Making a World of Difference

Common Goals Unite Sustainable World Community at 2016 Esri User Conference

By: David Gadsden

Some use GIS to serve their citizens; others use the technology to turn a profit or manifest insight from big data. While many uses for GIS can be achieved, it’s possible that none are as noble as the underlying goal of the people exhibiting at the Esri User Conference Sustainable World showcase—sustaining the earth and making the world a better place.

The Esri User Conference Sustainable World showcase gathered likeminded nonprofits such as Woods Hole Research Center and the National Audubon Society to share how they are using GIS to change the world for the better.

United through the purpose of the Global Goals, the nonprofit organizations present at the showcase networked with colleagues to talk about common goals and collaborate toward achieving positive change. Goals discussed included eliminating poverty and hunger; advancing good health, quality education, and gender equality; securing clean water, decent employment, and reduced inequalities; promoting responsible consumption, industrial production, and climate action; protection of life in oceans and on land; and establishing peace and justice for all.

These sentiments were reinforced at the Sustainable World Community social where more than 250 individuals from international administrations, the United Nations, conservation groups, and humanitarian organizations congregated to celebrate the positive impacts of their growing contingency. The lively showing took place at the San Diego Convention Center’s upper west terrace and featured prominent attendees including Domingo Ankuash, recipient of Esri’s Making a Difference award. Ankuash uses GIS to drive meaningful change with the seven Amazonian tribes he leads.

Esri’s Making a Difference award recipient Domingo Ankuash presented the Global Goals for sustainable development at the Sustainable World Community social.

Organizations similar to Ankuash’s AmazonGISNET employ several innovative means to communicate their missions, including Esri Story Maps. Groups such as National Geographic, the National Trust for History Preservation, the Puente Institute, the Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Foundation, and the National Audubon Society employ Story Maps to convey the goals and progress of their programs through maps, rich media, and powerful narrative.

Aptly, the common theme throughout the Sustainable World showcase were stories of each organization’s successes in sustainability and accomplishing positive impacts.

HALO Trust works to clear unexploded ordnances around the world by training and employing thousands of regional deminers, saving lives and supporting the local economy in the process. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation uses geospatial information to assess difficult parts of the world to reach, ensuring their resources provide opportunity for less fortunate individuals to pursue happy, healthy, and productive lives.

TeamDEV s.r.l. chief executive officer Andrea Cruciani and Esri nonprofit sector lead David Gadsden discuss the role of GIS in achieving the Global Goals.

Through their focus of sustaining ape habitats in the Congo forest basin and East Africa, which positively impact the livelihoods of thousands of species that might otherwise be subject to deforestation, the Jane Goodall Institute also manages a youth program in more than 100 countries which uses GIS to identify environmental community projects.

The Woods Hole Research Center, whose Cape Cod, Massachusetts headquarters were constructed with ecofriendly and recycled materials, relies on geospatial visualization to convey research dedicated to smart land use; the reduction of deforestation; the impacts of permafrost melt; and the environmental factors for increasing boreal forest fire turnover.

Esri and partners expand the Sustainable World Community one individual at a time.

Organizations such as these comprised the Sustainable World Community at the Esri User Conference and were joined by many others who look to leave the world in a better place than they found it.

Learn more about how organizations are using GIS to enhance sustainability by visiting

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The ArcGIS Imagery Book: A Geographic Rosetta Stone

Imagery is Visible Intelligence

By: Dave Grenley

The next generation of imagery intelligence comes alive in The ArcGIS Imagery Book: New View. New Vision., published by Esri Press. It is now available in print, interactive PDF, and interactive companion website.

The new book provides readers with a wealth of gorgeous, inspiring images and links to powerful web apps and maps that weave interesting stories about our planet and the issues we face. Readers will also gain foundational knowledge about how imagery and remote sensing is used for geographic information system (GIS) technology.

The ArcGIS Imagery Book offers a look back at the fascinating history and rapid evolution of earth observation technology. Readers will learn about modern earth imaging technologies and how imagery data can be used in GIS—for real world applications such as asset management, precision agriculture, emergency response, real estate geolocation, urban planning, natural disaster assessment, and climate studies.

Additionally, readers will gain hands-on experience working with powerful imagery and remote-sensing data through the book’s companion lesson plan from the Learn ArcGIS organization.

The book’s editors, Clint Brown, Esri director of software products, and Christian Harder, Esri senior editor and writer, said they hope the book will help turn readers into “GIS and imagery aces.”

