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Mappers everywhere who harness the power of geographic information system (GIS) technology to tell their stories can now enter Esri's Storytelling with Maps Contest. Esri is inviting users to submit their top Esri Story Map projects for a chance at prizes and peer recognition at the largest gathering of GIS software users in the world—the Esri User Conference.


Contest participants can submit up to three preexisting or new maps between now and June 8, 2015.

"We're looking for maps that grab people's attention and make a lasting impression," said Allen Carroll, leader of the Esri Story Map team.

So what makes a good Story Map, especially a winning one? Being imaginative, choosing the proper Story Map app, paying attention to detail, and showcasing a strong interest in the topic, according to several of last year's contest winners and a judge. "If you are passionate about the subject, it can really get the creative juices flowing," said Rupert Essinger, an Esri product engineer who served on the judging panel for the 2014 contest.

Submissions will be judged on a range of factors. Each Story Map selected will combine design, user experience, impact, and overall creativity with an interesting and engaging story.


Esri will award first-, second-, and third-place prizes in five categories:

  • Travel/Destinations/Recreation
  • Infrastructure/Planning/Government
  • Science/Technology/Education
  • Culture/History/Events
  • Conservation/Environment/Sustainability


One grand prize will be awarded to the best overall Story Map entry, as determined by the contest judges. Here are the prizes:

  • Grand Prize/Best Overall: A one-year ArcGIS Online subscription for five users plus a plaque and a certificate
  • First Prize: A GoPro camera plus a plaque and a certificate
  • Second Prize: A copy of the Esri Press book Cartographica Extraordinaire: The Historical Map Transformed plus a plaque and a certificate
  • Third Prize: A copy of the Esri Press book Cartographica Extraordinaire: The Historical Map Transformed plus a plaque and a certificate


All entries must make use of one of the Esri Story Map apps. Entries may be hosted in ArcGIS Online or on another server. Contest participants may—and are encouraged to—customize the Story Map apps to suit their needs. Submissions must be received by 5:00 p.m. (PDT) on June 8. Winners and their Story Map entries will be unveiled at the 2015 Esri User Conference.


Enter the contest and get full contest details at Discover more about Esri Story Map apps at

Esri UC has always been about celebrating your GIS accomplishments. And what better way to say congratulations than with a big, fun party? Each year, we end the conference by throwing the largest, mappiest, geogeekiest party in the world.


And this year, we’d like you to pick where we host the Esri UC party!

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Where do you want to celebrate another successful year in GIS with a few thousand of your closest geogeek friends?

Let us know!


We have selected three awesome venues for you to choose from. Click through the choices and discover more about each one. Then, vote for the location you’d
like to party like it’s UC 2015! Do it fast - voting is only open through Friday, April 17.





Last year's party at Balboa Park brought street performers like this juggler.


Near the San Diego Convention Center, Embarcadero North boasts gorgeous views of the marina and Coronado Island. The Embarcadero’s green space makes it perfect for live entertainment, carnival games, and dancing.


Fun Fact: The Embarcadero was the party location for Esri UC’s from 1999-2010   



Bask in the beauty of Balboa’s lush gardens and Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. There’s something for everyone here from fine art to model trains to street performers.


Fun Fact: Metalachi, the world’s first (and only) metal-mariachi band, played Esri UC since 2011. 




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The San Diego Waterfront Park at night.


The San Diego Waterfront Park is ready to party with ample room for a large concert (hint). Located by the USS Midway, the park has a kid’s area, water park, and access to the San Diego Maritime Museum.


Fun Fact: The art deco McCarthy building in the center of the park is where Esri signed its first contract.

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Okay, now you know the three venues! Which do you choose?


Got it? Good! Now, go vote!


United We Party. United We Map!

And it’s something to see!  There are lots of sessions to choose from – 992 actually. You’ll find  something for everyone.



Pull up a comfy seat and sit in on some super sessions!


Introductory sessions to Esri software abound. This is the place to get the most bang for your buck  and get up-to-speed on solutions, whether you are a new user, or an experienced user looking to expand your installation. 


Road Ahead sessions give you the absolute latest scoop on what is planned for the coming year.  Plus, you’ll hear directly from the  development team.


You’ll find sessions geared towards developers; specific industry use from agriculture to wildland fire management; 3D, Web, and Raster  analysis, geocoding, editing and compiling data, and finally, when you are finished toying with your data – how to make a great map.


There are sessions on implementing, installing and configuring ArcGIS. Sit in on topics ranging from Enterprise GIS, Open data, real-time
data and sensors, and how to use every single one of Esri’s solutions and extensions.


Can’t imagine how to use GIS? We’ve got a session for that – ‘Envisioning ArcGIS for your Industry.’ Ten 45-minute sessions are available for
you in the Industry Envisioning Center smack dab in the Industry Showcase.


What are you waiting for? Check out the agenda. Haven’t registered yet? Secure your spot at the biggest Esri user meeting in the world. We can’t wait to see you! United we learn. United we map!

Mansour Raad is a senior software engineer at Esri and Esri’s BigData Advocate. As part of Esri’s development team, he helps users implement Big Data solutions with ArcGIS server. He is also a Cloudera Certificate Hadoop Developer and HBase Specialist. You can  catch Mansour at the Esri UC this July, presenting technical workshops.


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Esri's Mansour Raad - pretending to be shy.


What is your background?


I was born in Lebanon and went to high school in France.  I received my Masters of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Boston University. I’ve been doing GIS since 1987. It’s been so long I can’t even remember the specific version of ArcInfo I first learned!


How many Esri UCs have you attended?


I’ve only missed one since 1995 - when my daughter Caroline was born.


What are some hot topics you and your team will be covering at this year’s UC?


I’ll be covering the topics I am passionate about including BigData ingestion, processing and visualization.


What are you preparing for this year?


Return of Killer Apps with my good friend Sajit Thomas - it is always a crowd pleaser.


Why do you like maps?


Maps are a great way to tell a BigData story.


Aside from your software presentations, what do you look most forward to each year at the


I really love to talk to users and hear their feedback.


When you are aren’t at Esri creating software, what do you most like to do?


I am really into road biking. I have a tradition to bike from Redlands to San Diego for the User Conference with my best friend Russell.
This distance is called a 200 metric century and takes us about seven hours.




Catch Mansour at the Esri UC – register now!