US: Jack Dangermond’s company, Esri, has remained relevant in the era of free, ubiquitous Google Maps by keeping close ties with government clients and by adapting its software to all new data types, according to a report published in Forbes. Moreover, the report stated that the text messages, tweets and mobile photos flying across the computing clouds all now come with a location stamp and can be harnessed within a live map.
The billionaire cofounder with his wife, Laura, has, over the last 40-plus years made it his mission to make it easier to turn complex data into digestible, insightful visual terms. Or, as he said, “to use GIS to understand how things are changing and describe them in maps.”
Hence, numerous innovative applications of GIS can be noticed now-a-days. For instance, Residents of Glendale, California, can text city officials the location of potholes, trash and graffiti via an online Esri map. During the oil spill disaster (BP Disaster) Esri put up a site that combined data on wind and Gulf currents with Flickr photos and YouTube videos to map the spill and monitor cleanup, said Russ Johnson, Esri’s director of public safety and emergency response. BP and the Coast Guard used the site in setting up booms and sending in oil-skimming vessels. “It’s the adoption of technology that’s behind what’s possible,” said Johnson.
In September, Dangermond decided to put some of that software power into the hands of what Esri calls “qualified” (read: nonreligious) nonprofit organisations–for free. Esri packages can cost up to USD 40,000. The revenue hit to the private USD 800 million (sales) company “will not be substantial,” said Dangermond. He pointed to a higher purpose. “Our world is evolving without consideration, and the result is a loss of biodiversity, energy issues, congestion in cities,” he said. “But geography, if used correctly, can be used to redesign sustainable and more livable cities.”
“He always thinks about how we can get better at designing our rural and urban environments,” said Lilian Pintea, Director of conservation science at the Jane Goodall Institute. The group is using Esri programmes to track the habitat of apes in Tanzania’s Geombe National Park and see how villages encroach on primate territory.