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Guest post by Bill Meehan, Esri Utility Solutions Director


Where were you on August 14, 2003, at 4 p.m. Eastern Time? That’s when much of the northeastern United States was blacked out. No power.
Sweaty office workers got stuck in elevators from Manhattan to Cleveland. Traffic signals died everywhere. Tons of food spoiled. At the time, people were still wary from 9/11.


The culprit for disaster this time? Well there many.  But two of them were rather skinny ailanthus trees that had become a little too big for their britches. They grew too close to the heavily loaded Stuart-Atlanta 345kV transmission line. And when transmission lines carry a lot of power their conductors sag. So as fate would have it, at the worst possible time, the sagged lines came in contact with those two little trees. So the line tripped out. This was one in a series of cascading events – which created one of the largest power failures in the nation’s history.


The 2003 blackout illustrates the devastating impact a transmission failure can have. Most power failures aren’t so devastating, true. That’s because most happen on the lower-voltage distribution lines you see on our city streets. People crash into poles, or ice forms on the lines, and power fails. While these situations cause havoc, they are often localized. When a transmission line fails or is damaged, all **** breaks loose. Talk to Alabama Power, for instance. That team lost a big chunk of their transmission system during a devastating tornado a couple of years ago. It was ****.  Too bad they didn’t have the ArcGIS platform back then.

GIS to the Rescue?

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Modeling Electric Transmission in ArcGIS helps overcome the troublesome three Ts.


People often say that the blackout of 2003 was due to the three “T’s” – trees, technology, and training. Trees grow too big. Technology
fails. And lack of training gets in the way of fixing things.  Today, many transmission utilities have embraced ArcGIS technology to help with the three T’s. GIS has become a critical technology for improving tree, or vegetation management.  But the software helps more, too. Operators, for instance, improve situational awareness. Back in the old days, going back to 2003, control room operators had no easy way to spatially visualize the geographic context of the transmission system. They had only schematic diagrams. With ArcGIS, operators can now see the transmission system in a more meaningful, contextualized way. Adding the spatial view helps operators keep the transmission system healthy and intact.  That’s just the tip of what GIS can do. Want the whole berg?


GIS, Transmission, and You – At the UC


There will be a special focus on electric transmission at Esri International User Conference. Attend an inaugural, pre-conference seminar hosted specifically for electric transmission utilities. Hear from transmission operators sharing their experiences using the ArcGIS platform. Then, during the main conference, you’ll have several opportunities to hear additional users explaining new best practices for electric transmission.


Don’t forget that the conference is a great opportunity to network with your peers. You will meet plenty of folks who have taken advantage
of GIS to improve the operation of their transmission system. Talk to everyone. They will all have unique experiences. In fact, there will be a social on Tuesday of the conference for you to get together. You can tell your stories and listen to your colleague’ stories about the three “T”s and GIS.


Learn more about sessions dedicated specifically to you.  See you at UC!

We are currently updating and it and will be posting shortly!

The People Aspect of Technology


Before we know it, the San Diego Convention Center and surrounding hot spots will be filled with Esri users and staff chatting about maps, apps, cool geo-tools, and innovative ideas for putting them all to creative use. It will be a beautiful thing.


While the managers in attendance will be just as excited as the rest of us, they face a unique challenge. How does one convert creative, tech-fueled ideas into tangible results that benefit the organization?


To start with, executive buy-in is required. Just as important, “people buy-in” is required. People, after all, are an organization’s highest value asset and a manager’s main resource.


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Tech is cool but the people of tech are even cooler.


New technology brings new processes. In order for technology to deliver the desired results, individuals must adopt and successfully adapt to the new processes.


Inconveniently, we humans have a strong tendency to resist change. When this tendency is ignored, small projects and ambitious initiatives alike face substantial risk of failure. Fortunately, managers can overcome resistance by proactively preparing their people for change.


Two complementary technical workshops at this year’s conference will explore proven approaches to addressing the people aspect of technology.


Best Practices for Technology Change Management

Tuesday, 21 Jul 2015,
1:30pm - 2:45pm, Room 31 C


Presented by David Schneider, Esri training consultant, change management evangelist, and self-proclaimed weather geek, this session takes a deep dive into best practices and tips to successfully manage technology-driven change. Dave will alsoshare a change-leadership perspective on how the evolution of the ArcGIS platform provides unprecedented opportunities to engage non-traditional GIS users throughout an organization.


Location-Enabling Your Workforce: You Can with a Plan!

