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Check back with us this afternoon for the afternoon session at 2:00 p.m. where we will have special presentations from Tom Crowther of Crowther Labs in ETH Zürich, Felix Finkbeiner from the Plant-for-the-Planet Initiative, James and Deborah Fallows, and our Keynote - Juan Enriquez.

What's Next Road Map


We've also provided you with the Whats Next GIS Road Map. This beautifully colored graphic offers a hand-drawn detailed description of What's Next.


Get the highlights from this morning's sessions:

Live from the 2018 User Conference Plenary: Morning Session

Live from the 2018 User Conference Plenary: Morning Session Part 2 

Table of contents

2:00 p.m. - Jack Dangermond visits E.O. Wilson at Harvard University


The final plenary session begins with an opening video of an interview between Jack Dangermond and E.O. Wilson.


Jack asks Ed Wilson, "What do you think about the future?"

Ed responds, "I am an optimist. But, I think I was born that way." 


Written by Matt Ball

When thinking about “what’s next” the status of our natural world is a priority for Esri’s founder and president Jack Dangermond. He took a trip to Harvard to meet with his old friend E.O. Wilson, the celebrated author and myrmecologist (ant expert) who gave the keynote address at this conference in 1994. He simply asked, “what should be next?” in order to create a more sustainable planet. Wilson replied that biodiversity should be the focus as we’re facing a great loss, a twin crisis to that of climate change.


“Climate change, we can reverse that, but we can’t reverse the loss of three-quarters of the species on the Earth,” Wilson said.


Dangermond suggests an ecological infrastructure of protected places, echoing Wilson’s feeling that a lot of mapping is needed to know where the maximum areas of biodiversity exist. Wilson has been involved in a movement called Half Earth, which strives to save half of the Earth’s land and sea in protected areas in order to preserve the bulk of biodiversity. Eighty percent of the species are still unknown on the planet and the Half Earth effort could save 85 percent of our planet’s biodiversity. Knowing where these species are could be captured by creating an ecological spatial database.


“We’re moving from the 15th-century geography of discovering things and where they are, and changing it into a digitized system of thinking,” Wilson said. “It’s a whole new world.”


Dangermond envisions a future of digital explorers that will build models of how the ecosystems work or make decisions about where to conserve. It’s going to require a boots-on-the-ground effort of engaged citizen scientists.


“GIS people have a huge part to play in taking aggressive action to protect the natural world,” Dangermond says.


2:05 p.m. Welcome Back!


The Crowther Lab at ETH Zürich: Ecosystem Science for

Effective Global Restoration

Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere

Speaker: Tom Crowther, Professor of Global ecosystem Ecology at ETH Zürich

Jack welcomes the audience back from lunch. We are committed to working with conservation and moving forward. He introduces the next speaker, Tom Crowther from the Crowther Lab at ETH Zürich takes us on a digital presentation with a call to action to the GIS community, and the world, to learn and understand the importance of biodiversity. Global ecological restoration is the key to fight the impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss, and rural poverty.


Atmosphere of carbon monoxideThe map to the right shows the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere during the winter months (in red) in comparison to the Spring when trees are in full bloom (in blue).


It is estimated that only 3% of the trees in the world make it to maturity. What we need to know is which soils these trees need to grow and survive.


Below the canopy's surface, below the trees and deeper down into the soil, there is a whole ecosystem that helps grow trees, grow vegetation, and understanding this ecosystem allows us to understand these ecosystems effectively we have room for another 1.2 trillion trees. 

Forest Reflectance of Trees on the Globe


For decades, soil scientists have been taking samples of the species in the soil. We know so little about this ecosystem, but what we learned is that the soil compositions are home to billions of nematodes.


We did our research to find out why some areas have more nematodes, and others have less.


Nematode analysis


With a new perspective on the diversity of the soil samples, we now know that planting a diversity of tree species has a positive impact compared to planting only the single and fastest growing tree species.


Jack chats with Tom briefly, "As a landscape architect, I always viewed the world as my garden." He thanks Tom for being here.


2:15 p.m. - The Trillion Tree Campaign 

Plant-for-the-Planet Initiative

Speaker: Felix Finkbeiner

Opening with a video of Felix Finkbeiner's inspiring words about the climate crisis.


