Notes from a student who attended ESRI’s Federal User’s conference:
Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency, gave a talk. She discussed “wicked problems”, environmental problems for which there seems to be no easy solution. At the rate of present growth in consumption and population, we will need two planet Earth’s by 2030. She mentioned Eye on Earth, a ‘global public information network for creating and sharing environmentally relevant data and information online through interactive map-based visualizations’, and INSPIRE, an infrastructure for spatial information in Europe to support Community environmental policies.
Jack Dangermond, founder of ESRI, talked about how GIS is moving to the cloud and how Web Maps serve not just as a digital map display also as an interface through which users can access the original data.
The link below takes you to a demonstration of a Web Map being used to track social media in real time in Manhattan. The dots that appear represent the locations of tweets.
Click on a dot and you see the actual textual content of the tweet!
Another demonstrator showed how Search and Rescue (SAR) teams can use GIS to predict the most likely places that a lost person might be found. For example, past experience shows that most people give up walking after three hours (simple buffer). In addition about 52% walk uphill, 32% walk downhill, and 16% walk along the same elevation. Patterns like this enable GIS analysts to create overlapping layers that help narrow down search areas for rescuers.