Esri UC 2012 – My Random Thoughts…

After a geo-action packed week at the 2012 Esri UC here my top 10 observations that I had written down in my notebook:

  1. The spatial stats sessions were great, but for many of the sessions you needed an understanding of basic prob and stats.  Even with a basic understanding of stats all of the OLS, GWR, R Squared, and dependent variable talk may have been a little confusing for the beginner (which is totally understandable).  However, if you were a stats nut, then these sessions were right on the money.
  2. Roger Tomlinson’s speech at the Special Achievement in GIS awards ceremony was awesome.  His one liners were snappy and his overall message was appreciated by the audience.
  3. I always like meeting up with my old UConn grad school classmates and I was able to do that a lot at this year’s UC.  It is great to talk with them about what they are doing now and where they want to go.  At some point we should organize a party…
  4. I focused on spatial analysis sessions this year’s UC and all the raster analysis sessions I attended were great, and I am looking forward to a number of upgrades in 10.1.  I like presentations that progress from a question to a solution and the raster analysis presentations I saw definitely did this.
  5. You can’t beat the weather in San Diego.
  6. Seeing the improvements to the arcpy cursors in 10.1 made me happy.  Huge improvement in performance, so much so I’ll start using them!  Now I have to wait for SP1 when 64bit geoprocessing FINALLY becomes available before I actually upgrade.
  7. It seemed to me that the only vendors on the floor of the exhibition hall were those promoting/selling the cloud or mobile products.  There were a few data vendors out there, but I think they were all pushing cloud services and mobile products as well.
  8. I always like the graphics on the giant screen during the Esri UC plenary.  It must be someone’s full time job to create those “slides”.  I wish my powerpoint slides looked that good.
  9. The “Evening in Balboa Park” was a lot of fun, especially if you got there early and got to the sushi lines quickly. However, if you did have to wait in line for sushi at the Casa De Balboa the unique musician rocking out on the electric cello provided some quality entertainment!   Also, Metalachi rocked the house.
  10. My eight year old stopwatch died in San Diego.  This probably explains my horrible, down right embarrassing time in Esri 5k.  It’s obviously all my watch’s fault.
Roger and Jack
Roger Tomlinson and Jack Dangermond during the SAG ceremony. I bet Roger was thinking about the ways he was going to zing Jack during his speech!

Bonus Thoughts – you don’t have to use your ArcGIS Online credits to read these…

  • One of the biggest criticism of ArcGIS 10, and rightfully so, was in regards to the quality of the software.  If Jack, or any other members of Esri, had talked about efforts to improve the quality of Esri products during the morning plenary I believe you would have seen the hall erupt in applause, because frankly, that’s all we really care about. Reliable, quality software.
  • During the plenary Esri announced full 64 bit desktop in a service pack sometime in 2013. Finally…
  • I know GIS is firmly entrenched in the military and security sectors, but some of the demos I saw regarding drone data collection and creating spatial data from drone cameras was a little too “Big Brother” for my liking.
  • I wish the Padres were in town during the week of the conference.
  • Esri Maps for Microsoft Office could be a big hit, but it requires an AGO account and doesn’t come cheap.  I can see this as pretty powerful tool for organizations, but managing all those accounts, especially if you can’t tie them into your organization’s account system, might make it a little cumbersome to manage.  I need to learn more about EMMO.

Overall, I thought it was a good conference.  I did a lot of networking and learned a lot.  Like any conference, it is about what you make it.  I had a specific agenda that I stuck to and it turned out pretty good.

Were you there?  What did you think of the conference?  Would you recommend it to your cowokers or others in the geo-professions? Leave a comment!

You Stay Classy, San Diego

I just wrapped up a geo-packed week at the Esri UC and I’m about head back east.  Once I get settled back into my routine I’ll post my thoughts on the conference (Metalachi was awesome) and discuss some of the major themes and trends that were the buzz this past week (mobile, cloud, more mobile, more cloud). In the mean time check out my twitter, @GISDoctor, for what I was thinking during the conference.

Until then, more Metalachi!

Sunday Geo-Notes

It’s summertime and I’m not blogging or twittering as much.  Typical.  But, it’s Sunday morning and before I head out to the garden I wanted to share these few items:

  • I’m doing a lot of geo-analysis using MSSQL Server lately and as I tweeted, the spatial index can be the key to a fast query.  However, the spatial index is sometimes tricky to understand.  Check out the “The Black Art Of Spatial Index Tuning In SQL Server” for a good overview of SQL’s spatial indexing.  For other spatial SQL inspiration check out Bob Beauchemin’s blog.
  • Speaking of analysis, the folks at Somerville’e ResiStat, who I am a fan of, did a nice geo-analysis, actually using some real statistics, not just what they saw from Google Earth, to debunk  a “study” of equating tree coverage to income in Somerville, MA.
  • There is an Avid Geo meet-up this coming Thursday (7/19).  If you are a Boston based geo-pro or geo-nerd you should check out the group!
  • The biggest geo-news of the week, GeoIQ being bought by Esri, gota lot of people talking.  Some positive, some not-so-positive.  I just hope the talented folks at GeoIQ are given room to do their own thing and bring positive innovations to Esri’s product line.  Sometimes when the little guy is bought out by the big guy their ideas and creativity may languish in the corporate culture.  I hope this doesn’t happen to them.
  • The Esri UC festivities start at the end of this coming week with the ed and business summit kicking things off.  I’ll be heading out with a few of my coworkers and meeting up with some old grad school friends for the full UC.  Like last year, I’ll be focusing on the analysis presentation tracks.  I hope to see something about speeding up large geo-analyses.  I’ll touch on improving performance in my talk, but I want to see what others are doing, as everyone now-a-days is using huge datasets (whatever happened to the sample?).

