How I learned to stop worrying and love the web map

Having been back from the UC for 3 weeks now, I’ve had a chance to process all the new information I learned. As you’ve no doubt heard by now, the main theme was progressing GIS from the GIS professional’s desktop into the hands and eyes of your co-workers, executives and the public.

ArcGIS Online was the headline act, but the real star of the show was the underlying web map. These web maps can be hosted on ArcGIS Online either on the web or on premises, and their real utility comes from how they can be consumed. Any ArcGIS product – Online, for Office, Desktop, Server, Mobile, iOS, Android, and the just-unveiled Viewer applications – can use your web maps as a backdrop and base for visualisation and analysis. This level of integration really changes the way GIS professionals operate and engage with their audience.

Other themes of particular interest to me were the expansion of 3D capabilities and Esri’s developing focus on Big Data. You’ve read about both of these on this blog already, but it’s clear to me that these themes are really going to explode in the coming year or two, and they link hand in hand. As technologies like EarthMine and LiDAR become more prevalent, and as more and more “non-traditional” industries – the kind with access to huge amounts of data like telcos, banks and online businesses – utilise GIS, the idea of the Census SA1s being a “big dataset” will seem quaint. To borrow a hockey phrase, Esri is moving to where the puck is headed, and this is good to see.

All of this is on my mind as I’m in the depths of Ozri preparation, of course. These themes will feature at Ozri, naturally, but it’s important to remember that the GIS professional is central to all of these developments. As a desktop analyst at heart, I admit I was sceptical at first of “all this online nonsense” – but embracing it I’ve found that it certainly doesn’t hinder my core analysis, and it actually is a good solution to the problem of how to get the results of my analysis across to those who need it.

Apart from the above main themes, I spent most of my time at the UC on the demo booth floor, talking to the Esri staff about the upcoming developments in the software. I saw all kinds of exciting prototypes and got information about 64-bit geoprocessing on the desktop, configurable viewer applications native to Windows 8, doing geoprocessing on Hadoop, some very impressive HTML5/CSS3 tech demos, and much more.

Come and find me at Ozri and I’ll tell you all about them!  And if you haven’t already registered for Ozri, it’s not too late – you can check out all the latest Ozri information and register online on our Ozri website.

-Thom M

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