UPDATED: Various errors (spelling, grammar etc..) have been changed since the original was posted

I stayed on the Geo-Futures track throughout, don’t get me wrong there was great choice out there.   I would have been interested in seeing more, but on balance there was more of interest to me on this track.   Last year I did jump around, this year I thought I’d try staying where I was, both approaches worked for me.

The following is quick run-down of what stood out for me, it’s not a review or judgement on anyone’s presentation.   They were all good and very interesting.

  1. “The Transition to a Low Carbon economy” – Emily Martin, ESRI UK – More detail on this subject from day one.   She gave me some interesting ideas that I want to explore further, I love that GIS can help us understand and assess the effectiveness of new technologies.   Whilst giving us real monetary values and pay back times!
  2. “Games and the City”My presentation which you can find out about here.
  3. “GeoDesign: Asset management in the Public Forest Estate” – Tony Farndon, Forestry Commission – I have great respect for anyone that manages forests (call it a family thing). I was interested in their use of 3D visualisation to see what future landscapes would look like with new plantings (I have some ideas about this to…).
  4. “Data in the Public Domain: Is Anyone Ready?”Lisa Thomas, The Coal Authority – As a Durham Postgraduate Alumni, (Geographical Information for Development anyone?) I am aware of subsidence and old mine shafts (the library and much of Durham’s campus is on an old mine!) so I found this quite interesting.  Dramatic pictures aside, there was a valuable point to be made about releasing their data to the public.   As there needs to be a lot of knowledge required to understand some of the implications of the data that they hold.   Personally I think that without educating people, no one is ready for this kind of data.   Her points also linked quite nicely with Steven Feldman’s presentation. Also her interesting insight into the world of INSPIRE was an eye opener for me (being in the private sector) and now I understand why @alexrcoley couldn’t make it (too busy!).
  5. “The OS Road Map” – Dave Russell, Ordnance Survey – Good stuff from the OS (as always really), interesting to hear about where they think the money is, as well as upcoming 3D and other products.
  6. “Open Data – is it like giving a kid an AK47”Steven Feldman, Knowwhere Consulting – I did attend last year’s presentation entitled “Navigating in turbulent waters”.  I’ve not really spoken to him before this year but I certainly have heard of him!   No bad things, of course, but he is one these presenters with a style that you remember.  Personally I wouldn’t call it provocative or controversial but it comes close for some I guess.   This presentation dealt with the question (in my mind at least) of whether OpenData should be open to everyone.   In that, he meant that perhaps only professionals who use a rigorous and professional approach to analysing and publishing data should get to have a go.   I may have paraphrased it a bit, but using the police.uk fiasco as an example of how not to do GIS was a good example.   He also illustrated this with a ‘police crime map’ of where he lives showing a large number of crimes occurring right next to him.  

    But if you don’t understand the context of the data or how it is displayed (and it can’t just be some minor piece of text disclaiming the data) the information is useless. Other than for journalists! I would like to add, that whilst the data is made “anonymous” by a particularly stupid method, the data isn’t very anonymous in areas of smaller populations (or small streets).  Anyway, it was a very good presentation, and you can tell it got my brain working a bit!

  7. “ESRI UK Online services “ – Dave Bayer, ESRI UK – Well I was glad our hosts had technical issues (made me feel better about some of my presentations issues), but I’m glad to see that ESRI is not standing still on the online front.  It’s a shame they couldn’t access the server.  But I’m looking forward to the OS opendata base maps!
  8. “Using new technologies to deliver savings in the Public Sector” – Duncan Hill, Europa Technologies – Interesting look at joined up approaches and integration of cloud mapping services into peoples systems.   My company is not really big enough or doing the right jobs to benefit dramatically from this kind of approach (we’re on a per job basis), having said that someone else does manage our maps on a regular basis, thank you ESRI for including that in ArcGIS 10.
  9. “Real Time GIS” – Charles Kennelly, ESRI UK – The resident DJ (didn’t he play S-Club7 as an opener at last years conference?) also had technical issues, well if you put us far away from anyone else at the conference maybe this will happen!  That didn’t faze him as he whipped out the latest cutting edge technology, pen + paper!   Who knew you could do such things without a battery!   I honestly found it quite refreshing to see a presentation done a flip-chart.   Joking aside, he made some very interesting points about how computing power has come on so far that real-time GIS processing is a reality and that we should be thinking about it now because it is coming.   He also warned against the dangers of focusing attention on the finished mapped product as being the ‘source data’.   He suggested our attentions should be on the process to we used to get to those mapped products.

    He’s right and I think I’d like to talk to him further about this in relation to what I do….

So, I hope that was of some interest to people, it’s one of my longest blog posts but conferences always get me fired up and thinking about new approaches.   Which considering the title of this year’s conference is quite appropriate!

Let me have your feedback, if I’ve missed anyone out or have additional observations or information please leave a comment below.   I will add your thoughts to the appropriate parts of the post as well.


  1. Hi Elliot,

    Whilst finally writing up some notes about the ESRI conference I came across your blog and read it with interest. I too went to Durham for my Masters in ‘Spatial Information Technology’, I’m not sure that your programme was available when I was there and it was the first year for mine (this makes me sound quite old!).

    Anyway, considering my colleagues were unable to attend the conference it is refreshing to hear some thoughts from a fellow GIS professional and from a very personal perspective.

    It was good to meet you at the Conference.

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