Using the Force and ArcGIS Data Mapping in the Golden Age of Data

This week Esri has been holding various events to teach, collaborate with and get feedback from government agencies. The hope is that through this collaboration, Esri can continue to create tools and platforms such as ArcGIS that can be used by government agencies to help groups of people and the nation as a whole.

To close the conference, Esri managed to get Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of the United States to make some closing remarks before opening the floor to feedback.

It is easy to say that Mr. Park was probably the most excited person in the room about ArcGIS and data mapping technology. Despite the dark clouds of sequestration looming, he managed to bring a beacon of light to the room and the future of data management technology. He opened his brief, but poignent speech by thanking the room full of feds for the work they had already done, and told them that “Your best work is yet to come.” He described the era that we are stepping into as the “new golden age of data,” a time full of possibilities. That said he plainly stated that “data by itself is useless,” it is just statistics, names, and incoherent measurements. What is done with that data, what is done by the people is what is so extraordinary. Taking the power out of the inanimate hands of the vague term “technology,” Mr. Park instead thrust the power back into the laps of people, the federal workers who often feel that they are at the mercy of technological developments.

With that power, he presented a three part challenge.

“Here’s my challenge to you,” he said:

1. Innovate

Don’t be afraid to try and make things better. Look at technology as something that provides endless possibilities but can be harnessed and used in a million ways to benefit government strategy.


Collaborate with each other, between agencies, between government and Esri, between individuals. Great things come out of communication and sharing ideas.

3. Liberate
Don’t be afraid to push the envelope, to stop fearing data. Data is not a tidal wave to crush you beneath it, it is a pliable and movable opportunity that can be used to do exciting things. Make those things happen.

“We are living at the dawn of a new era of open government data,” said Mr. Park. He mentioned the various government data sites such as and as well as events to work on improving government transparency and data availability which he called “Data Jams, Hack-A-Thons and Data-Paloozas”. All of these resources are pushing towards a more productive and informed government, which leads to a more informed and productive nation. Our nation is “only limited by the imaginations of America’s best innovators,” which Mr. Park excitedly stated, was not a limitation by any means.
After his encouraging words that got even the most technologically-suspicious agents excited about Data mapping, Todd Park, CTO of the United States, closed in true tech-geek fashion, “May the Force be with you, may God bless you and May the Force with with the United States of America.”

Did you attend any Esri Conference events? What did you get out of them?

How, do you think, can data-mapping help your agency?

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Esri was founded in 1969, it realized even then that geographic information system (GIS) technology could make a difference in society. GIS helps people to solve problems at local, regional, national, and global scales. Access maps and apps at Be sure to check out all the
 GIS resources produced by Esri and GovLoop.

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