Wangari Maathai (1940-2011), the founder of the Green Belt Movement, started the first movement inspiring the Trillion Tree Campaign and Felix was inspired by her movement.


He encouraged his fellow students to go out into the world and plant trees. He began Plant for the Planet in schools after inspiring his fellow students to plant a tree. And over time, students speaking up for the urgent problem of the climate crisis.


Today, more than 15 billion trees have been planted across the world as the movement spreads and support continues to grow.


Where do we go from here? How many trees exist in the world? And how many trees can we plant?

He asked lots of scientists and no one had an answer until he met with Tom Crowthers. He relayed that we have 3 trillion trees in the world and can still plant 1.2 trillion more.

Yucatan tree planting

When he visited the Yucatan Peninsula to find out why so much of the forest was disappearing. Today, they employ 100 employees that plant 6,000 trees a day at a cost of just 1 Euro a year to plant the trees. Many of the trees planted are funded by companies that want to be carbon neutral. May be able to plant 100-million trees in Mexico by 2020.


We want to make it as easy and as fun as possible for anyone to plant trees or get involved with planting trees. They created an app that is live today.


Trillion Tree Campaign AppWith this app, you can record the trees you plant and if you can't plant trees, you can donate for the cause. You can track other countries to see how many trees they are planting. You can see what others are doing and follow them as well as gift them a tree to help them reach their target goal for trees.


Written by Matt Ball

When Felix Finkbeiner was nine years old his teacher asked him to give a presentation about climate change. He learned of Wangari Maathai who planted a million trees and urged his class to plant trees. Other students loved the idea, and they soon planted their first tree. An early website was created with a simple comparison of what school planted the most trees. Soon schools competed and they achieved the goal of a million trees planted in Germany, and scaled it to other countries. Today, there are 15Billion trees planted.


When we plant TREES we plant the seeds of #peace and seeds of #hope.

- Wangari Maathai


We had added questions. How many trees are there in the world? Scientists couldn’t answer, until we met Tom Crowther who started a three-year research project. He came back with the answers that there are three trillions trees exist and we have room for a trillion more.


Plant-for-the-Planet now has taken charge of 22,000 hectares, and employ 100 people planting trees in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. People have said that paying for a trillion trees isn’t possible. However, Plant-for-the-Planet has reduced the cost of planting each tree to just 1 Euro per planted tree.


To reach the goal of reaching a trillion trees will require much more. To make it easier to plant trees we created a simple app (using ArcGIS) that goes live today. My personal goal is to plant 1000 trees. If I’m planting trees I can register my trees, their species and location.


It starts today with the Yucatan Reforestation project and will grow to other restoration projects. The app lets us see the 3 trillion trees and where more than a trillion can be planted. A leaderboard helps to promote those that are planting the most.


Jack Dangermond of Esri has pledged to make the conference carbon neutral by taking the data on where people have traveled from and calculating the offset. The calculation amounts to 60,000 trees.

2:33 p.m. - Our Towns – A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America

Speakers: James and Deborah Fallows


What's next for the planet and many of our societies brings lots of challenges. We are all responsible for the challenges. We want to leave you feeling inspired by what's next when you leave here. They share a story map of Our TOwns: Renewal from the Ground Up.

James and Deborah Fallows


blue-collar to white-collar jobsWe see shifts in blue-collar to white-collar manufacturing jobs, poverty shifts, drug poisoning from opioids. What surprised them is the increase in advanced higher-learning across the U.S. and the role that community colleges are providing new opportunities for those seeking to advance their education or careers. And last slide James shares is how the refugee arrivals are the U.S. is declining. 


Deborah follows James with a description of the changes in Greenville, South Carolina as the city improves education, jobs, partnerships, infrastructure.



She continues to share a story of poverty in Erie, Pennsylvania. In a collaborative partnership, the town of Erie, Pennsylvania is growing, prospering, and increasing in tourism, cultures, businesses, and growth in the city. 


James shares the history of the NRA as not gun activists, but as people who believed in reforming their cities, progressive in change for the better. He leaves with a message from the NRA motto, "We do our part" as a message to all to do our part to change the world.


