ESRI UK Annual Conference

ESRI UK Annual Conference logoGoGeo attended the ESRI UK held annual conference in London on 19th May. The event was well attended with around 2500 delegates, making it the biggest GIS event in the UK.

The morning plenary was kicked off by Stuart Bonthrone, ESRI UK’s Managing Director, who gave an overview of the current challenges facing the world and how GIS could be used to help monitor and manage these changes. Stuart was followed by a representative from the Port of Rotterdam who used the ESRI platform to integrate and manage their spatial data in order to improve efficiency in a confined area where physical expansion of the port is no longer possible. One of the Port of Rotterdam’s key requirements was for the final system to be simple to use, with users able to find the information they require within three clicks. To prove they had achieved this they invited a group of school children in to test the final software! An inspiring talk by Walking With The Wounded followed. Their next challenge is a Walk of Britain which will cover around 1000 miles over a period of 6-8 weeks, which will be assisted by mapping services from ESRI.

The final sections of the plenary were by Charles Kennelly and by the Technical Research Team lead by Sarah Lewin.  Charles gave a detailed overview of the ArcGIS platform and explained some of the future plans, including how support for ArcMap will continue ‘as long as it is needed’, it won’t simply  be turned off since the release of ArcGIS Pro earlier this year. Sarah and the team gave a great demonstration of using the 3D visualisation and analysis capabilities of ArcGIS Pro and the Javascript library in indoor tracking applications.

ESRI UK Annual Conference Higher Education Track

Photo credit: @Addy_Pope

After the plenary, GoGeo attended the Higher Education track. The track was well attended, with some talks standing room only. A couple of the talks were more technical and may have been better suited to the GISRUK audience, but on the whole they were pitched about right and were well received. More than one speaker highlighted the wish to embed GIS in undergraduate teaching, not just in Geographic disciplines but in other subject areas where GIS could be of real benefit. Given the positive pro-GIS atmosphere around the conference it was surprising hear that Newcastle University, the only University in the UK to offer an undergraduate degree in GIS, are struggling to attract students.

In the closing plenary ESRI showcased some of their interesting R&D work. It’s good to see such a major player in the GIS world not resting on their laurels and continuing to develop the technology in exciting and innovative ways.

The ESRI Annual Conference has grown and grown over the years and this year there were nine parallel tracks meaning it was sometimes difficult to decide what to attend. With this in mind it may be useful if future events are held over two days with some repetition to allow attendees to catch more sessions.

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