Wednesday, 22 Jul 2015,
1:30pm - 2:45pm, Room 31 C


Co-presented by Esri training consultants Andy Spence and Diane Wagner and Jacob Boyle, GIS manager at Seneca Resources Corporation, this session explores the three-phase workforce development planning process. Jacob will share his experience with workforce development planning, and how it is helping him promote adoption of GIS technology and capabilities throughout his organization.


By directly documenting how an organization’s GIS program aligns with business objectives and strategy, a workforce development plan helps managers earn executive respect and excitement around the technology and the knowledge workers who create, manage, and use it.


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Making sure your people have the knowledge and skills they need to be successful is key when rolling out new tech.


A workforce development plan is also a valuable change-management tool. Because the plan demonstrates executive commitment to supporting individual success through training and professional development, staff feel more confident and motivated to perform at a high level.


Last but not least, a workforce development plan helps managers feel confident their workforce is prepared to deliver tangible results using the amazing technology coming soon to a device near you.




When we say the Esri UC is the place to come and learn about technology - we aren't kidding. You can choose from almost 1000 sessions and if your brain still has room - dabble in all sorts of new experiences in the GIS Solutions EXPO.


One of the best places to stop is Esri's Hands-on Learning Lab. Here you will find free training open to all conference attendees who want to explore ArcGIS workflows and applications. FREE. And there is no limit. You can choose from more than 20  45-minute self-paced lessons on desktop, server, and online topics. Each lesson includes a video lecture and a hands-on software exercise.


Make sure you leave room in your schedule to get some free training at the Esri UC. More than 20 45 minute guided sessions await you in San Diego.


And if that isn't enough to get you excited, visitors to the Hands-on Learning Lab can enter a drawing for one of three Esri Technical Certification Exam Vouchers during the course of the week!


Are you big into ArcGIS, and want to see what ArcGIS Pro is all about? Attend a session. Using ArcGIS online and want to know more about the ArcGIS Platform? Attend a session. Looking to explore how to use CAD data in your GIS projects? Attend,.. well you get the drill.


Stop by anytime during Esri Showcase hours, no registration is required. Esri instructors will be available to answer your questions.


Lesson topics include the following:


  • Getting Started with GIS 1: Understanding the ArcGIS Platform
  • Getting Started with GIS 2: Using ArcMAP™ to Explore GIS Data
  • Getting to Know ArcGIS® Pro
  • Advantages to Storing Your GIS Data in the Geodatabase
  • Creating Presentation Quality Maps in ArcMap
  • Editing GIS Data in ArcMap
  • Multi-user Editing Using Versioning
  • Editing and Maintaining Parcels Stored in a Parcel Fabric
  • Geocoding Street Addresses to Create Map Points
  • Importing and Preparing CAD Data for Use in ArcGIS
  • The Importance of Spatial Reference in Tactical Applications
  • Exploring Health and Epidemic Patterns Using Spatial Statistics
  • Optimizing Transportation Routes Using ArcGIS® Network
  • Modeling Time and Distance Along Networks Using Linear Referencing
  • Working with Geometric Networks to Manage Utilities
  • Interpolating Sample Points to Create Rasters Using Spatial
    Analyst Tools
  • Geoprocessing GIS Data Using Python
  • Sharing Maps and GIS Content Using ArcGISOnline
  • Understanding Web Services Using ArcGIS® for Server
  • Generating Web Applications for the GIS Novice
  • Getting Started with the Community Maps Data Preparation Tools
  • Mapping Excel Data Using Esri® Maps for Office®


The Hands-On Learning Lab will be located in the GIS Solutions EXPO (Halls B, C and D).


Hours are:  Tuesday, July 21 from 9:00am- 6:00pm; Wednesday, July 22 from 9:00am-6:00pm; and Thursday, July 23 from 9:00am-1:30pm.


What's in it for you?


Esri is dedicated to ensuring you get the most out of your GIS. Throughout 2014, Esri offered the Hands on Learning Lab at 32 different Esri conferences and tradeshows where Esri hosted a booth, offering 4300 lessons where 2300 attendees received training.


Kevin Mumford has been managing the lab for the past six years and says that users always  find the sessions useful. He shared a follow up email from a past student, who learned about making web maps in one of the sessions:


"The classes  were definitely helpful for a GIS consultant as we are expected to be well informed about all Esri extensions. It was great to experience the latest products released. I created a web map in two hours over the weekend."


What can you expect to get out of these sessions?