Written by Matt Ball

Our Towns–A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America


For the last five years, James and Deborah Fallows have been traveling across America in a single-engine prop plane visiting dozens of towns and interviewing hundreds of civic leaders, entrepreneurs, city workers, educators, students, librarians, immigrants, artists, environmentalists, and craft brewers. The focus of this work is decidedly progressive in that it focuses on those that are forging economic and social progress in their localities.


The project kicked off five years ago on the Esri UC stage, with a discussion of what we could discover about our country. The book often compares divergent cities, such as Greenville, South Carolina versus Burlington, Vermont. The focus is on cities that have momentum.


Geographers that deploy the science of geography with Esri software would call this approach field research— "the systematic observation and collection of otherwise unavailable (primary) data." They set out to document trends and uncover the stories of progress.


They came away with some overriding ideas about what works. Aspects of the educational system, specifically the role of community colleges to help those looking for new opportunities, stood out as a positive force. Refugee arrivals across the country also stood out. Many up-and-coming cities have specialized in accommodating first-generation immigrants.


Greenville, South Carolina surprised them, with its transformation from the textile trade and the resurgence of the downtown. It’s now an economically vibrant city with advanced manufacturing for BMW, Michelin, and GE. The local schools are celebrated with an elementary school focused on engineering. The falls of the Reedy River has been liberated from a highway overpass and have become a favorite gathering place.


Erie, Pennsylvania was a manufacturing hub, and has seen decline including the demise of the GE locomotive plant and the loss of 10,000 jobs. A group of residents rewrote the down-and-out story, and now there are tech startups and startups. The downtown has added a number of amenities, including a number of craft breweries. The population is 10 percent refugees.


We have a similar inspiration and a charge to inspire what’s next.

2:53 p.m. Making a Difference Award

Jack presents the Making-A-Difference award to two teachers who have worked together for the last 8-years in Boyle Heights, California to inspire students to learn GIS, create projects that map out stories of their communities.


Congratulations to two amazing educators, Alice Im and Mariana Ramirez!


Students share the results of their findings at Esri. These students continue to share their results to advocate for their communities, for improvement and change, changing the lives of the students and their community.


Jack shares a video to explain why he is giving the teachers an award today. Students 


Making a difference award winners


AudienceAfter the video, the audience gives a roar of cheers. With tears of joy, both Alice and Mariana share their thanks for the partnership with Jack and Esri and what they desire. 


Jack thanks both for being here and the audience gives them a standing ovation. Jack asks them to return to the stage once more. 




3:05 p.m. Evolving Ourselves - Redesigning the Future of Humanity

Keynote Speaker, Juan Enriquez, Managing Director at Excel Venture Management

The language of the world is changing. It began as hieroglyphics and evolved over centuries as cultures learned to write and create alphabets. Today, our alphabet is continuing to evolve as the world of digital code expands our alphabet and our ability to communicate through 1s and 0s. 


Small changes in code have an impact on the message whether it is digital code or DNA. 

"All life is Code." 


“If life is code, we can read code, copy code, edit code—and it will change the world.” ~ Juan Enriquez


All life is Code


The code of Life Sciences is what is pushing mapping, pushing AI, pushing high-end mapping. Flipping the logic of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution driven by humans becomes an un-natural selection. We are deciding what lives and dies, what is non-random mutation. 


"We are entering an era of intelligent design."


As humans, we can make programmable life forms, can make almost anything. We are beginning to integrate technology with creating life. We are getting to a point in time where we can take the code in each of ourselves and make copies of ourselves. We already do this when our cells make new teeth, grow bones, new skin. And as we continue to learn how to make code, we can make anything, except for the brain. Dr. Mary Lou Jepson - Brain Mapping


The cutting edge of map-making will be when we can map the human brain. Dr. Mary Lou Jepson, inspired by her own brain tumor, decided to learn just how to map the brain and with the support and vision of Openwater, she is currently in the process of building a non-invasive lab size prototype for mapping the brain. 


3:35 p.m. Closing

Jack thanks the audience and invites everyone to the Map Gallery.

And we're back with the Customer Advocacy team sharing their comments below! If you missed the morning session, you could read the highlights Live from the 2018 User Conference Plenary: Morning Session.

10:55 a.m. - Act II – Opening Video 

Bernie Szukalski and Shannon Kalisky introduce Jennifer Bell for ArcGIS Online.


