NCCC Goes to Berlin!!! (updated)

Posted by NCCC_Charlie


NCCC Goes to Berlin!!! (updated)

While in Sweden where my fiance is from, I made a quick detour to Berlin to attend the ESRI 2012 GIS Developer Summit. This is essentially a gathering of map nerds that gave us a sneak peak of things to come in the digital geo-spatial world and how we can utilize them in our efforts of protecting our beloved watershed. Look for some cool new mapping applications over the next few months!!!

This is an update to this post, per my boss’s request. He wanted me to also include my trip report to him as a field note. Read it here:

“ESRI 2012 Berlin Summit Narrative

Well, where to start. I’m still processing the amount of info that was unloaded on me at the summit. I should begin by saying I received a lot of surprised looks and questions about NCCC and how and why, I came so far to attend, and what NCCC does. I also got to rub shoulders with some of the top GIS developers in the industry from ESRI and other companies, including CEOs of various organizations, and was told by ESRI’s development team, that their US CEO REALLY likes conservation organizations such as ours.

I got a sneak peak of many new features that ESRI is unrolling for their online mapping platform, which we can utilize on our web maps. Basically over the next few months, they will unroll 3 updates to their cloud services that can potentially benefit NCCC. Among these I am especially excited about the adding of additional queries/filters and the ability to perform geoprocessing and some raster analysis on To me, this means not only advances in data collection in the field, but also faster processing and analysis which can speed up our workflows. For example, next summer if we have an intern collecting field data, that person with a little training, should be able to easily and simultaneously collect data with a tablet, edit it, and add it to the cloud; all from the field.

ESRI will also be adding more geocoding and reverse geocoding functions to Geocoding is a process in GIS that matches points to an address. Among these, there will be direction routing, meaning we should be able to offer point a to b directions for users to access points in the watershed using our web map, much like Google maps does. I’m also really excited about the “reverse geocoding.” ESRI just bought the Portland Based company Geoloqi, which specializes in reverse geocoding for smart device applications. They have created an application for that will recognize where user’s devices are and send messages to that person’s device if it reaches a certain proximity to a defined location. With this, we could create and interpretive hike on the Cumberland Trail, so when the user’s phone gets within 500m of a point, say a mine site, boom that person gets a message about the history of coal mining in the watershed, effects of acid mine drainage, and what we are doing to mitigate these problems. Or say someone walks into Brew Haus; same thing, they get a message only this time it’s about how Brew Haus supports NCCC, who we are, and why they should buy Chickbock to support us. It’s basically a simple and easily deployable augmented reality application that should be available this summer according to ESRI.

Other things that we will be able to utilize include: increased API widgets for online map customization, the ability to add ISO and FGDC metadata, to web maps (meta data is essential to what we do), some really cool voice recognition applications that allows adding a point to the map by speaking, but from the demonstration I saw it still needs some work, and also they will be expanding their 3D data on the web city engine. This would give us the ability to create a 3D tour of the watershed. It would allow users to fly through and explore much like a Google Earth tour, but with more detail. Also, ESRI will add customized printing enhancements to the applications. We will be able to customize the printing page with our logo, text, etc, so that it prints on the page with the map for the end user.

In conclusion, what I gathered from the summit is that GIS is going through a real paradigm shift. Historically GIS has been a highly specialized field for highly specialized individual users, but with the shift of users becoming the center piece of technology, the explosion of smart devices and associated apps, this is all changing. GIS products are more accessible and being used by everyone. Users will be expecting applications such as these, to aide them in their day-to-day lives and we are in a unique position among organizations of our type, to be the first to give it to them. Again, these features are to be unveiled in three updates over the next year. The technology is new, so I anticipate some bugs and learning curves associated with these new applications, just like any new software. All in all, I feel like the summit has given me more direction on where the industry is heading, ways we can utilize what is being developed, and what I need to improve upon as a GIS user and developer.  I also feel that this summit has been a good start to putting us on the map (no pun intended) in the conservation GIS world. Get excited.”

-Charlie Mix

NCCC GIS Analyst





Back to Field Notes ⟵