Jack Dangermond, president of Esri, opened the Esri User Conference by welcoming nearly 15,000 attendees who came from more than 130 countries. The theme of the conference was GIS—Opening Our World.
“Our world is changing rapidly,” Dangermond said. “We need ways of understanding and planning our world. GIS is evolving into a new platform: cloud GIS. This is making geographic understanding pervasive. Cloud GIS integrates all types of geospatial data, models, and applications and makes them available as web maps. The cloud is agile and flexible. Esri is moving GIS to the cloud.”
Dangermond talked about many innovative advancements in Esri software and services including the release of ArcGIS 10.1, location analytics, and the integration of ArcGIS with business systems.
“GIS today is at a major turning point because it is now capable of broadening its reach enabling pervasive adoption,” said Dangermond. He introduced the concept of Geography as a Platform (GaaP), a system for the entire organization that delivers enabling technology to anyone, anywhere, on any type of device. One component of GaaP is that Esri has made ArcGIS Online a fundamental part of ArcGIS enterprise integration, thereby opening interoperability with core systems. Moreover, ArcGIS Online can be configured for your own organization.
Location analytics is improving business practices. Esri provides SaaS as a business model that works in the ArcGIS Online environment wherein users can find content and workflows laid out for them. Business systems such as IBM Cognos and Microsoft Office are now geo-enabled to provide geographic insight within other types of business intelligence.
Esri recognized very special people and organizations by presenting its annual awards. The Lifetime Achievement award was presented to renowned landscape architect Stephen Ervin; the President’s Award was presented to the US Environmental Protection Agency; and two Making a Difference Awards were presented: one to the Trust for Public Lands and the other to Peter Carlisle, Mayor of Honolulu, Hawaii.
During the Esri technology sessions, Esri experts and users showed the capabilities of ArcGIS 10.1 and new tools, work processes, and workflows. The overriding theme was how GIS creates a common operating picture that is interactive via web applications and platform sharing. The Utah Department of Transportation director John Thomas described how its GIS platform UPLAN incorporates and applies ArcGIS as a complete system for various state services. The GIS manager of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, described how the templates in the ArcGIS for Local Government Resource Center had saved him hundreds of hours in development time.
Esri celebrated the 40th anniversary of the USGS Landsat Project. Landsat data is available for free as an ArcGIS Online service.
This year’s keynote speaker, Julia Marton-Lefèvre, director-general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), addressed the problem of species loss. “With each species’ extinction, the beauty of our planet diminishes,” she said. She sees GIS as an important technology for locating species and preserving their habitats. Vineet Katryna showed how the newly launched IUCN Red List of Threatened Species map service, built on ArcGIS 10.1, accesses data for 30,000 species, showing their location and habitat.