11:01 a.m. - ArcGIS Online

Speaker: Jennifer Bell


Jennifer begins with a demonstration of the power plants across the globe and uses clustering to show the different types of clustering between hydro plants and solar power plants in the United States and hydro, wind, and coal plants in Asia.


Power Plants map

Using the ArcGIS Online tools and features, she continues the demo moving to a map of the Human Footprint Index to display more developed areas in comparison to less developed areas.


Smart Mapping provides numerous multi-variate drawing styles


Jennifer Bell - Smart Mapping relationship drawingUsing the Relationship drawing style, she demonstrates how this style evaluates two attributes to help explore relationships between attributes, in this case, comparing the level of development to the number of threatened species and showing where both values are high and low for human development that threatens other species of life.





Smart Mapping in 3DShe moves on to tell the story using the Edges feature in ArcGIS Online for 3D Smart Mapping of the New York City Energy Score. Here she shows the grade that every building receives that represents how energy efficient it is.



11:12 a.m. - Enterprise GIS – Inspiring a New Era of Problem Solvers with Location Intelligence

Company: Cobb County Government

Speakers:  Sharon Stanley, Felicia Alingu, Lynn Biggs, Jennifer Lana, and Lt. J.D. Lorens - Cobb P.D.


Bern introduces Sharon Stanley and her team of innovators. Sharon Stanley opens with explaining the ways Cobb County uses GIS. Sharon provides a demonstration of a map created by an Intern. The intern created a map of tour routes beginning with Distillery Tour. This map got executives excited and more engaged in GIS mapping. This started a dialogue between executives when they saw how the capabilities of mapping tourism sites could benefit Cobb County.


Cobb County Senior Centers ActivityFelicia Alingu presents a demonstration of how she uses ArcGIS Online to create maps to evaluate Cobb Senior Service Multipurpose Centers including data that tells which centers are visited the most, what programs they offer and which programs are the most active. The most popular engagement activities include Bingo and an event about Patsy Cline. 


Lynn Biggs explains how Cobb County’s Department of Transportation uses GIS to develop an application for the Cobb citizens on the move, providing accurate, up-to-the-minute transportation updates. They demonstrate the use of this app by checking on the traffic. They can see traffic camera shots, check the traffic speed, and deter drivers from areas under construction to mitigate traffic congestion.


They developed a Waze Connected Citizen Partnership a year ago allowing them to share authoritative information about road status closure due to construction road closures.


Using ArcGIS Pro Forest classification and regression tools, Cobb DOT could collect crash data and analyze a hypothesis that specific types of crashes were more likely to occur on roads that are curvy, hilly or both.


The table created shows their hypothesis was correct. Slopes and curves are the top two contributing factors in fixed object crash with utility poles, trees, guardrails, etc.


Cobb Commute AppIn the Office Traffic Report
Cobb Commute AppCobb Commute Traffic

Austell Road and Windy Hill to the County Services Parkway.

Cobb Accident Reports Variables


Jennifer Lana, Cobb GIS manager, demonstrates how they analyzed their crash theory for fixed object crashes.

 Cobb Sun Trust Stadium Digital Twins

Lt. J.D. Lorens asked the GIS team to help with a problem they were having with traffic at a major interstate for pedestrian crossing. He was able to use the dashboard and GIS mapping to analyze traffic patterns before and after games. He was then able to teach his officers how to predict and plan for pedestrian and vehicle traffic when there are games at the stadium. 


Cobb Police Department Use of ArcGIS Urban


11:22 a.m. - ArcGIS Pro Editing and 3D

Speaker: Madeline Schueren


Bern introduces Madeline.


Sprouts Shopping CenterMadeline explains how using tools in ArcGIS Pro 2.2 can help proactively manage changes in population growth, traffic patterns and developing construction with a map demonstration of a construction site for a new commercial center in Redlands, CA. In only 5-minutes she adds labels to buildings, parking spaces, building layers, and depth to the building’s doors and ventilation systems to create a 3D model of the building. "Editing in 3D has never been easier with ArcGIS Pro 2.2."


Sprouts Shopping Center complete


11:28 a.m. - Enterprise Sites

Speaker: Shannon Kalisky


Shannon thanks Bern for his introduction and launches her presentation with a Portal developed for the city of San Antonio. We've added a new capability with ArcGIS 10.1 to allow you to enhance your existing portal called Enterprise Sites. This provides content, important information at the user's fingertips.

