Author Archives: Richard Leadbeater
See You in San Diego, Esri Users!
Every so often, you can get lonely at the Esri User Conference (UC).
Now in my 27th year of attending UC (my 17th as an Esri employee), it’s sometimes difficult to remember what it’s like to be a user at the conference. As I sit at my desk today preparing my slides and reviewing the agenda for all the interesting sessions (that I probably won’t make it to) while trying to confirm last minute meetings, I had a memory of my first UC.
In looking back on the last month, two items have occupied my thoughts, our whereabouts, and the upcoming elections. These two items may seem unconnected, dissimilar, or even odd, but I’ve come to the conclusion that we don’t think about them enough, together.
Whereabouts to Placemaking
Whereabouts: There is much talk today about getting people interested in and, in general, persuading people to consider and think about their whereabouts. Their whereabouts at home, at work, and as they are out-and-about in their community, living their lives.
The term placemaking is an overarching idea for improving one’s neighborhood, community, or city. To be heavy-handed, it is trying to reinvent how people can make their place in the community. Placemaking compels us to consider, in our civic interactions, our whereabouts; our places occupied by, our home, our neighborhood, and our community where we live with our fellow citizens.
Driving change through GIS
The technology we use today, both in our work and personal lives, has become interchangeable. The smartphone that is available through any retailer today is as capable, or more capable, than what most people need for work. The computer that I used at my desk, just a few years ago, is less capable than the phone that I carry at my hip. One might say that we are holding onto an overabundance of computing potential in our very hand. Add to this the throughput broadband and 4G wireless networks allow. One only has to watch the news to see how citizens are reacting to this abundance of connectivity. Information about your family, friends, and business acquaintances is at your fingertips. So is information about your bank accounts, credit cards, hotel reservations, or a sale at your favorite store. But government is a different animal—it is cautious and slow to change. And it is this change that occupies the thoughts of many public leaders. Just as we’re growing to expect more information and answers at our fingertips, citizens’ expectations of government are also growing. Continue reading
If you build it, will they come?
If one questioned the general public about redistricting, as a Pew survey did in 2006, one would find only modest awareness of the topic and generally negative opinions of the current process. This comes as no surprise to those who observed the 2010 elections and follow trends in open government and transparency. Citizens are less inclined to trust their elected officials than ever before, and the redistricting exercises this spring may provide further grounds for discontent. Continue reading