News from GITA

By Joe Francica

The news from the Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) was fairly muted.The attendance this year was reported to be about 2500, down slightly from last year.However, the exhibit hall was full, and a few new vendors, such as Questerra, were making their presence known.The program had many excellent presentations and I was quite pleased to see that this part of the industry was willing to air their dirty laundry.Although I was not able to attend the presentation, I very much applaud Jeffrey Meyers of Miner and Miner for providing "Ten Things I Hate About You -- The Worst Mistakes In GIS Project History (And How To Avoid Them).

If there was any segment of the GIS business that has both risked the technology investment and shared in its defeats, it is the utility industry.Not to overstate the issue, but the world does not produce the goods and services that its citizens need without sound infrastructure management of the electricity, gas, water, and telecommunications that we need to live.GIS is fundamental in the jobs that are done each day in this field and its IT professionals are on the front lines 24x7.

However, I came away from the show thinking that not much has radically changed in the last few years.Perhaps this is a good thing as GIS matures and finds its way into the broader IT function.Sessions on wireless location services were added but I'm not sure deployment is high on any manager's list when basic mapping provides the essential backbone of everyday needs.I'd like to hear your comments on this issue.

But another issue is the way in which the association is positioning itself with its membership.During the time at which GITA changed its name from AM/FM, there was a philosophy in its ranks that saw a need to expand beyond its focus on utilities.Session on "Business GIS" were held in conjunction with traditional data conversion, CAD, and SCADA.But this year's show was very traditional in scope, and for an industry which has suffered because of the economy, this is also not a bad thing.However, it fails to generate the interest or push the limits of expectations that may be needed to excite its membership and broaden its base.I will readily admit that I am not an expert on the utilities industry and I offer this space to anyone who feels differently.But the broad scope that the association intended to address is not there.It is still fundamentally the AM/FM show of the past.

Published Friday, March 22nd, 2002

Written by Joe Francica

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