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Dangermond Kicks-Off Esri Federal GIS Conference – Plenary Wrap-Up

Today kicks off Esri’s annual Federal GIS Conference. The conference is a two-day event featuring over 100 Professional Development Workshops, five in-depth Immersion Summits, a show floor with over 80 partners, two plenary sessions, and over 12 hours of detailed training at Esri’s Hands-On Learning Lab.

The event connects policy makers, analysts, and staff throughout the federal government who are looking to leverage GIS, and to connect with peers to share best practices. This year, Esri also added an additional training exclusively for developers. On February 12, Esri is hosting the ever Esri Developer Summit Washington, DC.

This year the vision for the conference is: GIS, integrating our government. “Our nation is facing serious challenges, we see this in the economic front, environment and social world. We clearly need to set a better future,” said Jack Dangermond, Esri President, during his opening remarks during the Plenary Session. Dangermond notes that to put our world on a positive course, it will take our best technology, leaders and organizations to create a stronger future for government. Yet, Dangermond believes that government is also challenged like never before. Today, government leaders are faced with challenges such as:

  • Challenges to engage citizens through new mediums
  • Collaborate across agencies
  • Create consensus to drive improved policy outcomes
  • Find value and insights from complex data

For many agencies, GIS is a solution to help overcome these challenges. GIS is one of the few technologies that seamlessly leverages additional technologies and solutions, such as, big data, mobile, cloud and visualization. Dangermond hints at this trend during the Plenary, “GIS is not replacement technology, it is an integration technology and embracing what that means.”

This event shows the power of GIS and the impact that it is making across the federal government. GIS is no longer just for programmers, Esri now has created a GIS platform for government to innovate and build upon. Esri defines GIS as: a geographic information system (GIS) lets us visualize, question, analyze, interpret, and understand data to reveal relationships, patterns, and trends. Yet, the Plenary reminds us that GIS is so much more. What is GIS? The reality is that GIS is constantly evolving, and we’re learning and seeing new examples emerge from the public sector. The best way to define GIS is show highlight the case studies that are transforming the public sector. Some examples include:

  1. HUD GIS Web Service Helps Target Aid
  2. Mobile Application Illustrates US Recovery Projects
  3. Insuring America’s Farmland

Dangermond was joined on stage by various Esri staff highlighting changes to ArcGIS and Esri solutions, in an effort to make an easier user experience, and drive more value from GIS investments. The changes revolve around the effort to make GIS applicable to all in government, as everything in government holds a spatial component. Communications, crisis management, cybersecurity, and health programs, all can leverage GIS. Dangermond notes that this is part of the goal at Esri, as he pondered: “Can we scale GIS up? Can we make it more pervasive?” The answer is yes: GIS is diving deeper into agencies, and as Dangermond observed, “We see the context along with the content of each other’s work [with GIS],” said Dangermond.

What was great to see during the Plenary is the focus on how this event is about the people using Esri solutions, and the desire to continue to develop and improve based on user feedback. Dangermond emphasized this throughout his presentation, and reminded the audience that emerging technology is only one portion of transforming government, but the people behind the tools and driving change, and cannot be overlooked. “GIS professionals, you in this room, are essential to make this [transforming government] come about,” said Dangermond.

I’m excited to see what the rest of the Esri Federal Conference holds. As Dangermond said, “In many ways GIS is a platform for understanding.” GIS is truly driving new insights and improves the policy making process for government.

Note: Esri usually records these events to view for those who could not attend (and since I can see the camera, I am assuming the same for this year!). Check back here and I’ll share some links of video for the Plenary. There’s a ton of great content and demos happening. I wish could share them all with you. Hang tight, and will share over some videos when they become available, lots of great developments around ArcGIS, real-time, 3D, servers, integrations, open data, apps, cloud and mobile.

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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 ArcGIS.com. Be sure to check out all the
 GIS resources produced by Esri and GovLoop.

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