If A Picture Paints A Thousand Words, Maps Are Just Off The Charts!

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

I’ve always been a map person with maps showing up in my house as floor rugs, shower curtains, clothing, dishes, jigsaw puzzles etc.  So the ESRI User Conference was right up my alley. 

With the explosion of data (and interest in data), organizations are desperate for ways to organize, visualize and better leverage it.  Maps are a perfect way to make data real, and the stats on ESRI’s conference show it.  The role of “geographical information system” (GIS) professional is thriving.  The event organizers registered 14,922 attendees by mid-week, with over 15,000 expected by the end of the week-long event.  Attendees represented 126 countries, US representation being largest, but the rest of the top ten including Canada, Japan, Germany, the UK, Australia, South Korea, Mexico, Norway and South Africa.   Of the 36 industries represented, most were public sector including state and local government, defense and intelligence and federal government.  But interesting examples were provided across retail – e.g. the use of traffic and demographic data to evaluate and compare alternative retail locations – and other commercial sectors.   The list of use cases was impressive – with lofty uses such as planning for the future, preserving resources, and exploration to more down-to-earth examples such as building management, urban planning and law enforcement.  In most cases, where there is data, there could be a map to show it, and help understand it better. 

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