Esri FedGIS Conference Update

The Esri® Federal GIS Conference, or EsriFed, offered another excellent venue to learn about emerging Esri software, network, and catch up with old friends. With an estimated attendance of more than4,000, the standing-room-only plenary presentation did not disappoint.

President of Esri, Jack Dangermond guided the audience through his ever-maturing vision of GIS. As technology acceleration continues to push the boundaries of geospatial IT globally, Jack’s emphasis on the ‘smartness’ of our systems continues to rely on his concept of a Community GIS comprised of systems of record, engagement, and insight. I could not stop thinking about the first part of Charles Stross’ 2005 novel Accelerando during the presentation.

New News

A Community GIS represents a system of systems, abstracting data and exposing spatial data and functionality. It helps make sense of the massive content inundating us as private citizens, public servants, academics, and business professionals. It also creates a nervous system for our planet.

A concise review of the innovations at the ArcGIS 10.5 release provided a nice review of what’s new:

  • Better basemaps, imagery, and demographic data provided by the Living Atlas with one billion maps being made daily

  • Improved data management and editing

  • Enhanced field mobility from Collector for ArcGIS, Navigator for ArcGIS, Workforce for ArcGIS, and Survey123 for ArcGIS

  • Enriched bathymetry data, virtual reality support, and 3-D point cloud support

  • Expanded spatial analysis tools and techniques for both raster and vector data, including R integration, big data analytics, and parallelized analytics

  • Considerable investment in Insights for fast, powerful data discovery and analysis via linked maps, tables, and charts

  • Enhanced scripting tools support for Python scripting, Qt, Xamarin, Swift, and Objective-C

Lasting Takeaways

A review of Esri’s recent enterprise platform product consolidation followed.  The new ArcGIS Enterprise represented ArcGIS Server, ArcGIS Image Server, ArcGIS GeoEvent Server, and ArcGIS GeoAnalytics Server functioning in concert with each other using Portal for ArcGIS as the gateway.

The key concept of Portal for ArcGIS allows enterprises to abstract and organize spatial data into web maps, layers, and scenes via REST, which was strongly emphasized.  This complemented the Community GIS pattern as a network of portals replicating the spatial data holdings of many organizations working within a distributed GIS ecosystem, offering redundancy, resiliency, and stability.