San Antonio Fire Department Sites Demo

She demonstrates how quick and easy it is to create a portal site for the San Antonio Fire Department without having to do or know web code. In only 5-minutes she creates adds groups that can access the new site. She then adds widgets with web map for calls, dashboards, service data and categories.


11:35 a.m. - ArcGIS Pro - Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Speakers: Rohit Singh, Esri and Chris Buscaglia, Esri


Deep LearningRohit, thanks Bern and gives an example demonstration for detecting swimming pools using infrared imaging to develop training data and object detection to create the training model that provides information of what properties have swimming pools. Deep learning of this kind can also be used to detect neglected pools that are at risk for mosquito breeding.


Chris takes us on a trip to New Orleans with visuals of blighted properties since before Hurricane Katrina. Images captured by city contractors from the street level.

 Blight Areas in New Orleans

Using AI with the NEW Property Condition Survey and ArcGIS Pro, he can identify a neighborhood in New Orleans that has not been classified with blight categories. Integrating with the training key in Microsoft Custom Vision, using out-of-the-box training photos focused on graffiti, boarded windows, and overgrown yards, the AI can be trained with a blight model in Custom Vision, classifying these images with resulting layers that can be used in ArcGIS. 

Looking at these specific properties shows the overall blight probability score, more effectively prioritizing neighborhoods needing assessments. In under one minute, Chris is able to classify 600 properties for less than one dollar by using ArcGIS and AI together to solve difficult problems to understand a variety of neighborhood conditions.


Written by Matt Ball, Esri Staff Writer

Using deep learning workflows, Rohit Singh demonstrated the automatic detection of swimming pools in residential areas in a city. Using ArcGIS Pro with NAIP imagery from the Living Atlas he began by labeling sample pools. Then this training sample data integrates with Jupyter Notebook and the ArcGIS API for Python to integrate with PyTorch and the FastAI library to train an object detection model. The model helps find the pools across the entire city. Analysis tools from ArcGIS online allow us to join the pools to parcels. Next, we look at the properties that haven’t recorded pools in the assessor’s database, helping the city generate a report with properties that need to be field verified.


Chris Buscaglia showed the identification of areas of blight in New Orleans, detecting graffiti, boarded windows, and overgrown yards. The result showed buildings that needed further field verification. Instead of taking hundreds of hours, he was able to classify hundreds of photos in minutes.


11:40 a.m. - Restoring New York City’s Lower Catskill Aqueduct with GIS & BIM

Company: Mott MacDonald

Speakers: Cory Dippold and Anthony Renteria

Written by Matt Ball

Cory Dippold and Anthony Renteria from Mott MacDonald showcased the integration of GIS and BIM for the planned maintenance of the Lower Catskill Aqueduct.


New York City’s water supply system starts well above the city in the watersheds that feed reservoirs managed by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). 500 million gallons of water flows each day through aqueducts that run over 120 miles. The last twelve miles of the Catskill Aqueduct, which is more than 120 years old, has been targeted for repair. Cracks and weathering in this segment, known as the Lower Catskill Aqueduct, will be repaired over a ten-year span.


The project is born digital with the creation of a digital twin. Mott MacDonald has surveyed the aqueduct’s subsurface and surface using LiDAR scanning to capture the details of the aqueduct. Existing conditions are loaded into ArcGIS Online along with original contracting documents from 1911. The process detailed known assets for engineering evaluations, and it also discovered some unknown assets, such as manhole access points that were covered over by vegetation in the ensuing years. Porting all the information to ArcGIS Online made it easy to share with DEP, and this sharing will be ongoing throughout the maintenance process, providing visibility into the progress and performance of the job.


There’s a whole building information modeling (BIM) aspect to this project. The project context model is created in Autodesk InfraWorks with full asset information that aligns with the LiDAR data and satellite imagery. The data was imported into Autodesk InfraWorks to provide a project context model.


The BIM model is created in Autodesk Revit. The digital model is imported back to InfraWorks to create the context model. Now, for the first time, they can pull the Revit model into ArcGIS with a full-fidelity transfer. The model can be orbited and explored, looking at features both above and below grade.


