This week, I was able to attending the 2016 Esri Federal GIS conference in Washington, D.C. While the vast majority of attendees are professionals who work for the federal government, there is a growing contingent of city, county and state personnel who attend. For the first time this year, my colleagues Anthony Puzzo, Jake Skinner and I hosted an informal session for local government attendees - we had a packed room (even though we were competing with lunch!).
As a Solution Engineer who primarily works with Cities, it was really valuable to hear the feedback provided by attendees regarding what grabbed their attention during Wednesday's plenary. I imagine that what these GIS professionals from city and county government found interesting and valuable might also resonate with many others who were not able to attend, so I wanted to share some of their highlights:
- Esri Insights: An exciting part of Jack's plenary is always seeing what new capabilities he will unveil, and this year there were several! The announcement of a new application called Insights for ArcGIS caught everyone's attention - it offers a new way to perform interactive analysis and visual data exploration. The scenario they demonstrated hit home for me - they used crime data from Philadelphia (I used to work for the Philadelphia Police Department as a GIS Analyst) and showed how Insights provides a flexible way to explore relationships and trends in data. I can imagine getting lost in the app, exploring many different types of data and seeing what I can uncover. Check out this blog post for more information.
- DHS HIFLD Open Data: This was another big announcement of the plenary - and don't let all the acronyms throw you off, this is significant for local governments! To summarize, the HIFLD program under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has managed the collection and distribution of critical infrastructure data (schools, public venues, and much more) - and available now on HIFLD Open, these 250+ datasets are accessible as dynamic web services and downloadable datasets.Andrew Turner shares more on this blog post. This data collection will be really useful to local governments who often ask where they can get data that is important to them, but they might not have developed within our around their jurisdiction. For example, HIFLD Open Data has hurricane evacuation routes (shown here for the City of Baltimore MD and surrounding areas):
- Apps: Throughout the conference, attendees saw many examples of ready-to-use and configurable maps and apps, and appreciated the ease at which it will allow them to deploy meaningful solutions across their organization. Story Maps seemed to stand out - seeing the example shared by the USGS in Wisconsin on flooding inspired GIS professionals from city government that I spoke with to think about how they might be able to apply similar techniques to tell their story on the same topic. While the USGS story map example is not yet publicly available, it used an eye-catching new template called 'Cascade' which will be released later this year. Check out The Uprooted, another story map that uses the same app template
And speaking of apps, Jake and I were also able to walk the group through the latest additions to Esri's suite of mobile applications. We know how significant Collector for ArcGIS has been in growing a department's capabilities to do field data collection, so it was exciting to show off the latest additions to the familywith Navigator for ArcGIS and Workforce for ArcGIS. In addition to showing the capabilities of these new apps, we wanted to make the important point that all of Esri's mobile apps are designed to work together, as shown by this graphic:
All in all, I know that Anthony, Jake and I found it worthwhile to carve out some space during the FedGIS and create a venue (albeit a brief one!) for local government attendees to come together. We also hope this is a new tradition we can start - so if you work for a city or county and attend the FedGIS, please give us your feedback.