Recap of the 24th Annual Virginia GIS Conference

By: Jonah Adkins

virginia gis conference

The 24th Annual Virginia GIS Conference was held Tuesday, September 17th, 2013 in historic Williamsburg, Virginia. The event was sponsored by VAMLIS, the Virginia Association for Mapping and Land Information Systems, and was attended by around 250 GIS practitioners from across the state of Virginia.

I had the pleasure of attending the conference, along with a few of my GISi colleagues: Anthony Scardino, Melinda Dubaj,  John Martin, and Marvin Garland.  The conference provided a great networking atmosphere to catch up with old colleagues and meet up and coming professionals, as the attendees ranged from college students to private sector to state and local government officials.  Dan Widner, from the VGIN (Virginia Geographic Information Network) kicked off the morning with a keynote on the future of GIS within the commonwealth, and was followed by a round of lightning talks, among those, a great overview of the Virginia Broadband Initiative by Michael Edwards of VITA (Virginia Information Technologies Agency).

There were over 40 sessions offered throughout the day, which covered a wide variety of topics. Highlights from the ones I attended were:

  • Jackie Stephan of The City of Newport News discussed tracking energy usage within its offices.
  • Mark Mandell of VDOT (Virginia Department Of Transportation) showed how they tracked snow plow progress via a mobile application and web mapping application during snow events.
  • Andrew Becker displayed results from his Masters project on the predicting Amphibian Breeding Pools.
  • Mike Sweeney from Esri gave a deep-dive into ArcGIS Online and the entire ArcGIS Platform.
  • Chris Gerecke talked about improving user experience in application design.

Lastly, David Wells, the president of VAMLIS awarded some door prizes provided by the conferences sponsors as well as, announced the winners of the map gallery at the college and professional level. A conference sponsor also hosted a short reception afterward that provided a great book-end to day’s events.


Even More Tidbits From The Esri UC

So we shared some Esri UC awesomeness with you guys a couple days ago and we thought we’d post a few shots from Wednesday and Thursday. Expect a full conference recap from us next week.


Wednesday was a day jam-packed with great events. We had the pleasure of attending a few more of our client abstracts.

Here’s Diego Negron from the USMC talking about Integrating Noise Tools and ArcGIS into RMTK.

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And of course it was awesome to see our client, Sean from Gwinnett County GA, talk about Web Technologies for Water.

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Then Sandrine Schultz from the Navy CNIC team rocked the house talking about Enterprise Data Sharing in Defense.

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Later we caught a peek at GISi Indoors head, Michael Healander, shooting a video with GISCafe.

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Thursday was looking great…we learned of our client, the CDC, winning a SAG award!  We couldn’t have been more proud of them.


And we had some great conversations happening at our booth.


Finally we announced the winners of the GIS Ink contest – Theresa Quill and Angela Jacques.  Both won a GoPro cam.

Overall we had a blast the entire conference.  We cannot wait to get home and share with everyone our experiences and what we learned while we were in San Diego.  Keep your eyes peeled for a mind-blowing full recap of the Esri UC next week!

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A Few Tidbits From The Esri UC

Ok…this isn’t going to be a very long post since we’re still at UC and busy is a bit of an understatement.  Rest assured you guys will be getting a UC recap that will not disappoint.  But so far we’ve been capturing moments here and there with our phones and through social media and perhaps now would be a great time for a brief Esri UC mash up.

We’ll start with Sunday…

Our Commercial GM, Keith King recorded a Podcast with Esri’s Karen Richardson

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Meanwhile the guys in our new business unit, GISi Indoors, finished up Wi-Fi fingerprinting all 1,107,600 sqft of the San Diego Convention Center.

2013 Esri International User Conference - San Diego, CA

Then we made our way to the Esri Business Summit Plenary.

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Darden took to the stage talking about their investment into GIS tools and how it helps them succeed.

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The Shopping Center Group presented on how they enable all employees in their company to be GIS users.

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Our own Keith King presenting on the spatial maturity curve here at the Esri Business Summit.

Keith King – Esri Business Summit 2013 from Jeff Vreeland on Vimeo.

GISi Market Manager, Charlie Blaesser,  talking about retail and how to leverage GISi Indoors for retail spaces.

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Jack mentioned GISi Indoors in his Plenary presentation!  He invited attendees to use it to navigate the convention center.


And while there were not very many pictures or video taken from our folks at the show (we really were very busy and semi-mesmerized by the sights and sounds), we did present our 3 lightning talks: Indoor Navigation, Gesture Control, and Making Great Maps.  More on those later (we promise).


Vine  video of the room where our client, City of Dunwood Georgia, presented their abstract – New Enterprise GIS: Lessons Learned from the Trenches.  They of course rocked the house and had awesome attendance.

