IBM at ESRI's User Conference - the worldest largest gathering of GIS professionals
Ron Wallace 270000FUHA RON.WALLACE@US.IBM.COM | | Tags:  management tivoli asset asset-management maximo eam
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I spent the third week in July in San Diego at ESRI International User Conference with over 12,000 others in the GIS community. This is my 6th User Conference (or just “UC” as the insiders call it) and I continue to find the event an inspirational and total unique experience. Everything about the UC is big with over 750 breakout sessions, Special Interest Group (SIGs) meetings, the MAP Gallery with displays of GIS in action – there are hundreds of vendors showing their latest offerings in the Exhibit Pavilion, plus an ESRI Showcase that included special areas for Defense, Public Safety and Federal agencies. All the IBMers wore matching Hawaiian shirts – fitting in the warm San Diego climate and making us easy to spot. Our exhibit featured Maximo Spatial, Cognos and other information systems offerings.
My time at the conference started on Saturday with a pre-conference special interest group meeting for Water and Wastewater where I gave a presentation titled “What is IBM’s Smarter Planet Strategy for Water?” which overviewed IBM's Advance Water Management Strategy as well as an update on IBM Maximo Spatial Asset Management with ArcGIS Server 9.3.
For me, one of the highlights of the UC is the Monday Plenary Sessions hosted by Jack Dangermond, the president of ESRI who truly believes that GIS can change the world. He spoke to us about how we can “design our future with GIS”. During the morning Jack and the ESRI team shared customer success stories and showed many innovative ways that GIS is being used throughtout the world today. They also demonstrated the latest features, many bringing applause from the audience.
It was the afternoon session that was truly inspirational. Keynotes speakers Hernando de Soto and Dr. Willie Smits held everyone’s attention with their unique personal stories. Hernando de Soto, a Peruvian economist and author of "The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else" provided attendees with a fantastic dissertation on free market capitalism which begins and ends with the distribution and recording of land records.
The other keynote was Dr. Willie Smits, a Dutch biologist and founder of the Borneo Orangutan Survival organization that took on the deforestation of Borneo. His initial work centered on preserving Orangutan habitat and soon employed GIS to understand why the habitat was disappearing. Using data from GIS and earth satellites he was able to show the benefits for changing to crops that were “carbon positive” and didn’t require the burning of the forest and loss of habitat for the Organgutan populations.
And, there was high school teacher from Maryland who mentored several students in a GIS project to select the site for a new school based on expected population growth. The students presented their findings to the town council and earned their Spatial Technology and Remote Sensing certification.. This certification is recognized by NASA and the U.S. Department of Labor.
These are not standard fare for “software user conferences”, however a welcome change and very inspirational to all.
On Wednesday I attended the SIG for Transportation and learned about ESRI’s plans for the use of Straight Line Diagrams with linear assets such as railways and roadways. I gave a brief presentation on Asset Management in Transportation. Of course, there was plenty of time to attend breakouts sessions, SIG meetings, meet with other attendees and ESRI team. Visitors to the IBM exhibit kept us all busy.
By Thursday, after spending seven days in San Diego all the IBMers went to Old Town for some Mexican food. It was a great way to end the week.