The ArcGIS Imagery Book is the second in a series of publications from Esri (following The ArcGIS Book) that provides an online interactive learning experience for readers to take advantage of, at their own pace. “It comes with intelligent information items: maps, web scenes, analytic models, story maps—just amazing rich content,” said Brown. “We get into real-world problem solving and real-world applications.”

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Legislators Use Esri ArcGIS to Better Represent Constituents

By: Peter LiCalsi, Esri

Esri’s Lauren Lipovic and Bonnie Stayer demonstrated how GIS data is solving one of the biggest challenges politicians face. Political views of constituencies often vary and contradict those of others across a region. During a role-playing session at UC’s Public Policy exhibit, Ms. Lipovic assumed the part of a hypothetical Idaho Senator to demonstrate how a representative can use GIS to better understand these discrepancies.

Legislators can now leverage ArcGIS that governments typically use to enhance initiatives such as national parks services and defense intelligence, to visualize census data and see polling results on geospatial maps. These show the relationship between demographics and how voters communicate their opinions on issues to their representatives. For instance, the data about voter opinions concerning child poverty are overlaid on a basemap along with the locations showing where child poverty actually occurs.

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The 2016 Esri User Conference – That’s a Wrap!

By: Barbara Shields

Its people that make GIS powerful and people that make a GIS conference great. GIS users, students, business teams, executives, Esri staff, Esri business partners, and celebrities gathered at the Esri UC User Conference in San Diego, California, to be part of the greatest GIS happening on the planet. It has been a very packed week.


Jack Dangermond shares his vision about GIS enabling a smarter world

During the plenary Jack Dangermond presented the maps of GIS users around the world working in nearly every industry. The plenary production packed in 47 speakers that shared their visions, told their stories, demonstrated their work, and presented the latest technological innovations.

Andrea Wulf: Author Andrea Wulf shared the power of geography through the eyes of legendary scientist Alexander van Humboldt.

Richard Saul Wurman: Dreamers, such as Richard Saul Wurman, Founder of TED Talks, inspired people to think big.

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Changing the GIS Conversation in Government through the Future of Smart

Esri Users Share and Explore Smart Communities Trends, Use Cases, and Solutions at the 2016 User Conference

By: Samantha Mac Donald

What do smart communities mean to you? For GIS professionals working in government, it’s a well-known concept that is transforming the dialogue about geospatial technology within their organizations.

“While GIS may not be perceived as a top priority in government, it is the technology that enables communities to become smarter,” said Christopher Thomas, director of government markets at Esri. “GIS is evolving and getting smarter—and GIS professionals are more important than ever.”

GIS professionals attending the Esri User Conference in San Diego this week shared how the smart communities movement is enabling them to engage with decision makers in new ways and demonstrate the power of GIS.

“Smart communities is an initiative that is banding together everyone in government—and one that today’s savvy GIS professionals are leveraging to improve collaboration and increase GIS adoption within their organizations,” Thomas said.

The conversation is changing from “Do you want to be a part of my GIS committee?” to “Do you want to become a smarter community?”

The resounding answer is “yes.”

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The US Forest Service Receives the Esri 3D Excellence Award

By Barbara Shields, Esri

Esri honored the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USFS) with its 3D Excellence Award. The Forest Service uses 3D GIS to communicate wildfire information to a very large group of wildfire fighting teams. James Hubbard, deputy chief of the Forest Service, accepted the award during the Esri 3D Imaging and Mapping Forum, June 26, 2016.

“We are paying a lot of attention to reducing fire fighters’ unnecessary exposure to risk,” Hubbard said. “We don’t want to put firefighters into situations where they can’t succeed or have a low probability of succeeding. 3D mapping gives us a better idea of where they should go or not go. It also helps them be more effective firefighters.”

The Forest Service received the award because Esri considers it as a major contributor to the advancement of 3D GIS technology.  Its user requirements have helped Esri’s 3D development team set its priorities. The Forest Service uses 3D GIS to substantially communicate wildfire information to a very large group of its users. In one week, it trained 2,000 people to use a 3D wildfire management web application.

Staff easily accesses essential data provided by the National Interagency Fire Center, layers it onto a 3D base map, and has a multidimensional perspective of a wildfire’s progress.

