This week each year is kind of important for me and those in the geospatial (map making) community. For those who don’t know Esri is a proprietary developer of mapping software which has a huge chunk of the GIS market. Yes there’s plenty of ‘issues’ with Esri as there are with any large software company. But regardless of which software you use to make maps I don’t think it is controversial to say that Esri is a pretty unique and interesting company. They have a huge variety of tools for creating and analysing data with a location element.

The thing with GIS is that it is used across industries and professions. I can go to a GIS conference and meet people doing jobs I have never heard of but be using the same software as them and experiencing similar issues. Unlike other software companies I think Esri genuinely can make you feel as part of a wider mapping community. I’m a planner and 3D urban modeller (using CityEngine) and find a genuine supportive community in the Esri users. Going to San Diego and sitting with 18000+ people in a room who understand what I do is a tremendous feeling.

Anyway the conference is normally held annually now in San Diego (you may have seen me their last year). Obviously this year travel is impossible for many of us so they have switched to a virtual event.

No lanyards required this year

I must say the organisation seems pretty good for a first time and with attendees numbering 80,000 I think this is a bit of an achievement! The good news is that the opening plenary is on YouTube, if you’re interested in mapping in any industry or a student in geography this might be pretty inspiring. Watch Part 1 below and go to their channel for more.

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