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November 6th, 2010
ESRI EMEA 2010 – Rome, Italy

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Esri_rome_2010The annual ESRI EMEA User Conference was held in Rome, Italy October 26-28 at the Ergife Palace Hotel. With 1500 in attendance, the event featured a wide variety of presentations connected to the new features in ArcGIS 10, user applications, demonstrations and a well attended exhibition that included many business partners who are building applications upon ESRI technology. 

Bruno Ratti, President of ESRI Italy opened the event indicating that it coincided with the 20th Anniversary of ESRI in that country.  Jack Dangermond was next to the stage, “your work is creating solutions through real knowledge,” he said. “Your work is more than a side-show, it is part of evolution,” he indicated. “Maps and GIS are at the heart of new approaches,” he stated.

GIScience evolution
Dangermond also pointed out that “GIScience is co-evolving as the tools continue to grow and geodata becomes more open.” He spoke about Geographic Knowledge and the six factors that contribute toward it’s expansion.

1) Data
2) Data Models – model classification
3) Analytic Models – describing change
4) Cartographic Knowledge – how to represent spatial information
5) Work Flows – to take different approaches
6) Metadata – who did it, sharing knowledge

“The Cloud Web is emerging through Google, Microsoft and others, and being accessed through different clients. Another approach involves Smartphones and ESRI technology is integrating enterprise information for delivery through these devices as well,” Dangermond mentioned.

Sharing and collaborationIt was interesting to hear him describe the extent to which ESRI is providing data through web services so other services can discover ESRI content readily. “Intelligent maps in ArcGIS are a focus, the map interface is allowing a new dimension of sharing knowledge and providing embedded expressions.” “ArcGIS 10 is strong on science, it has been built to connect to other programs, for example hyper-spectral imagery. The OpenRest API is supporting this sharing too.”

Bernie Szukalski of ESRI presented ArcExplorer Online and discussed the worldwide 15m imagery coverage available. In London, Prague, Brussels, Rome and Paris this imagery is available at 1m resolution. Building footprints are available for Copenhagen and Venice he said. Also available is 1:20,000 topographic basemap data across Europe and 1:5,000 for Rome itself.  ESRI partners with MicroSoft and OpenStreetMap to deliver road data. 

He also spoke about, a gateway to GIS that contains many different GIS apps that can be accessed. There are two aspects to this service – a Public or Private option. Users can repost information back into the service with their completed works, sharing them openly of restricting them. In practice this means people may decide to share openly or simply restrict information for privacy or business reasons, the choice is up to the user. The example provided to the audience included connections to different services, integrating them all on-the-fly. 

I have to say – the power of these GIS capabilities is simply awesome. The combination of ESRI presentations condensed what the company is doing effectively. I wish that I could have had all these tools when I was learning GIS, the wealth of options and opportunities that could be constructed through them is very attractive.

European Environment Agency (EEA)
European environmentChris Steenmans of the European Environment Agency (EEA) delivered a keynote that outlined how the EEA is using GIS web services to deliver geographic knowledge for the environment. “We will need to deliver on-the-fly processing of satellite data within 5 years,” he indicated. “Climate change will drive the need for real-time processing of data, and this will support more integrated assessments,” he said. 

“EEA is coordinating the delivery of in-situ data services for the European Earth Observation Programme (GMES) program.” He is not sure that tools can deliver this yet, however, the goal is to “deliver these services and data over the web.” “We will need to link local to global scales and the EEA is discovering the best approaches for working in the Cloud.” Steenmans described the current situation as representing high frequency, object oriented information as well as high frequency data based in orientation. 

Interestingly, he indicated that volunteer information will become the primary source of information in data flows – a fundamental shift – although represented today in social media and other crowdsourcing types of information gathering.

A later presentation by Jan Bliki of EEA discussed the technical elements within EEA web services. He said that that organisation has been involved in web activity for about 10 years. 

2000 — first web services (GetMap)
2005 — ArcIMS with 50 thematic themes
2009 — ArcGIS Server, maps as products, development of simple web apps

“Once a web service is set up, the creator has no control over the use of the data – people decide how they wish to engage the service, picking type, time and amount of interaction,” he said. EEA not only uses ESRI products, but is also engaged in the use of Google Maps API, Microsoft Bing API, uDig, Quantum GIS, Apple and others. 

The agency has 58 web services running and Bliki said that the cost running these has dropped over time as the technology improves and becomes easier to implement and maintain. “The goal is to make web apps simpler.” In this case that means applications for water, air quality, land use, waste and climate change. 

What’s important for operating web services?

1) Stability – 99% availability means 3.5 days down time per year; to reach 99.9% means 0.4 days per year but requires twice the cost. 

2) Scaleable Performance – normal equates to 20 requests  daily, news sites have 1.2 million requests while TV can have 20 million requests

3) Reliable – keep URLs fixed; be transparent and use Twitter, Facebook and other services as a means to communicate about web services

4) Self Explainable – include metadata; maintain naming conventions, layer names and item names

EEA automates as much as possible and uses Python open source for this purpose.

Technology on the floor
Several company’s were exhibiting products and services in the exhibition area. ITT VIS presented their new ENVI image analysis software that is reached a new point in innovation. The product is now included directly into the ArcGIS 10 Toolbox making it quickly and easily available to users performing image analysis functions within ArcGIS. This product is also available for use in ArcGIS Server and it also allows users to create work flows that use ModelBuilder.

Leica Geosystems presented the new GNSS receiver Zeno. This handheld device not only collects highly accurate GNSS location data, but features direct download to ArcGIS. The value of this capability means that separate GPS GNSS software is not needed and that results become immediately available upon download to ArcGIS. 

The Cube is an integrated transportation application that includes the Cube Base, the GIS interface upon which all apps are built upon. Cube Voyager supports forecasting in urban models and long distance passenger demands. Cube Dynasim supports multimodal transport simulation, while Cube Land supports and forecasts land use.  Cube Cargo helps cargo and commodity transport specialists to forecast movements of their services. Cube Cluster creates a parallel processing environment and Cube Analyst estimates and optimizes traffic count information. 

Several technology presentations in different streams were presented and I look forward to talking about those individually in the days ahead. 


Other topics earlier Blogged about at this event include :

ESRI EMEA 2010: The Ibadan Mega City

ESRI EMEA 2010: Thought – Is ESRI Building a Search Engine?

ENVI Moves Inside the Toolbox

ESRI EMEA 2010: “All Roads Lead to Rome”

ESRI EMEA User Conference 2010 Begins in Rome


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