CAD Central

31 Aug, 2005 By: James L. Sipes

ESRI International User Conference report, and other industry news and analysis

My initial thought after attending the ESRI User Conference in San Diego at the end of July is that GIS is growing up. Not only is the technology maturing, but so are its applications.

"People here are using GIS as a tool to create information projects. Their motivation is to do their work better and to make better decisions," says ESRI founder Jack Dangermond. GIS technology has become pervasive and is being used in many different disciplines. More than 13,000 people attended the conference.

Dr. Jane Goodall, the renowned primatologist, talked about how GIS is an integral part of her organization's work to protect chimpanzees and their habitats in Gombe National Park. The Jane Goodall Institute also focuses on community-centered conservation and development programs in Africa such as Roots & Shoots, and GIS is a part of these activities as well.

The conference workshops, presentations and exhibits help me not only address current problems and issues, but also give me an idea of what to expect in the future. GIS is becoming more robust with more 3D and interactive graphics, and the integration with the Internet will make geospatial data more accessible.

The Map Gallery (figure 1) is a highlight of any ESRI conference. The diversity of the maps is amazing, covering subjects such as disaster management, wildlife mapping, education, land use planning, environmental management, hydro ground models and even the location of flush toilets in Micronesia.

 Figure 1. The Kyoto City Multi-Hazard Maps by Kyoto University were selected by a review team as Best Overall Map at the 2005 ESRI event. View more winning entries at
Figure 1. The Kyoto City Multi-Hazard Maps by Kyoto University were selected by a review team as Best Overall Map at the 2005 ESRI event. View more winning entries at

Excitement surrounded the announcement of ArcGIS 9.2 and its new features. ArcGIS 9.2 will provide improved tools for map navigation, cartography, CAD support, interactive measuring, data management and Excel spreadsheet support.

Another new product introduced at the ESRI User Conference is the ESRI Image Server. The Image Server can be used by a network of users to access large image datasets and then process them in real time. The technology, originally developed by Maps Geosystems, is perfect for sophisticated analysis or visualization that is process-intensive and uses large images.

Image Server is a stand-alone product that supports software from most other major GIS vendors. This approach gives more flexibility to potential users who can chose the software that best meets their needs. Key functionality of Image Server includes file compression, data security and access logging, expandability, and scalable enterprise client/server architecture.


Image Server complements ESRI'sArcSDE server product, ArcSDE. ArcSDE is used as a GIS gateway to access large geographic databases stored in relational database management systems. With Image Server, data is stored in files.

James L. Sipes is the founding principal of Sand County Studios in Seattle, Washington. Reach him at