One of the largest events in the GIS calendar, our Cartographic Design team were represented at the event for the first time when Christopher attended the conference in San Diego from 8–12 July. The event offered the latest updates on what is happening in the world of ESRI software as well as many themed presentation sessions over the five days.
The week began with the plenary session including highlights of what’s new in the ESRI product suite and case studies including Philadelphia Police Department using GIS to match up burglary patterns and addresses of known or suspected criminals and to create predictive maps and hot spots to advise police where best to be deployed for maximum effect. Many of the topics covered in the plenary session have been used in the online GIS of Horry County, some of which has public access.
Also in the plenary, Satyanarayan (Sam) Pitroda spoke excellently on GIS development in India. Whilst many of the world’s populations are decreasing and elderly, India’s is young and growing. The challenge, as Dr. Pitroda – advisor to the Indian Government – put it, is to feed them and to train them with the best education possible. Whilst worldwide talent is preoccupied with solving the problems of the rich, in India they are training their own young talent in GIS to help tackle the problems of the poor. He continued to describe how India needs a standard and socially-inclusive method of connectivity, access, organisation, policy and innovation and how all of these are related to GIS.
Unsurprisingly it was Will.i.am and his team of school children who headlined the plenary sessions. He gave an open interview to ESRI president Jack Dangermond and described the work that the i.am.angel foundation is doing to help children in deprived areas learn and appreciate the value of GIS. His genuine desire to help give children the platform to build a better life from really shone through. He has a unique ability to spot potential and possibility, even comparing ghetto codes being used to protect gang territory to businesses writing code and protecting intellectual property. He is giving GIS the same attention he gave science and robotics with i.am.FIRST as currently being aired on entertainment television channel E! Whereas boxing brought his home neighbourhood of East Los Angeles a champion in Oscar de la Hoya, Will hopes that his STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) campaign can see such a deprived area produce the next Facebook or Google.
Another large attraction at the conference was the map gallery. We entered two maps into the map gallery to give other ESRI users a flavour of what we have been producing with the software: An example of OS VectorMap, a product derived automatically from large-scale data using our new multi-resolution database, and some work we have done with CIFAS, the UK’s fraud prevention service, an example of choropleth mapping using ArcGIS.
Many of the other maps on show were more thematic than ours and highlighted the diverse range of fields using GIS and producing mapped output from it.
The themes of the presentation sessions were also quite varied, from Populating GIS with Good Data to Geodesign to Production Mapping, but many shared a common element of using the new version of ESRI’s ArcGIS Online service in particular the storyboard element that allows a map display to update in synchrony with the scroll of a written article.
As well as the plenary coverage, ESRI staff gave many presentations throughout the week on offering slightly more in-depth introductions to many of the new and upcoming features of ArcGIS, of which the online functionality, the improved integration with Microsoft Office complete with attractive user interface, parallel CPU processing and export to ESRI CityEngine features all stood out as particularly impressive.
In the Cartographic Design session, Christopher presented an introduction to Ordnance Survey’s Cartographic Design principles. This taster went down very well and we hope to get the principles up online as soon as possible, so keep checking the blog for further details. The other talks in the session by Patrick Kennelly and Vanessa Bauman respectively introduced a new hillshading creation technique and a method for questioning what a map user really requires. Both of which were extremely useful and we are likely to adopt both ourselves in some capacity.
On the subject of cartography, Aileen Buckley (who chaired the above session) and Dr. Kenneth Field gave a comprehensive presentation on Making Beautiful Maps. Aileen has released a few add-ons for ArcGIS that look quite interesting including a bivariate renderer. Ken brushed up on the basic techniques of map creation to a more GIS-orientated audience before showing how he replicated Minard’s 19th Century map of Napoleon’s march on Moscow and then converted it to a 3-dimensional timeline! Whilst quite abstract it was a great way to showcase some of the less familiar tools within ArcGIS. Finally he – just as many other presenters at the conference – put this into ArcGIS online using what ESRI are calling story maps.
Other talks Christopher attended included topics such as Maplex label placement and big data spatial analytics. Derek Bigwood from Ordnance Survey also gave a presentation on how we are migrating 1:50 000 scale map production from a legacy raster system into the modern-day world of vector mapping.
The week closed with a magnificent party put on by ESRI in San Diego’s Balboa Park and a Friday morning summary session by President Jack Dangermond and many of his senior management team.
The conference was a very useful platform not only to gain face-to-face advice on all things ESRI but also for us to share ideas and practices with others from across the GI industry. To have feedback from a mixture of international organisations from National Geographic to National Grid is great but also increasingly everyone is openly sharing what they have produced or learnt. This can ultimately only improve customer experience for all companies involved.