ESRI FedUC: I Was There
Adena flushed me out. Ok, I admit it. I attended the ESRI Federal User Conference. But only for the Tuesday and Wednesday morning sessions. Some of you probably saw me. I was the guy who had "Celebrity Blogger" on his nametag. These are just some quick notes that I jotted down. The theme was "GIS For The Nation." There really wasn't much there that wasn't at last year's International Users Conference. The only new things I saw were the demonstration of the ArcGIS Explorer and ArcWeb Explorer and the improvements made to 9.2 desktop. Ed Parsons and Ordinance Survey will find this flattering; Jack Dangermond, owner of ESRI, noted that he had just visited OS and that they have a wonderfully working national GIS. Jack kept noting at the plenary, and in the executive session, that OS has a national database of over 150 million/billion attributes/entries. I kept noting to my colleagues who I was with, "they make over 5000 edits a day." (That was from listening to the BBC podcast ShopTalk.) Everyone seemed to roll their eyes at me. Hey, I tried. I was with management. Former Senator Bob Kerry, president of the New School in New York City, did have some interesting things to say. One was that "they'll stop using Google Maps for their visualization research projects and definitely use ESRI products." This sounded like a paid advertisement. Although he did talk to the crowd of federal employees about the efficiencies of GIS and the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina. Where coordinated efforts could have save over $12 million if we coordinated search efforts, producing the same information, and had just collaborated more. So, in the executive session, the focus was on service orientated architectures and that GIS is a core IT technology in government. Jack and others discussed the need to incorporate spatially-enabled IT infrastructure into government since more and more information and services are becoming locationally-aware. My friend asked the question, "How do we get our IT staffs involved?" And the answer was "you have to try." I could go on and on about how some government IT staffs are not really involved with their GIS shops, but I won't. My take on this edition of the FedUC was that government needs to look at application ready data via web services. Also, that government needs to integrate GIS technology into the core of their IT infrastructure if we are to make better decisions for the citizens we are accountable to.