ESRI User Conference 2009 Report
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ESRI User Conference 2009 Report

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Industry News
ESRI User Conference 2009 Report

By Susan Smith

The ESRI User Conference 2009 held in San Diego last week drew a large crowd of attendees, down possibly 2-3,000 from previous years (Those figures were not in at press time). Nonetheless, attendees filled the Plenary Session on Monday, leaving few seats empty.

By GeoDesign

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Jack Dangermond
Each year the ESRI message evolves, grows more towards an all encompassing whole. This year’s theme “Designing Our Future,” speaks to the truth that we are all designers, in Jack Dangermond’s words, of Software, Systems, and Geography.

Designers create for a purpose and geography is the science of the world, design being about purpose and seeing the future. GIS integrates these two worlds.

GeoDesign considers all geographic questions:

Dangermond said that we are now bringing science into the way we come about making decisions. Maps and GIS are changing, becoming richer and smarter, with new media opportunities such as mashups and user generated content extending geographic knowledge pervasively.

Those issues influencing mapping and GIS today include faster computers, bandwidth, storage, mobile, cloud resources, which are increasingly integrated with the web. GIS servers power enterprise and web applications.

The web is a powerful platform for GIS, and more authoritative data is being built such as high quality maps, visualizations, spatial analysis and models plus applications.


The center point of all this computing power is the geodatabase, according to Dangermond, a comprehensive information model that “encompasses any type of data and enables it to be stored in a scalable way, shapefiles, etc.”

In ArcGIS 9.3.1 features were talked about, such as the dynamic map service which has subsecond refresh rates of serving out data, rendering the results and passing it back to the original application. ArcGIS Server is behind the faster, cached map service.

Those rich internet applications (RIAs) are going to be free for educational non-commercial users as part of ArcGIS Server – JavaScript, Flex API and Silverlight, which enable users to access different servers and services.

Content is a key component of ArcGIS, and ESRI spends “millions” on content that goes in the box with ArcGIS. More content for ArcGIS Desktop 9.3.1 users is being made available such as Bing Maps, World Street Maps, World Imagery Maps. Content can be mashed up with the maps. All this content is free to Desktop 9.3.1 users and more is being added all the time.

“Think of it like cloud resources available for ingestion into your Desktop or Server environment, which means ArcGIS Server in the Cloud,” said Dangermond.

ArcGIS Explorer

According to Bernie Szukalski, another way to access this information is through ArcGIS Explorer – a free, easy, geovisualization tool, which will have a new version out in a couple of weeks.

In the new release, users can use Bing maps in the background as basemaps that can be accessed from the Explorer basemap gallery. Users can also add their own base maps. The product has a new integrated 2D and 3D display. Explorer supports all projection and transformations as ArcGIS Desktop. Users can see populations of the world (if you should choose a world base map) extruded. It is designed to work with GIS.

Support for layer packages is new in this release. Users can share layer packages, the same as in Desktop. ArcGIS Explorer is customizable without programming. Szukalski said that ArcGIS Server in this case does the “heavy lifting” and returns the result.

Live ArcGIS Explorer can look on the surface like a PowerPoint, yet users can access live data such as live webcams to look at traffic conditions and live previews.

ArcGIS creates layer packages which are easily created, have multiple dissemination methods, are directly usable. Users can choose who to share with, can share in free online storage site.

ArcGIS Online is a collaboration tool designed to easily find, share and create content. “Sort of like Flickr…a GeoFlickr.”

ArcGIS Application Templates will be contained in resource centers. Users will be able to download content to these templates and configure them for their organizations. “When you download it you’ll get a sample from geodatabase, an application, tax parcel viewer, a sample html page, and a “get started guide,” said Clint Brown.

New is the Tax Parcel Viewer, a web application that provides text maps and property information. It comes with two base maps, a public access map and secondly a tax map. It’s configured so it can be shared with others. Also the Tax Parcel Editing template for ArcGIS Desktop has the same editing database, and toolbar and custom editing tools.

“We also publish templates for water and public safety user community. Templates are not meant to be the whole solution but they will get you going,” said Brown.

ESRI template based solution products include ArcLogistics, Business Analyst, and MapIt, a simple database mapping product (jointly developed by ESRI and Microsoft).

MapIt is apparently “not a GIS product,” but it uses an SQL Server spatial extension, integrates with SharePoint and works with Silverlight.

ArcGIS 9.4 Technical Vision

Scott Morehouse provided a description of what comes next in ArcGIS innovation: the next big step – dramatic improvement in usability, performance and functionality.

