ESRI UC Day 1 – My Stadium Rock moment..

ESRI UC main session

I of course knew it was coming, but is was nevertheless a very strange experience to see my face projected 10 metres high on the six screens at the ESRI user conference, as a video made by ESRI at the OS to celebrate the organisation winning this years Presidents Award was shown.

We are of course very proud to have been given the award, but what I don’t think came across very clearly today, is that it is really an award for the whole organisation, a wonderful team of people who are represented by the eleven of us here at the user conference.

The OS away team

The OS Away team with Jack, David Walsh, Steve Bennett, myself, Vanessa Lawrence, David Henderson, Matt White, Tim Warr, and Chris Maidens (Not in the picture Chiran Paruchuri, Rex Corfield and Malcolm Havercroft)

The OS has come a long way in the last few years and has even further to travel to really meet the needs of our customers, but where we are today is the product of hundreds of very bright people who care with a passion about their work and the organisation they work for.

My thanks to them and to Jack for recognising our success.

Written and submitted from the Wyndham San Diego Hotel, using a local open wifi network.

ESRI GIS Thoughts

ESRI UC and so it begins…


And so once again 14,000 ESRI GIS users descend on Downtown San Diego for a week of technical sessions and events which often has the atmosphere of a revivalist gathering, such is the ‘Cult of ESRI”, and I really mean that is a positive way, as I am a willing member of the other great technology cult, “the cult of mac“.

The size of this event for anyone coming from the Europe is staggering, the big convention is a North American phenomenon, the ESRI UC alone for San Diego is worth no less than $46m each year.

Today I attended the Executive Session of the User Conference, both a high level introduction to GIS and an insight into the current vision of ESRI which will be covered in much more detail tomorrow, remember this is for a senior executive audience, there is little technical detail 🙂

There is a clear vision developing around the concept of the Geoweb, a network of both GI clients and servers which offer the potential to democratise not just geographic data, but also geographical knowledge as represented by the publishing of spatial models or the mounting of analytical task based servers, the ability for example for a server in Australia to process data on a server in the USA, for display on a PDA in England.

This is an evolution beyond where we are today with the publishing of Data Services as described by ESRI for some time, and popularised by the mapping API’s of Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. This moves away from the relative simple and stable world of one to many publishing to the slightly scary world of many to many publishing.. initially these developments may be restricted to with corporate networks but ultimately, and here comes a very quotable phase from Jack, “The whole web becomes one GIS”.

So how realistic is this vision and how committed are ESRI to it, well ESRI as a private company have more latitude in their ability to make statements about the future than a public company, so words are cheap – however there are a couple of things that really make me think this is serious.

Firstly ESRI have put so much effort into building the necessary services technology over the past couple of years, literally thousands of man years..

The second hint is much less explicit, but is just as telling.. to make this vision work you need interoperability between systems and data, not everybody after-all is going to be using ESRI software.

For a number of years ESRI have offered I believe only lukewarm support of the OGC, and OGC standards, quite rightly in some cases being critical of some elements of them.. recently things have changed, you hear the OGC mentioned much more by ESRI staff and ESRI are much more active in the OGC helping to fix the things they think are wrong.

So time will tell, looks like another interesting week.

Written and submitted from the Wyndham San Diego Hotel, using a local open wifi network.

ESRI GIS Technology

Origami useful for mappers ?

No this is not about folding maps, rather a link to Geoff Zeiss comments on the usefulness of the new generation of mobile devices.

The mainstream IT press seems to have really stuck the knife into these devices, comparing them unfavourably to laptops and even tablet pc’s.

But as Geoff points out such devices really are useful to mobile workers, particularly if the issues with battery management are fixed – the two hours possible today is just not enough.

Now if these devices were to ship with solid state storage as announced by Samsung at Cebit, then you have a potentially robust solution with good battery life – a product that professional mobile users would pay a premium for.

Add to the mix ubiquitous wireless network availability, and applications like ArcGIS Explorer which I saw demoed again today in Redlands, which allow access to server based data not only for visualisation but also analysis, and you have quite a compelling proposition..

So Origami like devices do have a place, but as vertical solutions for professional mobile users, not the consumer market where users want smartphones !

Written and submitted from The Hilton Hotel, San Bernardino, using the hotel in-room internet connection.