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Top Ten ArcGIS Moments of Esri UC

By: Jessica Wyland

Powerful, inspiring, magnificent, and forward-thinking are just some of the words to describe the work being done by GIS users around the world. The energy and enthusiasm of the GIS community was on display at the 2016 Esri User Conference in San Diego. The 37th annual conference was attended by some 15,000 GIS professionals, and followed online by many thousands more. “The Future of Smart” set the stage for showcasing how people use the Esri ArcGIS platform for Web GIS mapping, location apps, and open data sharing to make their organizations and communities stronger, vibrant, sustainable.

The Esri User Conference also showcased a deep-dive into all aspects of the ArcGIS platform, with the latest information on Esri apps, initiatives, and amazing array of resources and training opportunities for Esri GIS users. Solutions from hundreds of business partners were also on display to help organizations extend their GIS efforts in facilities management, indoor mapping, 3D mapping, imagery, conservation, transportation planning, land management, public health, and citizen services.

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Esri UC Sees Location in 3D

By Barbara Shields, Esri

Among the most exciting maps shown at the Esri UC were those that were in 3D. People were talking about using Esri 3D models to solve problems and see the big picture of the world around them.

Global Visualization: At the plenary, Joe Fraley’s presentation “3D Global Visualization” explained how ArcGIS Pro combines an organization’s 2D maps with lidar point clouds to quickly extrude a digital 3D building city scape.  Video runtime 05:13.

Smart 3D Cities: On the same stage, Brooks Patrick presented “Smart 3D Cities” to highlight cities that are doing amazing work. He demonstrated ways four cities are using 3D modeling to plan, design, and update city development, infrastructure, and services. Video runtime 03:17.

3D Content: In the Esri EXPO, the Esri 3D team members were on hand to demonstrate 3D modeling at the Product Themes Pavilion. They talked one-on-one with users and answered their questions.  Video runtime 01:06.

3D Excellence Award. Esri presented its 3D Excellence Award to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USFS) for using 3D maps as a strategic planning tool to fight wildfires. James Hubbard, deputy chief of the Forest Service, accepted the award.

The Esri 3D Suite is Sweet. Esri provides a full suite of 3D capabilities. This includes 3D desktop applications that allow you to create, maintain, and analyze 3D content, new apps such as ArcGIS Earth, and more.

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Panama Canal Expansion Opening Day Security Relies on Esri ArcGIS

By: Barbara Shields, Esri

The Panama Canal Expansion (PCE) project opened for business on June 26, 2016, the same day that the Esri National Security and Public Safety Summit convened in San Diego, California.  Carlos Contreras, the GIS manager at the Panama Canal Authority, presented a live demonstration of the first ships passing through the canal on a real-time map. The project’s GIS team used the Esri ArcGIS platform to support operations throughout the project phase as well as the security during the opening day events.

The world watched the PCE grand opening, which was attended by 15 heads of state. The event required tight security. Contreras’ GIS team coordinated with the police, special forces, national security, and the Red Cross to provide the geographic intelligence for monitoring the event.

As ships traveled through the canal starting at the Atlantic side of the canal, 20,000 attendees were also on the move in 280 buses. The busses traveled along the Canal’s banks stopping at towns and locks along the route. Security managers had a common operational view of the entire event via Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS. This allowed security teams to keep track of the entourage as well as the location of specific VIP.

Volunteers for the PCE event downloaded the Collector for ArcGIS app to their phones and provided on-the-ground information to the event command center. Esri’s new app Survey 123 for ArcGIS allowed security forces and health providers to track the locations and number of health incidents along the way as well as the patient care centers where they were being treated.

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Maricopa County Uses Esri to Better Inform its Citizens

By: Dave Grenley

Maricopa County’s Office of Enterprise Technology (OET) uses Esri to improve how it provides information to its 4 million citizens.

“The passion, vision and collaboration with the developer community is what makes Esri such a special company. The products they provide are feature-rich, intuitive and efficient. And that also describes the product development team,” said Tapas Das, GIS programmer and analyst for the OET.

As the county’s central service enterprise technology provider, OET serves over 30 county departments.

The stated vision of OET is to be recognized as a first-class technology organization by the citizens they serve. A factor in achieving that vision for many departments is the ability to share information on the web and mobile devices with the public. The solution lies in engaging, easy-to-use web maps.

“GIS has become a powerful tool for Maricopa County to leverage in creating new avenues for citizen interaction, communication and search functionality,” said Das.

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