If you are an analyst, you can expand your existing skills in familiar areas and evaluate other areas of Esri's software solutions. You can try newly released Esri products and solutions to see if they meet your requirements. Many analysts find that the notion of 'free Esri training" helps support their justification for attending the conference.


Managers shouldn't be afraid - even if you don't work with GIS every day! This is a great way to get exposure to Esri's solutions and evaluate the applicability of Esri products for your organization. It also gives you exposure to Esri's variety of training options so you can see what best suits your organization and staff needs.


And here is a tip - yes, these sessions are popular! Through the years, we've found that a reservation system doesn't really work - there are just so many opportunities at the UC.  We all experience that 'UC conference time warp' and get lost in the moment. Instead, the lab is increasing the number of machines and lab staff suggest that the best times to visit the lab are the first day it opens, first thing in the morning, during lunch and at the half-way point during sessions.


Get on your thinking caps! See you at the Esri UC!

When your organization depends on geographic information system for its day-to-day operation, data errors can introduce unacceptable risk and unplanned costs.

Beginning at the 2011 Esri International User Conference in San Diego, Esri provided customers an opportunity to see just how clean their data really is. Since then, the Data Health Checks, as they are called, have become a staple service at every User Conference

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Esri users take advantage of the Data Health Check at the 2014 Esri UC, sitting down with Esri staff to check the quality of their data.

At first, only eleven water/wastewater customers signed up for this service at the 2011 UC. Since then, Data Health Checks have become so popular that it was expanded to five industries supporting more than seventy users at the most recent 2014 UC. Data Health Checks are now offered at other Esri-sponsored conferences including the Esri Electric & Gas GIS Conference, Pacific User Group and other regional conferences.

Participating in the Data Health Check is as easy as bringing a sample of your data in either a file or personal geodatabase to the conference. During your session, an Esri industry expert performs a diagnostic on your data using the ArcGIS Data Reviewer extension to assess its overall quality.

Esri staff explains the key data checks (see example checks for water and electric) and any errors detected are reviewed with the user. The error features (captured in a separate geodatabase) and an Excel report outlining the accuracy rates of your data will be provided to you to take back to your organization for additional review.

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Running the ArcGIS Data Reviewer through its paces on an electric utility database,  checking for devices not connected to conductors, conductors and bus bars that overlap, and fuses and switches that do not split conductors and bus bars, among other issues.

At the 2015 UC, Esri is offering the Data Health for users in:

  • water/wastewater/stormwater,
  • electric/gas/pipeline,
  • land records/addressing
  • transportation/roads & highways


How to Sign Up


Esri UC showcase located in the San Diego Convention Center


Tuesday, July 21, 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

  Wednesday, July 22, 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

  Thursday, July 23, 9:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Sign Up:

E-mail with the
  following information:

  • Name
  • Organization
  • Contact information (phone/e-mail)
  • Dataset you're bringing
  • Preferred date/time


The Data Health Check is free, focuses expressly on features/attributes and takes about 45 minutes. Due to time constraints, only a subset of checks is performed during the session. When deployed for production, Data Reviewer can be configured to more thoroughly validate
all of the organization’s data quality business rules. Customers may choose to implement the rules themselves, work with Esri partners or use Esri Database Services to review and optimize data models, to configure Data Reviewer beyond the checks that were run on their data at the conference and implement workflows for data correction and maintenance. These include the 3-day jumpstart package, RAT/ implementation work as well as training.

The quality of your data is critical. Esri Data Health Checks can improve your GIS program by reducing the errors that create risks and unplanned costs. Sign up now. We'll see you at the Esri UC!

Galen Harry is the Marketing Events Team Lead – On-Site Events at Esri. We didn’t actually sit down for this interview, since Galen is usually running around campus delivering items for onsite meetings and checking on the status of conference rooms. Instead, we laced up our best cross training shoes and tried to keep up as he blanketed the Esri campus.


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Galen Harry is gearing up for the UC!


What is your background?

I graduated from THE University of Texas at Austin. I worked my way through school as a waiter and in retail and then spent twenty years in sales and marketing with Panasonic Consumer Electronics.

You sound like a proud Texan.

I am originally from Waco, Texas, but I’ve also resided in Austin, Houston and Dallas, Texas. Before moving here to Southern California I lived in Georgia, Illinois, and New Jersey.

How did you discover Esri?

I found out about Esri through a friend of a friend. I sent my resume to one of the Event supervisors and was asked to come in for an interview. The rest, as they say, is history.

How long have you been at Esri?

