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Esri India UC 2017
Esri Founder Jack Dangermond

“I would like all of you to get up and introduce yourself to someone you have never met before,” Jack Dangermond declares as he takes the podium at the Esri India User Conference 2017. It’s not the first time the founder of the world’s largest mapping technology company has pulled this neat little trick out of his hat, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. But, his signature ice-breaking exercise is more relevant today than ever as India finds itself chasing the dream of digital transformation.

“This is what I like about India. You are forging relationships and forming communities to enable transformation. You believe in learning from each other’s experiences,” Jack smiles, as he progresses to explain to a packed hall how GIS is at the forefront of this transformation, enabling the world to become a smarter place.

With billions moving to embrace the Internet of Things (IoT), GIS and mapping have become an essential enabling tool for us, almost like a fundamental language that helps us understand and manage the world by providing content and context about everything. “GIS provides the framework and processes for enabling a smarter world. It does this through data integration and management, visualization and mapping, analysis and modeling, decision-making and planning,” Jack points out.

Also read: 10 visionary statements on Web GIS by Esri CEO Jack Dangermond

Even as the world transforms, GIS itself is evolving and becoming an interconnected platform, opening, integrating and simplifying everything. “When I tell people that Web GIS will become a portal of portals, creating an open and real-time system of engagement, they stop and ask me: Is this actually going to happen, Jack?” he quips. “I tell them, it’s my sense and experience from watching this revolution unfold that not only is this possible in the next couple of years, it is actually inevitable.”

Jack insists that people will share knowledge and grow as a community to meet the challenges faced by the world together, including climate change, natural disasters, population, social conflict, energy, urbanization, et al. Stressing that moving to real-time GIS will change everything, he tells, “IoT is connecting the built environment with the natural environment. And real-time GIS integrates the sensor network with IoT. This has enabled high-velocity data streams, monitoring and alerting, dynamic and big data analytics. Real-time GIS will shape a smarter world by connecting everyone to create a system of engagement; it will provide dynamic information about everything.”

Esri India UC 2017
The Hub Approach to Community GIS

Jack also believes that embedding advanced analytics and visualization that provides a system of insight will soon become necessary for every business. “You may argue you don’t have Big Data, but I would say, you don’t have Big Data yet. Soon you would also have it, because we are measuring everything.”

Smart GIS applications are already changing how we think and act. Earthquake alerting or flood analytics and prediction applications are prime examples of that. “Community engagement is accelerating, informing and connecting us all. Community GIS is a new pattern that is enabling smarter civic engagement,” Jack says, explaining how Los Angeles is already implementing community GIS by expanding their geo systems to support everyone.

To keep up with these changing times, Jack goes on to detail how ArcGIS is also evolving. From client/server, it has now moved on to Web services and apps. From a single server, it now operates in a distributed computing model. 2D features have now turned 3D. Simple spatial analysis has transformed into spatiotemporal and big data analytics. Instead of plain digital cartography, ArcGIS now supports smart mapping, and so on… “And most importantly, do you know that with ArcGIS Pro 1.4 — which we released a few weeks ago — you can essentially replace ArcMap? It can do everything that ArcMap can do, and then some more,” Jack smiles. Go, check it out!