March 10, 2003
Wide Open Spatial - GITA 26 Coverage
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Message from the Editor
Welcome to GISWeekly! This week's GISWeekly will feature coverage of GITA 26, and include the opening session, keynote, GITA 2003 Excellence Awards, educational session coverage, as well as some product announcements from the show.
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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Wide Open Spatial
GITA 26 was held this year in San Antonio, Texas, sporting the theme "Wide Open Spatial Frontiers: Adding Value to Your Business." GISWeekly was invited to write for the Conference News so some of that coverage will be included here in one form or another. GITA news may take a couple of issues to cover.
The current economy and events of the past couple of years have conspired to force many organizations to restructure their focus from technology projects to one of protecting the country's critical infrastructure and security, as well as protecting and managing assets. In response to these shifts, new topics for this year at GITA were homeland security, disaster management, and global solutions. Topics that attendees have come to expect and are always relevant were also part of the lineup such as data management, geographic information technology, legacy GIS, outage management systems, and enterprise integration systems.
Despite sobering realities, the conference was upbeat and attendees were positive about the subject matter and the new products demonstrated.
The opening session on Monday afternoon was bracketed by music, kicking off to the tune of "Wide Open Spaces" by the Dixie Chicks. GITA Executive Director Robert Samborski made introductory comments about "the cautious attitude among companies this year, yet the pursuit of geospatial technology doesn't stop." He also alluded to the fact that the seven Columbia astronauts pushed the limits of technology, yet it was significant that the crew reflected an "international pursuit of knowledge."
GITA President Karen Levy spoke about the emerging importance of information as the level of public awareness grows. "I would like 2003 to be known as the big 'I', recognizing the value and use of geospatial information," said Levy.
Conference Chair Susan Powell of Miner & Miner made reference to how companies are now putting more emphasis on the expected return on their investments and when it will be realized. "Investment in technology should fuel your investments," Powell explained. Questions of proprietary data should not prevent us from sharing data, she added, and challenged the audience to ponder "what will make you better for the future?" Ultimately, it is her hope that what is a challenge will become opportunity.
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
These brief talks were followed by the keynote address from popular Australian speaker Amanda Gore, who holds a degree in physiotherapy and psychology, and is a master practitioner of neurolinguistics.
Gore's message was certainly lively. She began by talking about how we need more energy and vitality at this stage in our lives. Because so many people are living in a heightened state of anxiety since 9/11, this message was truly meant to lighten the hearts of its recipients.
Gore had asked a friend, Peter Ford, who was reporting on 9/11, about how worried we need to be about the terrorists and he said, "We could all die by drive-by shooting before we could die of chemical warfare. Their job is to make us terrified," adding, "they're not afraid to die, and they'll make the most of their dying."
"We also should not be afraid of dying," added Gore, "but we should make the most of living."
This message prevailed throughout her talk, as she posed the question: "What did 9/11 show us was most important?" The number one thing was: families equal connection. "People who are disconnected from themselves and others die earlier from other causes. Men have more heart attacks than women," claimed Gore, with a twinkle in her eye. "We think men live their lives severed at the neck. In IT and engineering you're living above your heads. Women who work full time are beginning to get nearly as many heart attacks as men. We think it's because they're living severed at the neck."
Gore has a number of "symbols" she teaches her audience in order to communicate. Clasping your hands together reminds you that you must be connecting to your heart. The audience was asked to clasp each other's hands, move closer to others, to help each other live longer.
Gore used props such as Eeyore ears to demonstrate the "life sucks" type of personality. She used Tigger as the analogy for positive "bouncy" behavior, suggesting that people wear their Tigger ears on the way home from work, as "it's very hard to take yourself seriously while wearing them."
"In Australia no one takes themselves very seriously; if you do, someone comes along very quickly to let you know just how insignificant you really are," claimed Gore.
In America, Gore continued, "it's awesome how hard people work. You must learn to let go, loosen up." Letting go means releasing energy from stress that everyone tends to hang onto long after an event or series of events happens.
"Since everyone in America wants to be a CEO or CFO, or something beginning with C," Gore explained, "now everyone can be a CFF-Chief Fun Fairy, donning a wand in a holster, dispensing fairy dust wherever you go."
The opening reception ended with the audience singing the Monty Python song, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," swaying back and forth with smiles on their faces. Not a lot to do with GIS, but a great time was had by all.
GITA 2003 Excellence Awards
On a more serious note, the GITA 2003 Excellence Award winners were announced. Pat Drinnan, Supervisor, Facilities Mapping, Calgary, Alberta accepted the award for Aquila Networks Canada. An electric utility with a large service territory in Alberta and British Columbia, Aquila Networks Canada serves over 500,000 customers with over 110,000 kilometers of distribution and transmission lines.
The decision to model every distribution and transmission facility in their entire electrical system launched the company's AM/FM project in 1985. Aquila has one database containing electrical facility data and information. The AM/FM system is one of the company's three mission-critical systems, right up there with ERP and CIS. In 1995, The company went mobile, with the advent of a system that sent intelligent attribute information directly back to their AM/FM master model from the field.
Steven L. De Merritt, P. E., GIS Services supervisor; Larry T. Borgard, vice president distribution and customer service; and Michael W. Cerkas, M.S. production supervisor, GIS Services Group, accepted the award for Wisconsin Public Service Corporation of Green Bay, Wisc.
Service Corporation can boast that every application in the original IFM and the EAGLE-GIS project plan were completed within budget and on schedule.
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-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.
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