I started my tenth year here at Esri just last year, in November of 2014.

Why do you like maps?

Although I like maps, my job at Esri has more to do with event planning and execution.

Let’s talk about that. What exactly do you do?

My normal job, if there is such a thing, is to manage and coordinate the planning, execution and clean-up of all events that take place here at Esri headquarters in Redlands. I handle everything from simple meetings to full-on conferences and summits. There is one other person on the On-Site team that is instrumental in keeping everything running smoothly. We do everything from setting up rooms and spaces for meetings, conferences, summits, corporate and catering events on-site to planning and managing all the food and beverage events at the UC, excluding the Thursday night party. We also assist with community events including the Redlands Forums and the Annual Redlands Flower Show.

When do you start preparing for the UC?

Right after the previous one ends! I help manage all the food and beverage events so I am always either reporting on what just happened or preparing estimates, menus and logistics for the next year.

What do you like most about the UC?

I think my favorite part of the UC is the Map Gallery Reception. You can really see how GIS applications are changing our world.  The maps are incredible and the special displays tell such great stories about how GIS is used throughout the world.  You just can’t help but to be inspired.

Do you have a funny UC story to share?

Oh boy. My story, which wasn’t so funny at the time, was the first time I announced the Map Gallery Awards at the closing ceremony when the screen went totally black.  I had to improvise for about 3 to 4 minutes.  All of this happened in front of Jack, the Esri Directors and about 2,000 attendees.   It’s funnier now.  At the time however, I was sweating bullets!   I must have done something right because I still get to announce the awards every year.

What is your insider tip for the UC?

My don’t miss tip for attendees is to be sure to visit the Esri Showcase and ask as many questions as you can.  Our staff are the GIS experts and are always ready to help.

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We are ready to unleash Galen to the Esri UC! See you all there!

As you may know, Jack features many of our users' work during the Esri User Conference Plenary. We are looking for some additional screenshot images of your work for the upcoming User Conference. Here are a few example industries that could be used:


  • Business Analysis and Management
  • Citizen Engagement and Crowdsourcing
  • Portals and Story Maps
  • Preparing for and Responding to Disasters
  • Understanding Human Health
  • Developing Natural Resources
  • Buildings and Campus Management
  • Managing Natural Resources
  • Cartography
  • Public Safety and Security


The conference is only a few weeks away, so submissions need to be done ASAP.


Submitting screenshots are simple through the Image Submission Portal with these basic requirements:


SubjectScreen shots, maps, and non–people photos.

Screen shots—72 dpi or 96 dpi. Set your computer display to the highest resolution.
See Making Screenshots.pdf. [PDF]

Maps—300 dpi when exporting maps from ArcGIS.

Non–people photos—300 dpi preferred.

DimensionsTIFF, JPEG, and PNG files also accepted.
Please avoid images embedded in PowerPoint and Word files.

Note: More information can be found on the Image Submission Portal.

Presentation Success: It’s All About Preparation


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Get some help on your UC presentation, including coaching from Esri Instructors.


Are you presenting a paper session or technical workshop at this year’s Esri UC? Are you excited to share your work? Or, like a lot of people, are you feeling a bit nervous about speaking in a room full of people you’ve never met?


Studies show that public  speaking is one of the most common human fears. In fact, some people report being more afraid of public speaking than of dying. As the UC fast approaches, we do hope you’re feeling excited about sharing your work with peers.


But for those of you who may be feeling nervous about your presentation, know that the best way to have a great presenter experience is to be prepared. To help with this, the Speaker Resource Center will be open Monday beginning at noon and runs through Thursday in the San Diego Convention Center. The check-in desk is open at 10:30 beginning on Sunday. You can reserve your time in the Center so you don't miss any of the other amazing activities at the UC.


The center is staffed by an experienced cadre of Esri instructors, who know a thing or two about presentation success since their full-time job is teaching ArcGIS best practices to classrooms full of people they’ve never met. Bring your PowerPoint presentation with you on a laptop or
Flash drive and an instructor will review it—slide by slide—with you. Expect to receive practical feedback on your slides and demos, and learn tips that will help you deliver an engaging session your audience will be glad they attended.


Laptops, printers, computers, and projectors are also available for your use. There’s even a small, private section where you can practice presenting out loud (yes, you need to do this). Practicing your delivery will give you confidence, and having confidence will help you relax
and focus on the fun fact that your audience is really interested to hear what you have to say.


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You - giving the best presentation ever!


We hope your presentation is the highlight of your UC week!