Until next time, check out my twitter feed @GISDoctor.  I almost have a 100 followers!!!!!!!!!  Only 11M+ more followers until I catch Ashton Kutcher…

Esri Dev-Meet Up Boston – This Thursday

Esri’s Dev Meet Up tour rolls into Boston this Thursday at the Bell In Hand Tavern, which is easily accessible through either Haymarket, Government Center, or State Street T stops.  If you are driving in I couldn’t tell you a good place to park since I don’t drive anywhere in this town.

The event’s page is still accepting RSVPs.  If you are available come check it out.  I know there are a lot of GIS professionals and GIS enthusiasts in this town.  We should take advantage of Esri kindly providing free food and drinks!  As usual, there look to be a few good talks listed, and maybe someone’s talk will inspire you or bring you to a GIS “ah-ha” moment.

Event Details:

Esri Dev Meet Up Page:

See you there.

2012 – The Year of Spatial Analysis

With entering its second year in a blog format I have some plans for the site that will hopefully keep readers interested and bring in new readers.  Here is what I am planning for 2012!

  • Spatial Analysis – As a geographer by training, and professional geographer by occupation, I do a lot of spatial analysis and spatial statistics.  I will be developing a series of spatial analysis and spatial statistics posts over the year.  I will start with the basics and move into more complicated subjects.  Like the Intro to Spatial SQL guides, I will include test data and examples.  The tutorials will be targeted towards the geographer and GIS user, as that is my area of expertise.  I really want to focus this site towards the technical GIS professional and technical geographer during 2012.  Too many GIS blogs review the news (including this blog).  I want to become a technical resource for people who have questions like I do.
  • Spatial SQL – During January and February I will be adding some more posts on Spatial SQL and its use in geographical analysis.  I will be adding another series of more technical Spatial SQL how-to guides later in the year.
  • Online Mapping – I will hopefully add a few how-to guides on developing map-mash ups using a variety of APIs.  I’m interested in learning more about Bing Maps as well as Open Layers and Map Server.  I hope to get a few examples out sometime this spring.
  • Software Reviews – In 2012 ArcGIS 10.1 will be released (Hooray! or shucks. It depends on your point of view).  I’ll post a detailed review a few weeks after I get to use the software intensely.  Also, when I get SQL Server 2012 (Denali) I’ll review the improved spatial components.
  • Conference Reviews – I’ll make sure to review the 2012 Esri UC and any other conferences I make it to.
  • Finally, when applicable to the readers of this site, I’ll post news stories and items that I find interesting.

I’m sure there will be a number of other topics that I write about.  So make sure you subscribe to the feed to get the latest updates.

Thanks for being a reader.  The site has done a lot better than I could have imagined and I hope 2012 goes just as well.

Happy GIS New Years!


WhereCamp Boston 2011 Review

WhereCamp Boston was this past weekend and it was pretty cool.  Even with troubles with the Red Line (typical) about 50 people were there on Saturday.  I was signed-up for both days but other last minute commitments pulled me away from Sunday’s portion of the weekend conference.

There were two keynote talks on Saturday that were both very interesting.

The morning keynote went to Jeffrey Warren from the Public Laboratory.  He talked about a number of projects that they have been working on including the really amazing balloon mapping techniques that they have developed.  I’ve seen him talk a couple times and after I immediately want to create my own aerial photography!

Tom MacWright from Development Seed gave the afternoon keynote talk and discussed a number of projects including MapBox.  The tools he demonstrated were pretty sweet.  I recommend that you take five minutes and check it out.

A few take-aways from my time at Boston’s first WhereCamp:

  • There was a good variety of people.  There was the GIS crowd, the programmers, the open sourcers, and the spatially enabled.  That mix led to some great conversations in the breakout sessions and in the common areas during the breaks.
  • Speaking of open source, there was a definite open source feel to the meeting, which was completely understandable, as many of the participants came from that side of the GIS coin.
  • I need to learn more about open source GIS.
  • There were some great sessions that emerged from the ideas of the group.  I went to a really good Google Android app builder session, and I heard some good talk about some of the other sessions that occurred including those on open source mapping.
  • The Microsoft NERD facility was awesome and it has one of the best views of Boston.
  • I was really impressed with where people came from.  There were attendees from the Boston region, all over New England, the east coast, and even some from California!
  • The spontaneity was great.  People would chat in the meeting areas during the breaks about a particular idea and it would become a session.  Also, people would propose sessions with the hope that someone could come in and show them something they didn’t know.  That’s what exactly happened to me.  Someone proposed an intro to spatial SQL session and I ended up putting together an (but not that great) impromptu workshop!
  • For next year I am going to come prepared with a few pre-canned workshops so that I can contribute more to the sessions.