New tools in ArcGIS Online allow Mott MacDonald to slice the GIS model and reveal the detailed BIM model below ground. These new tools allow the users to section and cut through the model like never before, removing the GIS data to reveal the planimetric data for a view of the engineering-grade model within GIS.


A small section of the aqueduct that’s no longer in use allowed Mott MacDonald to test the use of LiDAR to create a reality capture of the interior of the aqueduct. This information was loaded into GIS to examine defects and to quantify cracks and spalls to be sent to the contractors to repair them. This detailed information will help the contractor to expedite repairs while providing a database of all the defects to create a contractor job package.


Bringing the GIS and BIM data together, allows you to further explore the model. A single environment to navigate around the project. It allows those that aren’t practitioners of BIM or GIS to explore the engineering-grade model.


"Welcome to the new Workflow at Mott MacDonald." ~ Cory Dippold


11:49 a.m. - ArcGIS Utility Network Management

Speakers: Remi Myers, Esri and Sarayana Kesavan, Esri


In a collaborative demonstration, Remi and Saranya show a Basemap using the ArcGIS Network Management Solution to help Truckee Donner Public Utility District deliver electric power and water to nearly 25,000 customers in northern California.


Remi describes how ArcGIS is used in UtilitiesSarayana zooms into a neighborhood from above seeing electrical and water systems, valves, switches, transformer containment banks, connectivity lines, and how easily she can reconfigure a pole from one location to

another for a road widening project.


Remi explains how hospitals, such as the Tahoe Forest hospital, is served by multiple sources of power to reduce risks of accidents and equipment failure. By expanding the map views to review terrain and historical weather patterns using a historical marker, they can determine that an additional source of power can be routed from a nearby substation to the hospital.


Sarayana and Remi then demonstrate how easily they can map and create a template for power to a golf course and switch it to a 3D model to view potential terrain issues and any risk from the nearby water network.


Wrapping up their demonstration, they show how easily a field user can access the same data from a mobile device using Explorer.


Additional GeoNet resources:

Electric and Gas

Water Utilities


11:53 a.m. - Location Tracking

Speaker: Craig Gillgrass


Craig uses a location tracking the app to configure his profile for tracking when he is only working and turns off the tracking when he is off the clock.

11:58 a.m. - ArcGIS Indoors

Speaker: Madeline Schueren and Adrien Meriaux (demonstration)


Madeline gives a sneak peek into three mobile applications that are coming later this year.


The first new native app being released later in 2018 is ArcGIS Indoors. The demonstration of the day-in-the-life of an LAX gate agent, ArcGIS Indoors will bring efficiency to workflows by allowing users to look at facilities maps that include locations, routes, scheduling, detailed information, and help an employee such as our LAX gate agent to better plan the day and create reports as assignments are completed. 


With assistance from Adrien Meriaux, She continues to demonstrate the ArcGIS Runtime AR/VR Beta app on a mobile device. Selecting the orange dot in the map locks the location and a model of LAX pops up. When you move to the mobile device, the map moves with you.


Mobile View of LAX3D Street View
LAX mobile appLAX Street View


The first new native app being released later in 2018 is ArcGIS Indoors. The demonstration of the day-in-the-life of an LAX gate agent, ArcGIS Indoors will bring efficiency to workflows by allowing users to look at facilities maps that include locations, routes, scheduling, detailed information, and help an employee such as our LAX gate agent to better plan the day and create reports as assignments are completed. 


With assistance from Adrien Meriaux, She continues to demonstrate the ArcGIS Runtime AR/VR Beta app on a mobile device. Selecting the orange dot in the map locks the location and a model of LAX pops up. When you move to the mobile device, the map moves with you.


“Navigating this 3D environment in AR is easy & natural.” ~ Madeline Schueren


12:03 a.m. - U-Spatial—Advancing Spatial Science and the Workforce of Tomorrow

Company: University of Minnesota (UMN)

Speakers: Len Kne, Coleman Shepard, Kevin Erhman-Solberg, Somayeh Dodge, and Tom Fisher


Len Kne opens with, “We are a spatial university,” and a map showing where GIS is located on the University of Minnesota campus. The entire campus uses GIS and often through ArcGIS Online for a variety of reasons, all focused on accomplishing the university’s mission: teaching, research, and outreach. Len continues to explain how the Enterprise GIS department supports the campus infrastructure for public safety, land care, building maintenance, and construction. The University now has 6,300 students, faculty and staff with named user account on ArcGIS Online. 

