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July 14th, 2014
Esri/UC: GIS is Reaching Critical Mass and Empowering Us to Make a Difference

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Jack Dangermond, founder and CEO of Esri, welcomed a crowd of GIS users at the San Diego Convention Center today for the Esri International User Conference. The more than 16,000 attendees are from more than 130 countries, coming to the annual event that highlights the broad use of GIS.

To start, the major awards were given to users that have reached a new height of GIS use. The enterprise GIS award went to Royal Dutch Shell that are rapidly expanding their use of GIS within the organization. Jack Verouden talked about GIS becoming an enterprise layer within the organization, and that GIS is changing by becoming more accessible and useful within the organization. The President’s Award went to the City of Rancho Cucamonga, where GIS is mission critical for all operations across the city, including a portal for economic development, and a series of dashboards accessed via tablets.

Jack then segued into his annual address, centering on predicting the future. Jack quoted Peter Drucker, “the best way to predict the future is to create it.” He spoke of our two different worlds as an ordinary world where we respond to things around us, and our extraordinary world where we where we imagine and then create our future. We imagine a career, a family, or development, and then act on our imagination. The ordinary world, and the extraordinary world where we all create a change.

Our world is facing tremendous challenges such as population, pollution, energy, climate change, and that is affecting everything in the living world. This is not only effecting our environment, but is changing everything from infrastructure to food production. This in turn is effecting our social world with migrations and conflicts. It’s an unprecedented time, we know these stories, but we also know people are making a difference.

Geography is more important than ever. Geography provides the context and content of our world, and a framework to bring measurements together for understanding. It’s not just the physical world, it’s the ecology, the economy, the sociology, etc.

GIS is integrating geography into everything we do, and it’s changing the way that we think in organizations and also at the planetary level. It’s changing understanding and action. The GIS is evolving and becoming part of an interconnecting platform with shared community content.

Web GIS layers geography on top of the nervous system of the planet, bringing our information into use both inside our organizations and beyond. It integrates all types of information, sharing focused work through maps and web services. Maps, analytics, imagery, social media, real-time information are all being shared through web services being shared through portals.

ArcGIS Online is sharing more than 1 million maps per day. The app evolution is making all of this content available any time and anywhere on any device, bringing GIS to life in whole new ways. It’s improving how we organize and share our knowledge. We are improving our productivity by sharing layers and workflows with other GIS users, helping each other.

Geodesign — the idea of grouping geographic knowledge, design process, collaboration and planning — is about designing the landscape. Jack asserted that it is extending beyond design disciplines to encapsulate the creative side, where we all can and should become geodesigners. The technology enables it, and the problems that we are having, demand it. We can create a better future, envisioning what’s possible and embracing the challenge to create change. Jack understands that there may be some skepticism, that this is just a big idea, but he’s passionate that we can all make a difference using this technology.

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