Finally, Guido Stein and the ISpatialBoston team did a great job planning the event.  I think next year will be even better as more participants will have ideas going into the weekend and be willing to contribute more.

Again, a big thank you to the organizers.  You did a great job!  Thank you!

WhereCamp Boston – This weekend!

It is an exciting time for the spatial crowd in Boston!  WhereCamp Boston is this weekend and you need to sign-up now!

WhereCamp is an “unconference“, meaning that the people who come are the ones who drive the sessions.  Attendees plan the sessions, workshops, and panels through the WhereCamp Wiki or during the conference itself.  On the registration page many people are stating their interest in open source GIS, web mapping, and “what’s next”.

If you are going (and you really should) consider participating in the wiki and post your session idea!  I’ve been working on a number of really interesting projects lately and I am hoping to bring some of my ideas and challenges to the unconference.  Here is what I am interested in learning more about this weekend:

  • How to scientifically validate VGI and developing tools and methods to do so
  • Learning more about open source GIS, and more specifically, the growing body of analytical tools that are both well built and scientifically strong
  • The art of the spatial index
  • Aggregating VGI from web sources
  • Big data
  • Web map design best practices

As a “traditional” GIS guy I am also really interested in how the “non-traditional” spatial folks view “spatial”.  I am interested to learn about what their needs and challenges are and share ideas with them.  I look forward to brainstorming ideas with those who may see spatial problems from a different perspective than myself.  Sometimes the best ideas to solve a problem may come from those who see things differently than you.  That’s why I am pumped for this weekend.

The event is being held at Microsoft NERD in Cambridge, located in the techiest tech neighborhood in America!  The locations is a short walk away from the Kendall T stop and don’t worry, you’ll be able to get there.

The organizers have worked hard to put this together and the least we can do is show up and make this event great!

Where: Microsoft NERD
When: October 29 and 30th
Who: Anyone spatial
Why: Every spatial nerd from the greater Boston region will be there!

View Larger Map

Upcoming Boston Spatial Unconferences and Meet-ups

October is a busy time for spatial unconferences and meet-ups in the Boston area!

The folks at ISpatialBoston are hard at work organizing Boston’s first WhereCamp, which will be taking place October 29th and 30th at the Microsoft NERD office in Cambridge’s technology hub, Kendall Square .  WhereCamp is an “unconference“, meaning that the attendees develop sessions based on what they are interested in.  They have three keynote speakers lined-up and I’m sure there will be many interesting sessions that develop over the course of the weekend.  Registration is open and it’s not too expensive. If you are in the area and are interested in “spatial” check out WhereCamp Boston.  I’m looking forward to my first unconference.  I can imagine that there will be a lot of open-source and crowdsourcing talk.  I’m interested in finding out more on how to, if possible, validate crowd-sourced data in relation to the impacts of natural catastrophes.

The other upcoming spatial gathering is Esri’s Boston DevMeet-Up taking place on October 20th.  The location is TBD, but last year’s Boston meet-up had about 50 to 60 people show-up and there were a few good talks.  I even won an EDN license!  The Esri DevMeet-Ups bring together Esri geospatial developers in an informal setting to talk shop.  It is also a good time to meet other geospatial developers and pick their brains!

Unlike the weekend long WhereCamp, the Boston Esri DevMeet-Up is only for a couple hours on a weeknight where Esri provides the food and drinks.  I hope there are some good talks.  I’d be interested to see some code examples or talks about HTML5 integration, web-based spatial analytics, or interactive visualization methodologies for very large datasets.

Again, if you are in the area, check out these non-traditional spatial meetings.  I know there are a ton of geospatial folks who can take public transit to these events.  Hope to see all the locals there!

2012 AAG Conference

It’s that time of year to start thinking about the annual AAG conference.  The 2012 meeting is being held at the end of February in cold, snowy, New York City.  If you are a member of the Association of American Geographers you have probably received the 215 million emails about the 2012 AAG conference.   The call for papers runs through the end of September and will more than likely be extended into mid-October (it happens every year).  So, get those abstracts ready, those posters planned, and panelists committed. The AAG meeting is coming!

If you are familiar with Northeastern US weather you’ll know that you’ll need to bring your boots, heavy coat, winter hat and gloves to the conference.   Now, since it is the off-season in NYC you’ll probably get good deals on airfare and hotels, but you’ll have to pay extra in baggage for that extra bag with all your winter gear.

New York Road Trip 2011-02-21-071

At least New York will look nice during the conference, or it could be a big, wet mess. Source: Flickr

Now, I haven’t decided if I am going to the AAG meeting this year.   I’ve been to a few conferences so far in the past couple months and I think I may look to spend some time in a warm weather location instead.