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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A new term? Volunteered geographic information (VGI)? During demos at the ESRI Federal User’s Conference the term was used repeatedly to describe how anyone from GIS users to tourists could contribute location-based information in real-time to decision-makers. Do we need another term where "crowd sourced" more common in the vernacular of contributing geospatial information.

by Joe Francica on 02/17 at 08:23 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Dr. John Holdren, the science and technology advisor to President Obama and the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, provided the keynote address at the ESRI Federal User’s Conference in Washington DC. Holdren addressed the challenges facing the nation for which science plays a critical role such as in the areas of biotechnology, nano technology and "greentech." He said that President Obama’s goal was to increase the investment for research and development to greater than 3% of the gross domestic product and wants to double those R&D budgets for the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and the National Institute for Standards and Technology. Holdren also discussed the $4.4 Billion "Race to the Top" initiative, part of the ARRA stimulus money that is to fund innovation in education and puts a priority on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Finally, Holdren focused on the benefits of GIS to the national economic recovery efforts. Holdren, who had at one time directed the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, noted how GIS is key in visualizing the causes of global climate change and highlighted NOAA’s Carbon Tracker where the volume of carbon coming out or going into the ground are mapped.

Holdren’s rapid fire presentation was at times difficult to follow as he rattled off the list of Mr. Obama’s science initiatives.

by Joe Francica on 02/17 at 08:11 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

At the ESRI Federal User’s Conference this week in Washington DC, Jack Dangermond presented Tim Trainor, chief of the geography division of the U.S. Census bureau with a special award for excellence in government technology.

And in a bit of humor, Trainor beseeched the audience to "fill out your Census forms" which he said should be coming in about one month.


by Joe Francica on 02/17 at 07:37 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Here are the top 10 features of ArcGIS 10 as described by ESRI

  • Tables and windows can hide; the user can pin a window open; as windows appear or hide the map does not redraw; and some common operations have been tagged to a single pull down menu
  • List layers by visibility: zooming into map allows different features to appear and the legend updates accordingly; the SELECT BY LASSO tool will add layer views to the table of contents.
  • Tables: the user can dock tables anywhere on the map view; collapsing the table will display a tab at the bottom of map view
  • Enhanced reporting allowing users to use selected features only and creating a report
  • New search tool box (looks similar to search column on Microsoft products) in a right column area; search results may be from projects or files on your computer or on the web
  • Symbology search: search through 20,000 symbols that are available or use the search box for symbols such as a "red push pin"
  • Inclusion of catalog window into ArcMap
  • Tool Tips for Geoprocessing and ModelBuilder: tool tips have been enabled so the user can see input and output features without accessing the ModelBulder tool individually; Also new is an "undo" or "redo" button; and, the user can include tools and models in the toolbar and dock these tools on the toolbar;
  • Layers can be "time enabled" to isolate a field that has a time stamp so that the user can step though a layer of features by time; a slider bar is used to incrementally step though the time layer
  • License check out is now available so the user does not need to be connected to the server
by Joe Francica on 02/17 at 12:20 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

In what could be called ESRI’s vision for going "Back to the Future" Jack Dangermond delivered both a typical philosophical address on GIS and a roadmap for new software solution enhancements for ArcGIS 10 that includes cloud computing, community sourced collaboration and advanced search. His comments on the next generation of products were delivered at the annual ESRI Federal User’s Conference in Washington DC.

Why "Back to the Future?" Because Dangermond’s direction for ESRI products includes elements of past vision and Web 2.0 plus the call to make things "easier to use." In fact, it might have been more appropriate to identify ArcGIS 10 (formerly ArcGIS 9.4) as ArcGIS 2.0.

Dangermond’s vision has been clearly influenced by Gov 2.0 initiatives and the likes of Vivek Kundra (Obama’s Federal CIO) and Tim O’Reilly (publisher and futurist)... or perhaps it’s the other way around. You see, Dangermond has the ability to deliver on vision; not just prognosticate. Hence, ArcGIS 10 will be "cloud ready by supporting Amazon cloud services, and embed an advanced search feature capable of reaching down for files locally or on the web.

"GIS is changing; more web focused; easier, more pervasive. A new vision for GIS is emerging; this is an easier GIS; more accessible and more inclusive of everybody; it uses cloud computing and data sharing… It is empowering you, the professional, and putting in your hands the ability to spread that knowledge to others. Agencies are on a path and delivering their data as services; map services; data services; that are RESTFUL; and new app stores that are geospatially focused," said Dangermond.

Dangermond addressed the concept of "government as a platform" to support business and other services sectors; an idea that is pervasive in the Obama administration. And in discussing some of the features of ArcGIS 10 Dangermond said, "we integrated features in our base software with new ways to access cloud computing…It’s the same but also different: Full 3d GIS; 3d analytics; it’s time aware; it has an integrated search tool [so the user can] search for apps or services to drag into applications. It’s cloud ready and supports IBM"s notion of enterprise clouds."

So, ArcGIS 10 becomes an extension of Dangermond’s intent to make geography the basic contextual discipline for organizing global phenomena and data. It’s something that he’s believed in doing for many years and continues to hammer home to users.

by Joe Francica on 02/17 at 11:30 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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