A Different Sort of User Conference: Schneider Corporation’s UC
whole world of conferences, GIS conferences included, is changing with
the down economy. Some software vendors are taking their conferences
online, others are simplifying their offerings. Industry conferences
are linking up to better serve their members. Potential attendees are
counting their pennies and looking for the largest return on their time
and money investments. One conference, now in its 12th year, isn't
changing that much, though its theme of "Harvest More with GIS" is very
timely. Directions Magazine spoke with Jeff Corns, vice president of GIS for The Schneider Corporation,
a full-service professional services firm that provides engineering,
technology and consulting solutions, about his company's upcoming
events, the 2009 GIS Conferences and User Groups (press release).
Directions Magazine (DM): Are these events for existing Schneider users only?
Jeff Corns (JC): The GIS Conference is open to both Schneider
customers as well as others interested in our work. We have a GIS
orientation section (outlined on our website) that is open to anyone
who would like to attend and they do not have to be a customer.Â
Several organizations find this a good way to explore GIS and network
with other existing GIS users.Â
DM: There are many sessions on Beacon. What is Beacon?
JC: Beacon is an interactive public access tool that allows users
to view county and city information, public records and geographic
information systems (GIS) via an online portal. Beacon combines both
Web-based GIS and Web-based data reporting tools including CAMA, Tax,
Permitting, Utility Maintenance, and Work Order Management into a
single, user-friendly Web application.
DM: How is admission managed?
JC: Existing clients that are engaged in an active project with The
Schneider Corporation automatically get admission to the
conference.Â After initial projects are complete, our clients can
choose from a variety of support plans, from phone support to Schneider
serving as their GIS coordinator, all of which include admission to our
DM: What is the goal of the conference?
JC: The theme of the conference is to "Harvest More with GIS."
Because most organizations are struggling with decreasing revenue
streams, we want attendees to be equipped with ideas on how to identify
additional revenue (i.e. identifying taxable property outlined in the
example in the press release), how to help cut their costs (we save
organizations an average of 25 man hours per day), and how using GIS
overall will help them make better decisions.Â Â
DM: Schneider has done this before. What is new this year?
JC: Schneider has hosted an annual GIS conference for the past 11
years. What's new this year is an emphasis on how GIS can help drive
revenue and reduce costs because of the financial status of most of our
client organizations. This is also the first year that we have designed
the dedicated orientation session for attendees who are not Schneider
clients.Â This year's conference will include 12 breakout sessions
covering Land Records Management, Infrastructure Management, and Public
Safety, as well as emerging issues such as the use of social media