Talking about GIS31 Aug, 2004 By: Sara Ferris
ESRI International User conference showcases GIS in a number of roles
This year's ESRI International User Conference showcased the growing role of GIS in applications ranging from keynote speaker Rita Colwell's efforts to understand and prevent cholera outbreaks to determining where to plunk down your next drive-through expresso stand.
Figure 1. ESRI software powers AAA’s Internet TripTik tool, which provides both an overview map and tiled detail maps of your itinerary, as well as details on gas, food, and lodging.
ESRI founder and president Jack Dangermond noted that GIS is emerging as a new language, offering five different methods of collecting and communicating geographical information: data models, geodata sets, maps, process and workflow models, and metadata.
Technology driving the spread of GIS includes more powerful workstations and more robust data repositories. Web services foster a distributed computing environment, with peer-to-peer sharing of schemas, data, and other resources. Mobile and wireless technology is also changing the way people interact with GIS systems, though the traditional workstation won't be going away. In its 35th year, ESRI reports more than 1 million seats sold to around 100,000 customers.
Desktop developmentsArcGIS 9, released in May, has reached 50% deployment among the ESRI customer base, Dangermond said. The focus in this release is usability-easier editing, faster printing, and batch geoprocessing. On the list of top enhancements are support for large data sets, keyboard shortcuts, and a layout preview in printing as well as background printing. Also new is the ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension, which incorporates technology from Safe Software to directly read a range of common file formats, including GML, XML, DWG, DXF, DGN, and Intergraph GeoMedia Warehouse.
The popular sketching application SketchUp can now exchange data with ESRI's 3D Analyst extension via two new plug-ins. You can use SketchUp to create 3D models and apply textures, then save them to a geodatabase. Download the plug-ins at www.sketchup.com/GIS.
A bounty of other extensions and applications are available, as well as data and training options. The Community Tapestry product, for example, categorizes United States neighborhoods into 65 segments based on socioeconomic and demographic composition. For more details on the ESRI product line, visit www.esri.com.