I spoke with Bob Samborski, president of the Geospatial Information and Technology Association (GITA), this morning regarding some reports that have been surfacing about the status of the Geospatial Solutions Conference that took place this week in Grapevine, Texas. Attendance for the association's annual conference had been declining in recent years and there had been discussions among board members as to the future of the event. Several factors, inlcuding the economy, have led Samborski to indicate that the conference "had run its course." Both from attendees and exhibitors the feedback had been that while the program was excellent, the attendance was disappointing.
For next year, Samborski indicated that whatever the association decides, it will be "not this conference...not [in] this format." No dates have been confirmed for next year nor a meeting venue. This was the 34th annual meeting for the association and Samborski said it took some time for him to come to the conclusion that this may be the final event, but hastened to add that other alternatives are being discussed. One of those alternatives may include co-locating a similar GITA event with Utilimetrics, another utility technology association at their Autovation conference. Samborski felt that since Utilimetrics was another association that the fit with their business model may be most appropriate. These details will all be worked out in the future and an official statement from GITA will be forthcoming.
My take: Over the last several years, I've commented on the state of the GITA conference (2005, 2007, 2010) and have had many conversations with Bob. I think the decision taken at this time by the association is the proper one and the move to build relationships with other, similar utility technology associations will benefit the community of users and association members. It's time to change and as geospatial techology matures, we're seeing a shift toward vertical solution events rather than broad GIS conferences. While the conclusion of this annual event may seen unfortunate, the association should and will look toward other avenues to forge a different technology community.