Esri Local Government User Group Meeting – August 2010

Last Friday (13th August), Jeremie Comarmond of Esri Australia and Susie Kempson of Melbourne City Council hosted the Esri LG meeting at the council offices of the City of Melbourne. There was a pretty large crew there, representing LGA’s from not only metro Melbourne, but also around the state.

The four main themes discussed were

–          3D

–          Data and Data Capture – 3D Point Clouds

–          GIS Applications, ArcGIS and Dekho

–          Base maps from MDS and Esri


Councils are using 3D in really compelling ways, to show the route of the 2010 UCI cycling event in Geelong and how that will affect local businesses, to enabling planners and architects to get a common understanding of how the built environment can be visualised. A real challenge is taking the architectural 3D models  and condensing them sufficiently so that they can be rendered with 3D model of the existing built structure.

Pictometry of Melbourne CBD


Another challenge for Councils and all practitioners that work in the 3D space is how they need to use many different applications to get the end result. Callum McClure from AAM indicated that they too are faced with this challenge in working with getting the desired output from their 3D models.

Esri, and with ArcGIS 10 has been working on improving the 3D capability with the 3D Analyst extension. I indicated that the team in Redlands has grown its product development team by about 1000% since I first worked in Redlands in 2003.

Visualizations and Analysis in ArcGIS Desktops ArcGlobe

A good mate of mine, Nathan Shephard (Aussie from Perth) is the 3D Program Manager in Redlands and is doing some really good work on 3D – making the transition of 2D editing and analysis to the 3D world. Check out some of the videos on youtube:

3D point Clouds – Virtual Reality comes to life

I had seen a presentation at the SSSI mini conference back in May about Lidar derived 3D Point Clouds, using a combination of Lasers, Sensors, GPS and Inertial Tracking Systems. This is really cool stuff, for you are able to take the built environment and model it, visualise it and take measurements from it. The applications to facility management which will enable you to capture facilities and the built environment are amazing. Gone (for good hopefully) are the digitizers from the GIS practioners desktop. Callum presented several scenarios how these 3D point clouds could be used, and I kept thinking about the volumes of data that would be collected. Really interesting and emerging technologies. Using this data within ArcGIS would be pretty cool – especially in enabling close to survey accurate content.

Images of 3D Point Cloud renderings, and where features have been collected to be used in your GIS

(Courtesy of AAM Group, and thanks to Callum McClure)

Dekho 3.1

Next presenter was Ayal Steiner, the Product Manager for Dekho. Ayal walked through the new capabilities of the next release of Dekho.  At 3.1, the product team has focused on;

–          Quality and Robustness

–          Usability Improvements

–          Support for ArcGIS 10 (later in the year)

Having worked on and program managed  a pretty large product like ArcMap for 6 years, I know the challenges of quality and usability. Ayal and the guys have been focusing on the feedback from our user community and honing in on the most requested improvements.

In the screen grab of Dekho 3.1 above you will also see a Basemap – this is the MDS basemap which will be included with the Dekho 3.1. If you are interested in using a base map with your own web app or ArcGIS Desktop app – check out:

Ayal also talked about the blog for Dekho – this has been running for around 6 months – plenty of content on there where the development and support teams contribute ideas and some interesting commentary, it can be found here:

ArcGIS 10 – Next step in the evolution


So I got up and talked about the concepts behind the ArcGIS 10 release, and some of the main points about ArcGIS 10 – I only had 30 minutes, and I think I talked pretty quickly. Considering that the people in the room were experienced ArcGIS desktop users, I think that this release really helps them be more productive in doing the real work that they do. I remember the intention of the original release was to be a release “for the desktop users” (back in March 2008, when 10 was still 9.4). There is so much in this release, and in a lot of ways connects so many functions together – not to mention the use of basemaps in ArcMap. Having worked on the original concept and initial development milestones, I know that the dev teams over in Redlands feel pretty good about this release.

In saying that, there is a pretty strong Aussie contingent that worked towards the ArcGIS 10 release – and as I indicated on Friday, some of the ideas and R&D projects that contributed to the 10 release started more than 5 years ago. So cheers to you, Wayne Hewitt, Nathan Shephard, Terry Brinkman, Catherine Hill, Sean Jones, Russell East and not to forget the Maptel crew that make ArcPad (Elvin, Terry, Marika, Gareth et al) here in Melbourne.

Top 10 of ArcGIS 10?

I was asked by a colleague to rattle off my top 10 – and this is it:

–          Template Editing/Feature Services (editing GDB features online)

–          Complete Map Production Workflow – Map Automation/Books/Reports

–          Web API’s (Javascript, Silverlight, Flex and Sharepoint)

–          ArcMap Productivity and Usability, integration with


–          ArcGIS Explorer Online

–          iOS – ArcGIS on the iPad and iPhone

–          3D – editing and analysis

–          Imagery Integration

–          Network functionality – Location allocation….

So check out the videos on what ArcGIS 10 is all about on Esri TV:

And check out the ArcGIS 10 online help, and what’s new (if you haven’t downloaded it yet)

And there are more Technology Directions coming to Melbourne and the other capitals:

I look forward to the next LG user group meeting. There was some really good discussions during and afterwards. Thanks again to Jeremie and Susie, other presenters, and to the participants.

– Anthony

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