been misunderstood, generalized, and sometimes ignored. Even today, as we see increased focus on STEM in education, we frequently see geography completely disregarded as a component of STEM.

This is very unfortunate. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Geography touches heavily on all of these disciplines, and the application of geospatial technology helps us to better understanding cross-disciplinary phenomena and solve important problems. GIS, GPS, and remote sensing can be used to simultaneously engage students in science, technology, engineering, and math.

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Geography as a Platform

Following are a few notes from my talk at the 2012 Esri User Conference. You can watch the complete video here.

Geography is our platform for understanding the world.  GIS is making geography come alive. GIS condenses down all of our data, our information, our knowledge, and our science into a kind of language that we can easily understand: maps.

Maps help us integrate and apply our knowledge. Maps also tell stories—stories about almost everything in our world. We need to harness the power of maps to design the future and create better outcomes.

I’m very confident that we can do this. One reason is that GIS itself is advancing; it’s getting more powerful and it’s getting easier to use. It’s evolving with lots of new capabilities. It’s moving to the cloud and becoming more pervasive. GIS has evolved mapping to a new level, creating geography as a platform.

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Can Geodesign Help Us Adapt to Climate Change?

The earth’s climate is changing, leading to serious problems for humanity in areas such as food security, health, and public safety. We need to adapt swiftly. But where do we start? Should we reinforce or rebuild existing structures? Or should we abandon existing settlements and relocate the population in some cases? And how can mass rebuilding/relocation efforts be best accomplished from human, environmental, and economic perspectives?

Geodesign is a framework for understanding the complex relationships between human-designed settlements and the changing environment, for quickly planning ways to adapt existing communities and build new ones in a more sustainable manner. This methodology helps us assess risk, identify change, create synergies, develop strategies, adapt to change, and monitor the results. Geodesign takes an interdisciplinary, synergistic approach to solving the critical problems of future design—to optimize location, orientation, and the features of projects at local and global scales.

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GIS and The City 2.0

More than 50% of the 7 billion people inhabiting our planet now live in cities, a number projected to grow to more than 75% during this century. The growth of cities as the center of the human world was highlighted when “The City 2.0” was awarded the 2012 TED Prize.  “For the first time in the history of the prize, it is being awarded not to an individual, but to an idea,” the TED committee stated. “It is an idea upon which our planet’s future depends.”

Clearly cities will play an increasingly important role in our future survival. Cities offer easier access to services, and urban dwellers are more efficient consumers of limited resources. Cities are human destiny. But as our cities become more populated and more numerous, how do we best manage this complexity?

We need to start thinking about cities in a different way.

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