Blog by Steve Ford
Last week I attended my first New Zealand Esri User Conference (NZEUC), one of the largest gatherings of spatial professionals in Australasia. It was a surreal feeing being surrounded by almost 600 spatial professionals, a large chunk of what I perceive to be a relatively small community in New Zealand. This year Interpret had a strong presence at the conference, with seven attendees, six presentations and mentions in many others.
Walking around the expo area, I was impressed with the number of young people in attendance, made up of both emerging professionals and students. I noticed that the excitement factor was much higher in these groups compared to others, possibly due to the level of innovation and new technology on display that they may not have seen on the same level before. In general, however, the expo area seemed like a bit of a lolly scramble of competitions and giveaways to attract the attention of a crowd more interested in networking and ‘talking business’ (I guess all that information is online these days anyway).
I found the plenary sessions really interesting, with a great selection of guest speakers. One of them, Martin O’Malley (previous Governor of Maryland, Mayor of Baltimore and candidate for the Democratic nomination for the 2016 US presidential election), spoke of his experiences of using geospatial analysis in the realm of government, benefitting an area that had particular struggles in crime, segregation and poverty. His speech was immensely inspiring and created a buzz around the conference.
Simon McMillan of Kaikorai Valley College spoke of his experience in teaching GIS in his school. As a part of its science and technology program, students between the ages of 8 and 10 perform data collection and use ArcGIS Online to run analysis on their onsite urban. It was great to see that in a few short years, GIS as a subject has changed from being introduced to a select group of students in their university studies, to young kids in the early stages of their education. This is a great outcome of Esri and Eagle Technology’s drive to increase the profile of GIS and ‘the Science of Where’ to younger people.
One of the highlights of the conference was the industry renowned conference dress up dinner. Jeremy Corbett was the MC of the night and provided the laughs as we sipped on our special NZEUC branded beer from Tuatara Breweries. The costumes were absolutely fantastic, clearly many hours of planning, creating and beard growing were involved showing great commitment by some at the event.
Overall the conference was really enjoyable for me, it was a great opportunity to learn about where the industry is headed and to see some great examples of the day to day innovation that exists in our Geospatial community.