GIS continues to evolve and increasingly plays a larger role in the digital transformation of society. The maturity of GIS helps users do their work better and helps organizations understand and communicate in many new ways. It breaks down organizational barriers and facilitates new forms of collaboration around shared geographic information. Today the new Web GIS pattern is rapidly growing—making a difference across organizations.
In the Esri UC 2018 Plenary Session, Jack Dangermond, Founder, and President, Esri USA rightly pointed out how GIS is helping the world to perform better. Be it urban planning, transportation, healthcare, natural resource management or utilities, GIS is enabling the community to find answers to the most pressing issues. The Science of Where is opening up a plethora of opportunities, enabling us to learn how visualization can help in creating more livable cities. GIS is also moving into buildings. The applications of GIS are increasing manifold, and Esri UC is all set to explore GIS is inspiring ‘What Next’.
At the Plenary, Jack presented the SAG (Special Achievement in GIS) Awards for exemplary contributions in the field of GIS. Enterprise GIS Award, which is given by Esri to the best user, was awarded to Sempra Energy, which is serving to 20 million customers in San Diego. The leadership in Governance Award went to Governor John Hickenlooper, State of Colorado. He emphasized that things can get working only through collaboration among the public sector, private sector, and the community. The coveted President’s Award was awarded to the American Red Cross for using GIS in making the world a better place, for making wonderful contributions in healing the world.
Post the awards, Jack highlighted how the pace of change in the world is accelerating exponentially, creating more challenges, threatening our natural world.
To counter these challenges, what needs to be done next? According to Jack, we should apply the power of digital geography and envision what’s possible, and look at what we are actually doing and accelerating it, for instance, improving productivity and efficiency, creating sustainable development, engaging citizens, protecting biodiversity, making cities smarter, integrating environmental thinking and designing with nature.
What’s next: Massive transformations on the way
The Plenary highlighted GIS is advancing rapidly, integrating innovations. A new generation of GIS is developing based on sharing and collaboration, leveraging technology to interconnect knowledge and engage everyone. The first generation of digital transformation involved digitizing workflows and now technology is becoming ‘simultaneous.’ We are moving towards achieving interconnection of workflows. Bringing together the power of WebGIS, smart maps, Web maps, location analytics, we are bringing everything together like a constellation. Web maps are becoming a common language for problem solving. Apps are taking The Science of Where everywhere. Earth observation combined with AI and GIS is providing us with real-time intelligence. GIS professionals need to embrace this digital transformation and leverage The Science of Where for creating solutions.
Jack reinforces, “We need to integrate The Science of Where in an accelerated way. We need to envision the future and participate in creating a geoscience-based foundation for our future. I call it societal GIS.” This is essential and inevitable. Esri ArcGIS can play a vital role in achieving this transformation as it empowers all aspects of the organization through three main modules – System of Record, System of Insight and System of Engagement.
The session gained thrust with a presentation from J.D. Irving Limited which has been delivering quality service in myriad domains since 1882. They were the number 2 user of Esri ArcGIS. They have been pursuing the vision of GIS that connects the diversity of who we are. Adding to their diverse service catalog, they are now considering ‘replanting’, in which also GIS will play a big role.
While talking about What’s Next in GIS, Jack also talked about the innovations in data management that Esri is coming up with. It is introducing a new kind of data type, a type of unstructured data that will enable geocoding text. Integration of BIM and ArcGIS is also an excellent innovation with multiple benefits. In mapping and cartography, the improved tools and technology include new tools in symbology and annotation, production mapping and charting, maps for adobe creative cloud and Microsoft. These innovations from Esri will improve access to data for all. Integrating AI and machine learning into ArcGIS platforms also makes GIS more prepared for next level applications.
As the Plenary highlighted, keeping pace with the changes happening all around us, not only the GIS professionals, but we all need to analyze what will the future bring to us personally, our organizations, and the world? What does the future holds for us? As we follow the upcoming sessions of Esri UC, we hope to get more inspired on our journey from what’s now to what’s next.