Dangermond Acknowledges GIS Professionals on GIS Day

By Nora Parker

Rocket City Geospatial conference attendees celebrated GIS day with a special cake.
It's always special to be with somebody on their birthday. Being with Jack Dangermond on the 10th anniversary of GIS Day (which falls during Geography Awareness Week) is in that same category. During his keynote presentation at the Rocket City Geospatial Conference in Huntsville, AL on Wednesday, Dangermond (president of ESRI) made special mention of the occasion. His central theme was honoring GIS professionals and what they do in the context of making the world a better, and more sustainable, place.

While cataloging numerous applications (planning, transportation, land information systems, public safety and law enforcement, managing natural disasters, natural resource management, social issues, and human health), Dangermond discussed mapping foreclosure patterns. He ran an animation that clearly showed the pattern of higher numbers of foreclosures two hours away from major metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles and San Francisco. "It isn't the downtown areas, or even the near suburbs, but way out - the consistent pattern of increased gas prices caused the foreclosures. … Geography tells that story. … GIS is about telling stories."

Dangermond highlighted the following trends.
  • Growth in the number and sophistication of "Fusion Centers" (centers built around the country to support emergency management)
  • Increasing popularity of mashups, which will bring the notion of GIS to "virtually everyone"
  • Increasing integration of imagery
  • More support for mobile applications (LBS)
  • Geobrowsers are becoming the norm
  • Content (not just data) will become an integral part of GIS, and it will be delivered by services.
Dangermond delivered what can only be described as a pep talk for GIS professionals. "Climate and global warming - loss of biodiversity … there is no 'bailout' for this increasingly challenging situation. … [But] GIS is doing good - it's a counter-balance to some of the negative things that are happening in our society and our world," said Dangermond. "Our world needs a new approach … I don't think it will work out without deliberate and conscious thought about how to do things … to chart a better future. Right now we are certainly doomed. I travel a lot, I see it, and it's not a good future. On the other hand, what you guys are doing … all those things are making a difference. These [applications you develop] are all improving the world."

Published Friday, November 21st, 2008

Written by Nora Parker

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