OZRI Wrap Up

Last week, Andrew and I went to the OZRI Conference in Melbourne to catch up on the latest in the ESRI lineup.

There were a lot of sessions for the two of us to cover, but you can see various feeds from the conference by checking out both the ESRI Blog and you can also see the Twitter feed at http://twitter.com/#!/search/%23ozri (I don’t know if anyone is harvesting and storing these, so get them while you can).

With a big conference such as this, it’s hard to summarise the whole thing, so here’s some highlights from the speakers from Andrew and I…

  • Sohail Inayatullah, a self-confessed easily lost futurist, gave a great talk about the future of “spatial”.  He echoed something I’ve been saying for a while that many of the real innovations are coming from outside of the spatial field, but also just gave the audience a clearly articulated view of one possible future, where spatial is a part of everyday life (we’re close now, right?).
  • Lisa Cornish, from AGIMO (@Lisa_Cornish on Twitter) gave a great talk about http://data.gov.au, which when you combine it with the panel discussion “The Power of Data” that followed, really asked some interesting questions – like “What is the role of PSMA when data.gov.au gives data away?” from Andrew Wise on Twitter.  It’s a valid question and raises the whole issue of opening up data, and adapting to the changes that brings.
  • Stephen Lead from Ajilon gave his “usual” web mapping talk about how to better design web maps.  He’s an engaging speaker, and he’s been lucky to work with some great designers on an interesting project, the Atlas of NSW.  The principles he put in behind his talk are things that anyone who is doing development work on web maps should know and understand – basically, think about your users, and make sure the design is rock solid and does what the users expect.
  • Finally, I can’t help but mention two talks in particular: Ross Luttrell’s talk on the Water metering project in Tasmania and William Mortimer’s talk on finding the location of chicken farms in Queensland were two really interesting case studies of the use of technology.  Ross told us how many houses in Tasmania don’t yet have water meters, and they’re working on that, using a range of different mobile setups for different parts of that installation process, which was interesting.  William actually got to do some really interesting modelling and analysis work in his project, which was something that made me quite jealous.

And here’s some of the highlights of the technology side of things…

  • ArcGIS 10.1 – what’s new? 85 new geoprocessing tools, Maplex included free, LIDAR LAS format files are now natively supported, and a few other improvements.  One of the fun ones was that there is now a dynamic legend (showing only the features in the legend that are in the map window) – a function that at least one person said they were happy with, because they didn’t have to write that function yet again!
  • The ArcGIS mobile session was interesting for me, because they clearly said ArcPad is not at the end of its life, it is their mobile GIS version for professionals.  ArcGIS mobile – coming for Windows Mobile, Android, iOS and Windows – will be more for the general public or “non-professionals”.  While the presentation didn’t have the clearest message, one I took home was that each licence of ArcGIS desktop gives you a licence of ArcGIS mobile.
  • ArcGIS online – this was one of the main focuses for ESRI at the conference, it seems, with a lot of discussions centred around the web, web services, the cloud, etc.  It is an interesting insight into the future of the ESRI platforms, I think.

Both Andrew and I noted the emphasis on GIS with a “little g”.  ESRI are talking about “location”, not “spatial” and not “GIS” – that’s also quite interesting when you consider ESRI acquiring companies such as SpotOn.  This is part of the mainstreaming of the spatial industry, I think, and will make for some interesting times in our future.  This is something that we’re exploring internally next week so we can give Tom some fodder for his upcoming GeoRabble talk… stay tuned for that one.

Oh, and you can’t mention OZRI without mentioning Cisco’s jokes, like “What type of map do spiders make?”. That was a highlight as well!

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