Opening Session Audience Gets 'Switched On'
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Opening Session Audience Gets 'Switched On'

By Susan Smith
Editor, GISCafé and GISWeekly

GITA 28's Opening Session kicked off with a message from Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, who was an exploration geologist before becoming mayor. He noted that geospatial technology companies have converged on Colorado's Front Range and play a significant role in the region's economy.

Hickenlooper said, "We're excited about harnessing every aspect of geospatial technology. The U.S. Department of Labor has identified the geospatial industry as one of the fastest-growing sectors of employment in the United States."

Bob Samborski, executive director of GITA, gave an update on recent projects: the ROI research project is near completion, the critical infrastructure protection project has spawned strong relationships with many federal agencies, and the Geospatially Enabling Community Collaboration (GECCo) program has received funding for a pilot in the state of Hawaii.

Samborski dedicated the conference to Henry A. Emery, one of the founders of GITA, who made tremendous contributions to the organization and the industry. Emery passed away at end of January.

The Lifetime Achievement Award Winner for this year is Sakura Shinoaki of Otsuma Women's University, Tokyo, Japan. Shinoaki founded ROADIC in Japan and was responsible for the first successful implementation of GIS in Japan.

J. Peter Gomez, president of GITA, from Xcel Energy, spoke about GITA's three-year strategic plan to become the leading geospatial resource. In its second year of that plan, the association is well on its way to meeting that goal.

Volunteerism is at the heart of GITA. This year, the Distinguished Service Award was awarded to Keith McDaniel, whose accomplishments include serving on the association's Board of Directors, chairing the Executive Management Symposium, the Education Committee, the Strategic Planning Committee, and serving as a member of the Honorary Past Presidents' Advisory Council.

The Excellence Award recognizes companies that are leaders in geospatial technology. This year the award was given to Enmax Power Corporation of Calgary, Alberta. The company created an enterprise GIS that enhances operational efficiency by providing safe, reliable power to customers. Brad Lawrence, supervisor, records, survey and land management, accepted the award.

GITA Innovator Awards were bestowed upon Jones-Onslow Electric Membership Corporation, Jacksonville, N.C., for the development of their own GIS over the last 10 years. The system is a seamless consumer information system, financial management, and mapping facilities system. The award was received by Tommy Pritchard, chief utility engineering officer.

The second Innovator Award went to MassGIS, of Boston, Mass., one of earliest adopters of interoperability, who developed the MassGIS OpenGIS-based Web Mapping Services, providing always-on access to all the data contained in the MassGIS data repository via WFS, Gazeteer, and Geocoder interfaces. The award was accepted by Christian Jacqz, director of MassGIS.

This year's conference chair, Vince Rosales of Idea Integration, surprised the audience by arriving onstage with his lime-green guitar. Rosales spoke about the convergence of GIS and IT, how they continue to cross boundaries, and how this year's events are topic-based.

Keynote speaker Chip Eichelberger has spent 21 years in sales, including six years of training with best-selling author Tony Robbins.

His focus is on getting people "switched on." "Successful people believe that anything worth doing is worth doing poorly-it's very necessary to do something poorly until you can do it well," Eichelberger pointed out. "There is trial and error. Frustration is good.

Out of great frustration come breakthroughs." It is also a good idea to go through life being fascinated, he said, but some people go through life disassociated.

Eichelberger asked the audience "what is the first symptom of heart disease? Sudden death. What comes before that? A lifetime of little errors in judgment; financial, health, fitness, relationships-making the same errors in judgment."

"If you don't change the direction you're going you will wind up where you're headed," quipped Eichelberger, who seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of funny adages and one-liners. Laughter filled the room as Eichelberger asked his questions and challenged attendees to give each other a two-second massage.

Referring to the book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't, Eichelberger said that there is a big difference between good and great. You're the only one in the world who knows whether you're living a good life or a great one.

He talked about "raising the bar" for himself and everyone in the room. Expectations define everything, he noted, saying, "My goal is for you to make one good decision today. You came here for a reason."

Lack of discipline can affect all areas of your life, and creating a new discipline in one area can improve other areas of your life. Those who complain about having a bad day affect everyone around them, and he termed them "thermometers." Being a "thermostat" is preferable because they "control the climate."

"Your quality of life directly relates to the quality of the questions you ask yourself," said Eichelberger, adding "why me" is not a quality question. "People will want to talk to you if you are 'switched on,' " he concluded.