2013 Esri UC Plenary Overview

“GIS leverages the best science and technology,” said Esri president Jack Dangermond in his opening address during the Plenary at the 2013 Esri UC. Addressing an audience of thousands of GIS users, he said, “Building on your existing work, you will transform our world.”

Jack Dangermond at the 2013 Esri UC Plenary

GIS is transforming our world.

Here are some highlights from the Plenary.

What’s New?                                   

Jack and his expert team presented Esri’s strides in GIS services, content, analytics, and enterprise platforms. New tools and applications will help users work more efficiently and see more clearly. Esri showcased its latest advancements in web GIS computing, enterprise platforms, GIS data, and software cloud services.

Bigger Content

Esri content is organic in nature as the collection is continually growing with data contributions from thousands of organizations. Esri presenters described this year’s ArcGIS content offerings of new basemaps and authoritative datasets. New imagery products include extensive, 30-m imagery for the entire US (both remote and populated areas) as well as for many European countries and thousands of cities around the world. More demographic products, such as USA per capita income, are now available. Also added are imagery basemaps, soils, geology, and living elements of the world such as species, vegetation, and habitat.

Premium Image Services provide highly accurate, current imagery data. This ArcGIS Online offering includes premium imagery data from RapidEye, DigitalGlobe, and AccuWeather, all on one platform. The imagery data is streamed directly into ArcGIS. Users access the multispectral service and use tools to change band combinations on the fly, or select predefined imagery content such as vegetation.

Jack announced that ArcGIS for Desktop licenses will now include subscriptions to ArcGIS Online, literally opening a world of content that is directly accessible within the ArcGIS environment.

More Analytic Tools

The Esri team announced new analytic capabilities, such as the land modeler web application. The mobile user selects multiple data layers, controls the impact of chosen variables, instantly changes value weights for these variables, and runs an analysis.

Solution templates provide location analytics themes and applications. Location analytics processes are easier than ever before due to integrations with Microsoft Windows and IBM Cognos. Within these common business tools, users can visualize the data they use daily and bring it into their analytical process. Whether connected or disconnected from the organization’s platform, anyone can use GIS for analysis.

An Esri presenter demonstrated the ease of analytical tools to create a statistical hotspot on the map. Geoprocessing tools automate the hot spot process to run spatial outlines, calculate cluster distances, and create an intelligent visualization.

Another tool making analytics easier is the Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS, which monitors, tracks, and reports sensor data. To demonstrate this tool, a presenter used it to track an airplane’s location and measure jet noise levels. A similar application for the iPhone can also capture jet noise levels and add GPS coordinates. He drew a virtual fence around an area on the map and set the application to respond when a sensor within the virtual fence had been triggered by sending alerts to mobile devices.

Better Performance

Esri developers explained the extensive performance capabilities of ArcGIS for managing large datasets and running visualization and analysis tools. Geoprocessing tools automate the import and export processes for JSON and Microsoft Office. ArcGIS takes advantage of a computer’s CPUs for parallel processing, which boosts response. Performance enhancements have improved geoprocessing and analytical tools such as those used to perform feature-weighted analyses. Developers and Esri staff alike can use GitHub to share templates and code that make GIS more useable for their organization.

User Presentations

Real world users demonstrated how GIS has helped their towns, businesses, and students:

  • From Roosevelt High School, Los Angeles, California, a team of 11th graders demonstrated their class projects that uncovered environmental injustices in their community. Sponsored by will.i.am, the project helps students develop skills that advances their careers.
  • GIS experts from CenterPoint Energy demoed Esri’s new Portal for ArcGIS, an offering that is similar to ArcGIS Online. CenterPoint Energy hosts the platform at its site behind its own firewall. Staff uses the company’s operational data as well as additional content. The team demonstrated how Portal for ArcGIS is extremely secure and supports a range of applications and datasets. This has transformed the company’s processes as staff is now able to move away from static maps to dynamic GIS.
  • The Bavarian State Forest Administration GIO described the German organization’s enterprise GIS and talked about the application his team built for disconnected editing in the forest. His team has built applications for its ArcGIS platform that complement the system.
  • Horry County, South Carolina’s GIO described how the county’s enterprise GIS extends to county staff who can access it on their mobile devices. The county requires that GIS be a part of every significant project. He demonstrated the value of the enterprise system for hurricane disasters, tax assessments, and crime management.
  • Infrastructure in India is undergoing change. Sam Pitroda, advisor to the prime minister of India for Public Information Infrastructure and Innovation, described how the country’s national GIS is essential to its development plans and implementation.

Urban Observatory

Urban Observatory is a program inspired by Richard Saul Wurman, the creator of TED. The project was introduced at the UC Plenary by Hugh Keegan. Urban Observatory uses live data to illustrate cities in a common way around the world so that you can compare them. The project can provide valuable insight for city planners, anthropologists, sociologists, engineers, and urban scientists.

Esri Award Winners

Enterprise GIS Award: Lands Department, Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Accepted by Mr. Dominic Wai Ching Siu, deputy director of survey and mapping.

Making a Difference Award: John E. Wennberg for the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care.

President’s Award: Direct Relief, for their work providing medical and humanitarian supplies to populations in need around the world. Accepted by Dorothy Largay, board member, and Andrew Schroeder, director of research and analysis.


Musician and noted philanthropist will.i.am shared the value of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to help under-privileged inner-city kids set a course for professional careers.

Journalist James Fallows discussed the importance of GIS technology for informing the public of news events and improving journalism.

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  1. rpminfonet says:

    Folks, ArcGIS Pro is certainly a highlight, the long awaited 64 bit application!  Looks great too with a ribbon toolbar and task context.  Unified labeling, no more 5 clicks down to shadow text.etc. and you can now preview fonts.  Better integrated GP UX.  Jim McKinney is an Esri treasure that all users, not just the developers, benefit from.  More Jim please.

  2. rpminfonet says:

    Also, Will gets the business visualization of the year award for his oral rendering of the Hollywood sign reading OBESITY over the peaks.

  3. philipp37 says:

    Some cool things coming in 10.2!  ”Jack announced that ArcGIS for Desktop licenses will now include subscriptions to ArcGIS Online”.  - that’s great!For people interested in seeing what is being tweeted about at the UC 2013 you can head over to a dedicated #esriuc tweet page at:  http://gisbuzz.com/gis-tweets  This page will feature #esriuc, @esri, and other tweets for the duration of the conference.