Inside Scoop: Darwin’s Tech Directions

Well, the first of our February Technology Directions seminars has come and gone! Last Tuesday, our friends up in Darwin discovered how to further boost their productivity using ArcGIS 10.

James Shepherd was one of the presenters at Darwin Tech Directions – we caught up with him between plane trips to find out how it all went.

EA: So tell us James, what was the vibe at the Darwin Tech Directions?

JS: I would say the vibe was generally pretty relaxed. This time, we had the attendees seated in a more informal ‘cabaret’ style arrangement, which apparently means everyone seated at round tables (fortunately ‘cabaret’ style didn’t mean I had to wear fishnet stockings!).

EA: In your opinion, what were the top 3 take aways from Darwin?
The first key message was looking at GIS as a collaboration tool. We looked at bringing in data from the field using ArcGIS Mobile, working within a Desktop environment for analysis, but holding everything together by using Dekho as a way to provide those stakeholders who are not necessarily GIS savvy a window into the GIS world where they could actively engage with GIS data.

The second key message was that although collaboration in this way is great for expanding GIS to other communities, it requires careful thought and planning on behalf of the people setting up Dekho/web maps. You can’t just stick your entire corporate database on the web without any thought as to how that’s going to affect the speed at which the end users can view the data. There needs to be collaboration between people producing maps and data and those who are setting up and managing any web based content to ensure everything runs quickly and smoothly for the end user.

Finally, the third point was that there are a lot of great new tools associated with the extensions in 10, but you don’t need to have lots of complex and fancy data for them to provide useful results. You can do some practical analysis using some fairly simple, easily obtainable and sometimes completely free data.

EA: What was the most popular topic that attendees wanted to know about?
I think there were quite a few people who were interested in the tools Josh showed, which give the user a breakdown of draw times for each layer in a map service at the various extents and flags. The tool, called MxdPerfStat, can be downloaded from the Esri Resources Centre.

EA: What’s something new that people will learn at Tech Directions?
People will learn how to create a disconnected ArcGIS mobile project using the mobile tools in ArcEditor and ArcInfo at version 10. They will also learn some neat transformations you can do with the Data Interoperability workbench.

EA: We know you spoke a bit about Dekho… How does Dekho fit in Enterprise GIS?
Dekho allows users who aren’t necessarily GIS savvy to access GIS maps and data through a simplified interface without them needing to have additional software installed on their computers. The information delivered to users is role based so users only get the maps and data most relevant to them. Dekho can also integrate with other business systems such as financial and file management systems users to see other types of data within their geographic context.

EA: Judging from your conversations with attendees, what’s the state of the GIS industry is in Darwin?
From the people we  got to talk to following the presentation, it seems there is a bit of a spread between the large government agencies completely adopting GIS into their enterprise systems with ArcGIS Server, ArcFM and Dekho; those who are keen to start looking at the larger world of GIS offered by server; and small organisations and consultancies who have a few desktop licenses.

EA: All the other states are yet to have their Tech Directions… why would you suggest people attend?
You mean apart from the stylish and charismatic presenters? I think a good reason to attend is because our presentations are purely demo driven, based around a single scenario workflow where we demonstrate some very practical real world uses of some of the new features at ArcGIS 10. It’s also a great place to catch up with other people in the industry which is full of passionate professionals using the software in diverse and interesting ways.

EA: Great, thanks for your time James. And good luck at the rest of the Directions!

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