ESRI – Mapping & Visualizing Data

The Esri User Conference July 2017 at San Diego Convention Center drew 18,000 people, two thousand more than last year.


The plenary trailer gives a sense of the diversity of the presenters and topics.

See other  videos for more information. Esri, originally founded as the Environmental Systems Research Institute, has maintained its concern for global problem-solving as it has grown into an international supplier of geographic information system (GIS) software, web GIS and geodatabase management applications – the major GIS company in the world.

The Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES) Partner Spotlight in 2017 was on Dr. Dawn Wright, Chief Scientist of Esri, and its application of its world-leading geographic information system (GIS) software for global problem-solving. Dr. Wright has authored or co-authored more than 150 articles and 10 books on marine GIS, hydrothermal activity and tectonics of mid-ocean ridges, and marine data modeling. One of her books, Ocean Solutions – Earth Solutions, engaged a range of professionals and academics in the mapping field to address cutting edge development challenges and applications of maps to support global problem-solving. When Dr. Wright was asked why Esri chose to become a GLORES partner, she said, “We were greatly inspired by the vision of GLORES to serve as an accelerator to drive STRONG protection. And given that we are a geographic information systems company, we are also excited by the aim of GLORES to provide a decidedly geographical solution for an existential threat to the oceans and ultimately to the livability of the entire planet.”

Esri provided the conference facilities at their headquarters in Redlands, CA for the Global Marine Protected Areas Partner Summit (Partnering for Healthy Oceans) in November of 2015 and the first preview of the global marine ecological units (EMU) map commissioned by the Group on Earth Observations and featured in Nature. Esri has also former a partnership with the Marine Conservation Institute to develop an Atlas of Marine Protection.

Dominik Tarolli and Brooks Patrick are driving Esri applications using 3D and virtual reality. They describe 3D, VR, and AR as the next big thing in the GIS industry. In 2012 Esri intensified its commitment to ocean and coastal projects and hired Drew Stevens as Industry Manager for Ocean and Coastal Environments.

Allen Carroll, formerly Chief Cartographer with the National Geographic, had been at National Geographic more than twenty years when he had an aha moment — the idea that “Story Maps” could join the power of maps with the power of storytelling backed up by data. His vision was that coupling maps with stories could make data more accessible to a broad audience, enabling story-telling for a cause. He shared his big idea with Esri founder/ CEO, Jack Dangermond, who invited him to join Esri to lead the Story Map team.

The Story Map session on the last day of the Esri 2017 conference filled a San Diego Convention Center ballroom. Allen Carroll, Bern Szukalski, Chief Technology Advocate and Product Strategist at Esri, and Rupert Essinger, who curates the Story Map Gallery, co-led the session. They shared a range of Story Map apps, such as the Story Map (Vertical) Swipe & Spyglass, and formats, such as Cascade. A tutorial shows how to develop a Story Map. Story Maps can locate on a map a sequence of geotagged photos or videos and are responsive to all screen sizes.

Story Maps can be developed as teaching tools and can complement concept maps in engaging students working on hard topics, such as climate change and the plastics problem. One growing new application of Story Maps is as a vehicle for crowdsourcing public input. Since they are open source and can be used for applications ranging from data collection to annual reports. Story Maps have even been used for Fiction, such as Game of Thrones Story Maps.

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Story Maps are being developed as a collection to address a range of topics. The best way to see the potential of Story Maps is through examples in the Esri Gallery. The team shared some of their favorites, and we’ve added some of ours:

Esri Founder CEO Jack Dangermond‘s big vision is to bring the power of GIS to everyone anywhere, anytime, supporting big data analytics in real time. He reminded his audience that Leonardo da Vinci said: Knowing is not enough…we need to apply. Being willing is not enough… we must do. Dangermond inspired his audience to see how Esri tools offer ways to Supercharge Community Engagement with ArcGIS Hub.


Zann Gill for earthDECKS
Assen Assenov, GIS collaborator/producer for earthDECKS



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