And here’s another of our awesome clients, Greg Hymel from the City of New Orleans, talking about ArcGIS for Local Government in the Cloud.

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And we got to take a peek at our CEO, Lee Lichlyter, sitting down to record a podcast about the Arlington National Cemetery project.

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And finally…GISi Market Manager, Kevin Stewart, showing the South Carolina National Guard our new HTML5/JavaScript GISi Oneview!

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So as we said earlier, this isn’t a very detailed post…just a glimpse into the Esri UC from our vantage point.  We’re just a few days in and we are loving every minute of the time we’re spending with our clients, colleagues, old friends and new.  Be sure to check back in for an in-depth recap of the event.

[Check out the rest of our week with even more tidbits from the Esri User Conference]

So Where Will GISi Be at the Esri UC?

Well besides hanging around our booth, mingling with our clients, old friends, new friends, Esri peeps, etc., watching the plenary, and just enjoying San Diego in general; we’ll be attending a few abstract presentations from our clients, presenting a few client abstracts as well, hanging out and presenting at the business summit, doing a few lightning talks, table talks, and having a cold brew at the Fox Sports Grill.  We are absolutely thrilled to be going to this year’s UC and we hope to see you at the following events:

Client Abstracts

GIS Tools for First Responders
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
10:15 AM – 11:30 AM
Room 31A

Web Technologies for Water
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
10:15 AM – 11:30 AM
Room 29A/B

New Enterprise GIS: Lessons Learned from the Trenches
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
8:30 AM – 9:45 AM
Room 23A

Making Enterprise-Level Facilities GIS a Reality
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
3:15 PM – 4:30 PM
Room 28A

GIS for Crime Analysis
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM
Room 30D

GIS in the Cloud: Sky-high Benefits Forecast
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
10:15 AM – 11:30 AM
Room 23 A

Modeling and Simulation in Defense
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
8:30 AM – 9:45 AM
Omni Ballroom C

Enterprise Data Sharing in Defense
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
3:15 PM – 4:30 PM
Omni Ballroom C

Geomedicine (CDC Presentation)
Thursday, July 11, 2013
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM
Room 30 A

Lightning Talks & Technical Workshops

  • Indoor Navigation
  • Gesture Control
  • Making Great Maps

Monday, July 8
4:30 – 6:00
SDCC, Ballroom 20 D

Indoor Location, Tracking, and Routing
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM

Business Summit

Business Summit Plenary Presentation
Sunday, July 7
8:30 – 12
San Diego Hilton Bayfront Hotel

Business Summit Retail Executive Breakout Session
Sunday, July 7
3:30 – 5:00
San Diego Hilton Bayfront Hotel

Networking Lunch at Business Summit
Sunday, July 7
12 – 1:30
San Diego Hilton Bayfront Hotel

Business Summit Expo
Tuesday, July 9
5:00 – 8:30 PM
San Diego Hilton Bayfront Hotel


Southeast User Group Reception
Tuesday, July 9
5:30 – 7:00 PM
Upper West Terrace of the Convention Center

Make the Most of Your First User Conference

Esri UC First Time

By: Susan King

Esri’s User Conference is just around the corner, and I’m sure many of you first-timers must be feeling just like Charlie holding that golden ticket.  The chocolate factory looked to be a wondrous place indeed, and while you are unlikely to see Oompas running about the convention center, I’d call that movie a good parallel to what I felt like experiencing my first UC thirteen lucky years ago.

Here are a few tips I’ve gathered over the years as you prepare for this one of a kind experience:


Check out the Esri UC Agenda Planning Tools to research topics of interest and find the sessions you want to attend.  Mix things up too… technical workshops can be great, but so can paper sessions, demos and group meetings.   Most importantly:  Have back-ups!  For every time slot on your agenda you should also have a back-up session or two identified.  I’d also avoid ‘Introduction’ sessions unless you truly have no experience in that topic – they are pretty basic.  If you are traveling in a group, then you have a wonderful opportunity to pool your resources, divide and conquer… so share agenda planners.

The sessions are really spread out and you will be walking a lot, so 1) wear comfortable shoes and 2) take a minute and look over the indoor maps for the convention center and other session venues (e.g. Marriott).   Better yet, download the UC Navigation app we built for your smart phone to give you turn by turn directions to the many rooms and halls you’ll be visiting.

There are lots of networking opportunities out here so don’t forget your business cards!


The technical workshops and paper sessions are great and often the meat of a first time conference goer’s agenda.  Popular sessions fill up FAST, so arrive early for those or you will not get a seat.  Also, be prepared to assess the match between the agenda description and the real information being delivered quickly and don’t be afraid to bail for your back-up session early.