This release make GIS a lot easier and also extends the reach and impact of users’ work.

Features in ArcGIS Desktop 9.4:

Countdown of the first 9 innovations with ArcGIS 9.4:
9. Dockable windows that automatically hide, leave more real estate on screen for your map, and the map doesn’t have to redraw every time. New catalog window can be docked or hidden.
8. Attribute tables now displayed in a dockable window that hides, can open multiple tables.
7. New search tool that allows you to go in and find data you need using keywords. Also can use to search for geoprocessing tools and analysis.
6. Reporting –select 44 locations to make a report, select fields you want, predefined templates, you can save report and reexecute with a different selected set.
5. Geoprocessing and Model Builder – Use GIS for search and rescue, they can use geoprocessing models to find out where they have gone, Model Builder has a popup for each tool without having to open the tool. The Auto tool can reverse action. Enhanced customization capability so you have access to all the tools. New geoprocessing allows you to enable background processing so you can continue to work.
4. New layers tab is like a smart legend that will only show you the symbology of the legend. You can turn off and on layers and imagery, and it complements a traditional table of contents.
3. Ability to change symbols by doing a search. Far more efficient to search for symbols than browsing thru 20,000 symbols.
2. Time – it is easier to make temporal maps with GIS.
1. Fast basemaps – how ArcMap displays the map. Create new basemap layer, select every layer that you want to participate in in this basemap layer. A continuous redraw results as you pan the map.

Editing becomes easier in ArcMap 9.4 where you can create features by picking a symbol from a list to draw on a map. The same templates created in Desktop can be used in ArcGIS Server, and information can be gathered from the Web. Web editing supports the idea of web collaboration, including systematic inventory, crowd sourcing, citizen/government interaction, collaborative design, and user generated content.

9.4 offers improved spatial analysis, advanced map automation, new network optimization and analysis tools and location/allocation modeling. The 9.4 release makes ArcGIS a complete 3D GIS, which offers a powerful visualization environment for virtual cities, analytical operations and the integration of real time video.

ArcGIS Server

In ArcGIS Server, the following features are introduced:

In 9.4 ESRI provides an open API to the geodatabase, and the geodatabase becomes an open data format.

GIS in Education

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GIS in Education Award Winners

Each year, ESRI rewards a school for their work in some area of GIS. Thanks to ESRI educational guru, Charlie Fitzpatrick, thousands of schools now weave GIS into their curriculum. Joppatowne High School, Harford County Public Schools, Maryland, won the award this year. Educators who would like to help are encouraged to become “GeoMentors, ” part of a joint effort between ESRI and the National Geographic Society.

Coursework for Joppatown students included GIS, application based training, advanced tools such as surface analysis and routing analysis. They used these tools to solve the problem of elementary schools in their county being over capacity. The Board of Education needed to decided to build a school in either of two locations. Based on the Joppatown students’ analysis, a site was selected. Winners included: teacher: Jacqueline Smith, Geomentor: Eric Cromwell,
student: Joey Hightower, and student: Matt Kelly.

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Hernando De Soto

Hernando De Soto, Peruvian economist, gave a moving commentary on “Mapping the Invisible,” based on his idea of building cadastral systems in the developing world. He has written a book entitled The Mystery of Capital, which holds to the premise that countries that don’t have land cadastre are poor.

“We are trying to help countries participate in the global economy, and the starting point is property,” claimed De Soto. Two-thirds of the world doesn’t have property law.

De Soto gave the example of Egypt, where the vast majority of real estate is outside the legal market. 92 percent of the population holds its real estate assets extralegally. The value of extralegal assets in Egypt exceeds US$248 billion which is 50 times greater than all foreign direct investors and 50 times greater than all the foreign aid ever poured into Egypt. The majority of assets are already there but are not liquid. “The solution is to make this dead capital live capital, that paper needs to correspond to the asset. If things are not on the record, what do you have to do to get on the record? When I went to Indonesia they said since we don’t realize we have these shadowy assets, what’s the starting point – how do you get something like this across to politicians?” In some countries it takes 17 years to get property ownership on the record.

“When I was walking around in Bali, I always knew I was changing owners because a different dog barked,” said De Soto. “How do you go from informal indexes to formal indexes?”

Thomas Jefferson understood that property is a revolution. De Soto claimed that developing countries should be a big market for us. Land records are one layer of geographic knowledge, and countries who are accountable to the people who own properties have better environments and are sustained from one generation to another.

What incentivizes a politician to make the change? According to De Soto, “the map is more than technology but it’s the beginning to the solution of most of the problems they have today.”

