Category Archives: Vision

Esri Teams up with XPRIZE to Advance Sea Floor Mapping

by Jyotika I. Virmani, Senior Director of Energy and Environment for XPRIZE and Dawn Wright, Esri Chief Scientist

Over 60% of the Earth’s surface has not yet been mapped. The ocean covers 70% of our planet’s landmass, and of that, less than 15% of the sea floor has been mapped at a resolution greater than 5 km. In fact, we have higher resolution maps of the entire surface of the Moon, Venus, and Mars than we do of our own Earth. But this situation can be changed. We are in the midst of a Technological Revolution and with the advent of exponential technologies such as 3D printing, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality, we now have smaller and cheaper tools and greater access to information.

Mapping the sea floor has, historically, been a challenge. Seawater is obviously opaque, which prevents us from using visible, remote surveying techniques to get maps of the sea floor. Seawater is a harsh and corrosive medium and, with a viscosity greater than air, it has additional engineering challenges such as high friction resulting in rapid power drain for any device that is used to map the bathymetry underwater. It is also expensive to access because the technology of today requires ships to sail to the area being mapped before the mapping technology is deployed. At an average cost of $60,000 a day, it can easily cost a few hundred thousand dollars before mapping can even begin.

The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, a 3-year competition launched last December, is incentivizing innovators to develop the autonomous underwater robots we need to map the sea floor at 5m or higher resolution and take high-definition images of the deep sea. Within this is a $1 million National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Bonus Prize, for teams who can develop an underwater tracking device that can autonomously track a biological or chemical to its source. The devices will be shore-based or aerial deployments, removing the massive costs associated with ships.  The competition will conclude in December 2018 and, like all other XPRIZE competitions, there will be a number of technical solutions that emerge to provide underwater cartographers the tools they need to survey the sea floor.

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Where’s the “G” in IS?

Visitors to Esri often pause for pictures beside an ivy-covered wall emblazoned with the word GEOGRAPHY in raised metal letters. The inscription speaks to an ingrained belief that geography offers a unique framework for organizing the world’s knowledge in a way that fosters better decision-making and a more sustainable future. Consistent with this belief, the education outreach team I lead at Esri does what we can to nurture geographic thinking and methods across the spectrum of academic disciplines.

That’s a big job. Disciplines have proliferated since the advent of the modern university in the 19th and 20th centuries. Consider this concept map of contemporary academic disciplines.  Few disciplines depicted explicitly recognize geography, let alone GIS, as an integral way of understanding the world. Given the longstanding claim that a science of geographic information undergirds GIS (Goodchild 1992), you might suppose that Information Science is one of the disciplines that’s likely to appreciate the special properties of spatial data. If so, you’d be surprised to find that there’s precious little “G” is IS.

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World Humanitarian Day – August 19 “One Humanity”

By Raquel Perez

We are seeing the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time! Are you willing to answer the call to action?

World Humanitarian Day (WHD), August 19th, celebrates and recognizes humanitarian aid workers who risk their lives to improve the lives of others. This day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly to mark the anniversary of the 2003 bombing at the UN Headquarters in Bagdad, which killed 21 UN workers including Serio Vieira de Mello, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq. See the story map to learn more!

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Collaboration When It Counts: Esri Partner Technology Addressing Domestic Terrorism

Smart City Tech Summit Social

Since 2013, more than 160 active shooter situations have taken place in the United States. Imagine for a moment if those incidents could have been prevented through the use of modern technologies such as mapping software, drones, social media analysis … Continue reading

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FedGIS 2016: Innovation that Inspires Change

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In less than one day over 4,000 professionals gather at the 2016 Esri Federal GIS Conference (FedGIS), February 24-25, to explore ground-breaking ways government uses geospatial technology to solve the world’s greatest challenges. Join our community and Esri President, Jack … Continue reading

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Esri’s Commitment to Open

In the spirit of openness, I want to share with you today what it means to us, at Esri, to make ArcGIS an open platform.

We are committed to ensuring that your data and systems are interoperable with other technologies. This is a challenge because our user organizations have different or unique approaches, philosophies, and preferences for implementing interoperability. In response, we take multiple pathways to interoperability—a tactic that has, so far, been successful for thousands of users working with complex systems.

Please take a few moments to review the following information about the work we are doing to build ArcGIS as an open platform. Continue reading

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A Location Strategy versus a GIS Strategy

It has been said many times that every 21st century dataset contains location. Geoenabled databases and systems exist everywhere in business, government, and society. But somehow we are still missing the value of that location data.

In my role as a marketing director at Esri, I meet a lot of people. Usually, they fall into two camps: those who’ve been enjoying the benefits of this GIS technology for decades and those who are new to the world of spatial data, analysis, and GIS.

One of the questions I’m often asked is, What’s the difference between a location strategy and a GIS strategy? The two are close cousins. While a GIS strategy many times refers to the implementation of systems and technology, I see a location strategy as implementing the business of using and understanding location data across an organization. Let me explain. Continue reading

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Six Things that Modern Maps Do

From the dawn of humankind, man has sketched crude abstractions of geography on cave walls and rocks. These early maps documented and communicated important geographic knowledge our ancestors needed to survive.

Fast-forward to 2015. The world has become significantly more complex than it was for our early ancestors. But luckily we now have information technologies at our disposal to help us solve the increasingly complex problems. It’s a natural fit to apply these powerful information technologies to the serious environmental, geographic, and social problems we face. And thus the modern map was born.

Modern maps can be used to tell stories, and apps provide the user experience through which we work with maps and share them. Here are six things that modern maps do to help us address the complex problems we face today. Continue reading

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Go Big Time with Big Data

Big data is measured by volume, velocity, and variety. My colleague and fellow big data lover Mansour Raad recently highlighted how these three measures themselves are increasing almost exponentially in today’s sensored world while talking at one of the commercial business special interest groups (SIGs) during the Esri User Conference (UC).

Big data is expanding at an ever increasing rate. Businesses need to find a way to manage and measure it to be successful.

We no longer store and batch process data. Today, everything is in a stream—a misnomer when we consider the tidal wave of data. We have also become living, breathing, walking, talking sensors thanks to our smart phones and Fitbit-like devices that track us as we are active, eating, and even our sleep. Continue reading

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Esri: Serving Our Users, Advancing GIS and Spatial Literacy

If you could not attend the 2015 User Conference and hear my opening remarks last Monday, I’d like to share a few thoughts about Esri’s role in serving our users as well as advancing GIS and spatial literacy. 

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 Our organization is about serving you, our users, with what you need and want. It’s also about advancing GIS and a geographic initiative, promoting, and supporting the notion of “geoenlightenment.”

As an organization, Esri is strong and we’re continuing to grow. We’re dedicated to this. And we’re excited to see what you can accomplish and to watch your work evolve.


Professional Development

We’ve been investing heavily in opportunities for your continued professional development with a number of lifelong learning initiatives. This includes meetings like User Conferences where you can get together with your peers and learn from them as well as share your own best practices. We’ve been investing in more virtual classes and a number of other initiatives such as MOOCs—these massive online learning efforts; Esri Press, now with several hundred books published; technical certifications; and GeoNet, an online community to try to keep the kind of learning and sharing that happens at our User Conferences going all year long, all around the world, for all of our users.

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