Following last night’s Welcome Drinks (definitely a fun and festive start to the conference!), the more serious part of Ozri 2011 kicked off this morning with an opening address from our fearless leader, Esri Australia’s Managing Director Brett Bundock.
This is the 16th Ozri that Brett has attended – an impressive feat by any standard – and it was good to see him once again at the helm of the plenary!
It’s been roughly 18 months since our last Ozri (who could forget last year’s APAC on the Gold Coast!) and lots has happened over that time… especially for Australia’s spatial industry.
Brett’s speech encompassed some of the developments we’ve seen over the past year and a half – and started off discussing a project that has significantly changed the way GIS is used in the area of emergency services: the Brisbane City Council (BCC) Flood Map.
Back in January 2011 during the early hours of the crisis – as authorities started to realise the scale of the unfolding disaster – GIS emerged as a lifeline.
Brett told the story of how the BCC Flood Map came to be… How members of our Brisbane office – supported by our colleagues from Esri in the States – connected with our friends at Brisbane City Council…. to literally work around the clock to build an online mapping application that plotted the predictive path of the water.
Brett said that while Flood Map was developed using tried and trusted practices – the choice to bring together multiple, motivated stakeholders – for the sole purpose of protecting life, property and livelihoods – delivered something both extraordinary and unexpected.
The speed at which Flood Map was developed, released and scaled was extraordinary (from concept to delivery, the original project took approximately 12 hours) – and stands today as a reminder of the dedication shown by the GIS professionals who worked so hard to support a city in crisis.
And what emerged from the exercise as an unexpected lesson – is how critical this type of online communications tool is in disseminating accurate, potentially lifesaving updates to a culturally diverse and geographically dispersed audience.
It was a good introduction to an area that will be covered by Ozri’s opening keynote speaker later this morning – Major General Dick Wilson, the chief of the QRA. The QRA built on principals learned through Flood Map to creative their own online app – but we will hear more on that later!
Another interesting point Brett touched on is ArcGIS Online – and its rapid expansion.
For those unfamiliar with Esri’s latest focus – ArcGIS Online bridges the gap between simple online maps and sophisticated geographic information systems, introducing intelligent web maps to the masses. Brett said that in expanding ArcGIS Online – Jack Dangermond and his team aim to do what no online mapping application has been capable of achieving – and that is to provide every household; every student; and every business owner with a conduit to GIS and GIS professionals from across the globe.
Very exciting stuff that I know we’ll be hearing more about from Esri’s Senior Product Manager for ArcGIS, Damian Spangrud, later in the conference.
Finally, Brett left us with a sneak peek of what’s to come… a new program that will be launched by Esri Australia in the coming months that is aimed at helping you optimise your software investments. He didn’t disclose too much… but what he did say is the program will draw on an existing program model and is the product of lots of market research, client consultation and current user feedback.
When we find out more, you’ll be the first to know!
Anyway, enough from me! What are your thoughts on the plenary so far?
– Alicia S.