Top News of the Week

LizardTech, a division of Celartem, Inc. and a provider of software solutions for managing and distributing digital content, announced the release of its latest product called LizardTech LiDAR Compressor at the 2009 ESRI International User Conference in San Diego. This brand new product enables users to turn giant point cloud data into efficient MrSID files that retain 100 percent of the raw data at just 25 percent of the file size. Unlike raw LAS or ASCII data, LiDAR files compressed to MrSID are easily managed resources from which derivatives can be extracted over and over again.

Ricoh America’s Corporation, a provider of digital office equipment and business solution cameras, announced at the ESRI User Conference in San Diego the release of major hardware and firmware enhancements to its 500SE GPS-ready camera.

To provide the best solution for GIS workflows that require quality images, Ricoh has announced the new SE-2 GPS module line for the 500SE to provide superior GPS reception, capabilities and accuracy. The SE-2 modules, designed by EKA Technologies, Inc, incorporates state-of-the-are GPS components into a small, power-efficient, and ruggedized housing that attaches to the side of the 500SE, providing an all-in-one geo-imaging solution.

IceWEB, Inc. through its wholly owned subsidiary InLINE Corporation, announced that it will release its IPLICITY 2.0 Enterprise Platform (IEP), a truly revolutionary product, destined to differentiate IceWEB from its competition in the unified storage architecture marketplace. Additionally, the Company features its newly designed InLINE MLP III (Mobile Lightweight Portable) product with 32TB of on-the-fly storage.

Acquisitions, Agreements, Alliances

ITT Corporation, the developers of ENVI image processing and analysis software, and ESRI announced a strategic partnership to integrate their respective software technologies. This integration delivers advanced, high-performance image processing and analysis capabilities to the ArcGIS platform and expands the distribution of these new technologies globally.

Microsoft Corp. and ESRI launched Fusion Core Solution, a public safety and homeland security solution architecture, at the ESRI International User Conference in San Diego. Formerly referred to as FusionX, Fusion Core Solution was designed by the two industry leaders to help public safety and homeland security professionals more effectively prevent today's evolving physical and virtual security threats. In addition, the solution strengthens the ability of government agencies to prepare, assess, and respond to natural disasters.

Dewberry and James W. Sewall Company have formed a partnership to offer expanded services to their clients in government and industry. Under the teaming arrangement, Dewberry is integrating its broad GIS and mapping technology capabilities with Sewall’s expertise in renewable energy, forestry, and natural resources consulting.


Tele Atlas, a leading global provider of digital maps and dynamic content for navigation and location based solutions, announced that Tele Atlas digital map data will be added to the upcoming version of ESRI StreetMap Premium. The enhanced street database works with ESRI’s ArcGIS software to provide geocoding, routing and high quality map display.

Dates for the Ninth Annual Cityworks User Conference were announced by Azteca Systems, Inc., the provider of GIS-centric management solutions. The event will be held Monday, May 17 – Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at the Dixie Conference Center in the beautiful city of St. George, Utah. Cityworks pre-conference training is available to new and existing users as well as specialized implementation training for Cityworks business partners on Friday, May 13 and Saturday, May 14 at the Hilton Garden Inn in St. George, Utah, adjacent to the Dixie Conference Center.

The newly established GeoMentor program was jointly announced by ESRI and the National Geographic Society (NGS) on Monday, July 13, 2009, during the Plenary Session of ESRI's 29th annual International User Conference.

The program will enlist people who use geographic information to help educators and students better understand its numerous applications. These GeoMentors adopt a classroom or afterschool program, helping both the teacher and students comprehend the many ways geography and geographic information systems (GIS) can help us better understand the interrelatedness of objects and events in our world.

The Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. has issued a Request For Quotation and Call for Participation (RFQ/CFP) to solicit proposals for the NSG Profiles Plugweek Pilot, which will begin in August and end in October. (NSG is the National System for Geospatial Intelligence.) The sponsor, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), will provide profiles of the OGC Web Map Service, Web Feature Service and Web Coverage Service Interface Standards. The RFQ/CFP is available at the following website.

New Products

A new software product from ESRI MapIt combines software with services to enable businesses to create maps displaying their enterprise data. MapIt software transforms the static spreadsheet and tabular data that managers typically view into dynamic information displayed on vibrant maps.

Urban Mapping, the provider of location-rich content for interactive applications, announced advanced features for Routeserver, the company's standard-setting multi-modal routing engine that supports walk, drive, bus, train, subway and other modes of transportation. Developed with pedestrian navigation in mind, Routeserver can be ported to specific hardware and platforms, supporting true "on board" navigation. Additionally, the routing engine can be deployed for large-scale interactive publishers or as a hosted solution for rapid implementation.