Student license at UMN


In collaboration with The Ohio State University Byrd Polar & Climate Research Center, they plan to release a new DEM at 8 m spatial resolution that will be free and open to the public.


The charge for U-Spatial and everyone in higher education is to:

  • Develop the GIS workforce of tomorrow,
  • Ensure that everyone in the workforce is thinking spatially, and
  • Advance the spatial sciences.

The future generation of GIS professionals will continue expanding these skill sets, as they maximize

creative problem-solving skills.


Len introduces Coleman Shepard and his current project to gain a deeper understanding of the activity happening right now with the eruption of Kilauea.


Coleman demonstrates the use of ArcGIS Pro 2D for earthquake analysis. More than 16,000 earthquakes have rumbled Kilauea since the start of the eruption. He conducted multi-variate clustering using K-means to cluster the earthquakes based on 4-dimensions revealing three distinct clusters representing zones of Kilauea.


Using ArcGIS 3D capabilities Coleman visualizes the depth of the seismic activity by cluster and over time was able to see the number of earthquakes near the volcano continuing to increase.

Kilaeua clustersKilaeua earthquake clusters
Kilaeua earthquake clusters 3D below surfaceKilaeua earthquake clusters collapse



He wanted to know more so he extracted publicly available data of geodetic stations to measure the displacement of geodetic markers over time using Python in Jupyter Notebook. He was able to indicate the eventual collapse of the crater.


Coleman introduces Kevin Ehrman-Solberg, Ph. D. student in the Geography, Environment and Society department at the University of Minnesota. He is also the co-founder of the Mapping Prejudice Project creating a spatial database of racial covenants in Hennepin County.


Kevin explains the meaning behind the racial covenants as lines of text in warranty deeds for real estate. Using OCR to translate historic property records into searchable text documents, they can parse the text files using Python to flag deeds containing racial language.

 Mapping Prejudice

The flagged documents are then uploaded to Zooniverse to enter the attribute information necessary to build the map. This information is exported to JSON and joined with a spatial layer in ArcGIS Pro flagging over 30,000 deeds and mapping more than 15,000. The blue dots denote a property parcel in Hennepin County exclusively reserved for “white” Americans.


With historical census data and these maps, they can see the racial segregation of real estate in the Minneapolis area. These maps powerfully demonstrate how GIS can change our understanding of the world we live in.


University of Minnesota - Albatross patternsFollowing Kevin’s presentation, Somayeh introduces the study of movement (human and animal movement) predicting changes in the behavior of individuals in natural and human systems.


Somayeh tells how UMN is using GPS enabled data tracking to track the migratory behavior of the albatross and how the albatross use the wind patterns and chlorophyll concentrations to know exactly where the ocean productivity is highest near Peru.  Maps in Motion help scientists to better understand and develop the hypothesis of tiger behaviors.

University of Minnesota - Tiger patterns

"By advancing our knowledge of movement, we can develop better strategies to protect wildlife populations, and prevent human-wildlife conflicts., ” expresses Someyah.


Tom Fisher begins with a history lesson describing how as a human society we spent most of our history living nomadically, moving from place to place. It is only a fragment of our history that we have become permanent settlers living in fixed structures and infrastructures that can be mapped.


He continues to explain that once more, our society is becoming nomadic because of the ability to freely travel, use mobile devices, spatial tools, and digital apps too, access what we need when we need it while paying for only what we use without having to own it.”


Companies offering short-term services such as Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, Lending Club, Task Rabbit, and others have prospered by offering convenience, lower prices, and increased efficiency.


With a call to action, Tom expresses that GIS Professionals have a leadership role to play in the transformation of an economy that demands spatial thinking and locational skills. With the growth of a sharing economy, a need for spatial analysts, geo-designers, and the GIS community’s creative use of spatial thinking in boardrooms, council chambers, and corner offices.  “Ours is a leadership role that we owe the customers and citizens we serve – and that we owe to ourselves.” 



Stay tuned for Part III of the Live from the 2018 User Conference Plenary: Afternoon Session.