Five Technology Takeaways from Esri FedGIS

While reflecting on my three-day experience during the Esri® Federal GIS Conference, I can emphatically say that I work in an exciting industry! Below are five major event takeaways that I would like to share.

1. Big Data solutions are a necessity. The huge amount of collected data require new software tools to aggregate and find patterns in the noise. Esri has been providing and demonstrating its open source tools for Hadoop, which help users perform spatial analysis of big data. At the conference, Esri announced a new product called Insights for ArcGIS. Insights can perform analysis of data from a variety of sources like geodatabases, organizational databases, and CSV files.

2. Open Data continues to flourish. Corporations, cities, states, and countries continue to open more geospatial datasets for private and public consumption. ArcGIS Open Data currently hosts close to 40,000 open datasets from about 3,000 different organizations. The Census Bureau recently created an open source JavaScript-based tool called CItySDK, which allows developers to integrate open datasets from a variety of governmental sources.

3. Realize that 3-D tools are already in widespread use. Although 3-D mapping technologies may sound new, many organizations have leveraged 3-D in sectors like defense, urban planning, and tourism. The 3-D toolset will be part of ArcGIS products going forward, including ArcGIS Pro and Server. The ArcGIS JavaScript API Version 4.0 will support 3D in the browser.

4. Story Maps combine narratives and maps into one medium. Esri provides tools and templates to create web-based interactive maps with graphics and captions. Story maps can take the form of a user controlled dashboard, a sequential narrative, or a gallery of choices. Story maps can summarize the results of geospatial analysis and communicate the results, by using a compelling presentation to inform a broader audience.

5. Understanding the power of Esri’s wide array of tools is crucial. Esri has provided us with sophisticated software tools, the Web App Builder, App Studio, open source examples, and customization capabilities. The continual challenge, which is not unique to the GIS community, is to effectively leverage these tools to solve clients’ diverse problems. As software developers, we need to utilize the tools and templates Esri already provides--rather than repeatedly trying to reinvent the wheel. Maximizing the use of Esri’s game-changing tools - and customizing when appropriate - will provide the most value to our customers.