Wacom’s interactive pen displays are set to revolutionize the way GIS professionals work, maximizing the recent introduction of new ArcGIS 9.4 features that will leverage the benefits of pen input technology. Wacom's pen display technology will provide ArcGIS 9.4 users with a more streamlined workflow, increased accuracy and enhanced comfort.

Aerial survey specialist Bluesky has released what is thought to be one of the very first aerial surveys of London. A series of vertical photographs, flown during 1917 following the path of River Thames, are now available online at This historically significant collection also includes images of WWI trenches and war defences and images taken while the pilot, an Army Fusilier, was stationed in Russia.

Topcon Positioning Systems (TPS) recently unveiled the IP-S2, a vehicle-mounted, mobile 3D precision mapping and survey system. The IP-S2 combines dual-frequency GNSS signal tracking and positioning and inertial measurement to integrate laser scanning and digital imaging.

Developers of desktop and Web applications can now deliver rich mapping and geographic information system (GIS) content with the release of ESRI's ArcGIS API for Microsoft Silverlight/WPF. They can combine GIS-based Web services from ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Online as well as use Bing Maps geocoding, routing, and map services.

Pictometry International Corp. exhibited its 3D modeling capabilities as well as its oblique aerial imagery technologies and ESRI integrations at the ESRI User Conference.

Pictometry’s Real 3D suite of products provides multiple levels of detail featuring top quality accuracy and high resolution clarity. Pictometry’s 3D technology is second to none with photo realistic models created from oblique imagery, saving time and money. Currently used in cities and universities across the country for GIS, visualization, community planning and disaster preparedness. These models will be displayed within ESRI software to demonstrate the collaborative power of Pictometry with ESRI.

Around the Web

Bing Delivers Credibility to Microsoft by Miguel Helft, July 13, 2009, The New York Times (registration required)




GeoWeb 2009
Date: July 27 - 31, 2009
Place: Downtown Vancouver, BC, Canada

GeoWeb conferences focus exclusively on geographic information systems, the Internet, and the economic potential associated with their convergence. GeoWeb 2009 will continue the tradition of focusing on the reciprocal impact of the Web and Geographic Information as well as the ever-increasing need for collaboration in light of global economic and environmental concerns. GeoWeb 2009 is for everyone!

2009 URISA/NENA Addressing Conference
Date: August 4 - 6, 2009
Place: Providence, RI USA

This conference has evolved from URISA's Street Smart and Address Savvy Conference (held from 1999 to 2005). In 2006 (Nashville), the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) joined URISA as a full partner in this educational program and the conference was re-named to the Geospatial Integration for Public Safety Conference.

SEASC 2009
Date: August 4 - 7, 2009
Place: Bali International Convention Center
Westin Resort, Nusa Dua, Indonesia

SEASC is a biennale event of ASEAN FLAG (ASEAN Federation of Land Surveying and Geomatics), supported by FIG (International Federation of Surveyors), and as well by some other international affiliated organizations

3rd Annual HAZUS Conference
Date: August 10 - 12, 2009
Place: Marriott Raleigh Crabtree Valley Hotel
Raleigh, NC USA

Who Should Attend:  New, Experienced, and Interested Users of HAZUS-MH; First Responders, Local Government Decision Makers, Planners and GIS Specialists.

The 17th International Conference on Geoinformatics (Geoinformatics 2009)
Date: August 12 - 14, 2009
Place: Johnson Center, George Mason University
4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22023 USA

The local organizating committee for GeoInformatics 2009 welcomes your participation in the 17th international conference on Geoinformatics for GIScience professionals. The International Conference on Geoinformatics is a well-known annual forum for Geospatial Information Science Professionals.

Pre-Bid Conference and Webinar on: Developing and Managing Road Environment GIS for SHRP 2 Naturalistic Driving Study
Date: August 12, 2009
Place: USA

SHRP 2 Safety Project S04-A: Geographic Information System (GIS) Developer/Manager for SHRP 2 Roadway Information Database Budget and Project Duration: TBD—announced 7/28
Project Manager: Charles Fay

Map Asia 2009
Date: August 18 - 20, 2009
Place: Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre

The Asia and Pacific region is the largest developing region in the world in landmass, population and aggregate income. Its 48 countries have nearly three fifth of the worlds total population. Each country in the region abounds in rich natural capital and has comprehended the true potential of Geospatial information in leveraging this capital to its utmost economic viability.