Don’t skip the Plenary on Monday.  It is a rather interesting mix of product/new release demos, user stories and accolades.  It is broken up pretty well too, so if you really need to miss a piece you can schedule around what you are most looking forward to (e.g. demos).

A great place to learn about current trends and uses of the technology is Monday’s Lightning Talks.  These are built for those with a short attention span and usually take place right across from the Map Gallery and reception so you can float between them.


You are going to have access to a bunch of nerds during the week.  In fact, you’ll have access to people that literally ‘wrote the book’.  Jot down a list of any processes, tools or general questions that have been plaguing you and visit the Support Kiosk to pick the brains of the Esri team.  (You’ll find product developers there in addition to support folks.)  Any vendor of any GIS related software, tool or service is likely to be an exhibitor, so jot down your questions for them too.


Go to the Map Gallery (preferably Monday night to get the full experience and meet the creators).  Truly I’m not a cartography buff but these are just so impressive and it really is a great way to see what folks are doing out there.

Leave yourself plenty of time to hit the Exhibit Hall.  Of course you need to come by and visit GISi at Booth 2417, but visit the other vendors too and explore all of the new products and services emerging in our industry.  The Esri Demo Theatre is also up and running constantly in the Exhibit Hall with short, targeted sessions about products, tools and processes – another great opportunity to learn about something new and then hit the accompanying product island to test drive yourself.

The Esri Store is always lovely to browse, especially if you (like me) have no qualms about hitting the floor and spending some time to peruse the Esri Press books.


Attend Special Interest and User Group Meetings (Hint: You can search those in the Agenda Planner). Many of these meetings take place in the early evening and have a social component as well so they present a great opportunity to meet folks already connected to you in some way, plus you can make plans to meet up later.  There are often additional industry events in the evenings as well that you can find out about through these meetings.

On that topic, there are thousands of people attending this conference so pick a designated meeting place in the convention center that everyone will know if you are trying to meet up with folks (e.g. in front of the Esri Store or GeoLounge).

There are lots of other focused opportunities to meet fellow geeks too; for instance check out the Dev Meet-Up or Speed Geeking here.


During your busy days at the convention center, you can hit the GeoLounge upstairs in the convention center to relax and check emails.

If you are one of the few folks that aren’t going to find a lunch spot on your fave smart phone app, the Information Desk in the Foyer has hard copy maps for eateries and points of interest.  If you have 1 hour or less for lunch, try the food truck options on the lawn outside the convention center or you might be able to grab a quick bite in Seaport Village; the Gaslamp Quarter gets quite busy for lunch so just plan on the time and try to veer off the main drag.

At the end of the day, you should: 1) Leave the convention center, 2) Remove Geek Badge and accompanying GIS paraphernalia (e.g. map book, bag), 3) Enjoy San Diego with some of the new folks you’ve met this week.  The sense of community in our industry is one of the reasons many of us have stayed with it for so long.  Thursday night‘s party is back at Balboa Park again this year and if you’ve never been to the party or the park, it is worth checking out.  And remember… It is a long week with lots to do so Learn Lots, Have Fun and Pace Yourself!

Monday Evening Esri UC Lightning Talks from the GISi Crew

lightning talks

One more week until we get to board our planes and head over to beautiful San Diego for the Esri UC.  You wouldn’t believe how much planning and preparation we’ve been doing lately just to make everything not only go smoothly (as in our crew shows up and has hotel rooms waiting for them) but also truly special for our clients and the people we hope to meet and network with.  One very awesome detail on our list – Lightning Talks.  Like lightning, they’re quick…as in 5 minutes quick.  But don’t let the name fool you; these short presentations are always jam-packed with GIS awesomeness.  For the UC we’ve got three of our own presenting on Monday night.  Here’s the run-down:

Topic: Leap Motion

Presenter: Danny Bradshaw

Description: The Leap motion controller is an amazing new device for human computer interaction.  Will it be a breakthrough device in web mapping?  Time will tell.  We’ll discuss our experience with this cutting edge device.

Topic: Indoor Navigation

Presenter: Michael Healander

Description: Having trouble finding your way around the conference? We have the app for you. Come see how we built the Esri UC GISi indoor mapping, positioning and navigation mobile app.

Topic: Making Great Maps

Presenter: Jonah Adkins

Description: The session will provide an overview of best practices that can quickly implemented to improve the map creation process, with an emphasis on current trends in design.

So come Monday night and check them out…you definitely won’t want to miss it.  Esri UC Lightning talks run from 4:30 – 6:00 at the SDCC, Ballroom 20 D.  See you there!

Top 10 Esri UC Target Items for Navy

By: Colby Free

Given the number of events, sessions, special interest groups, demos and vendors offered by the 2013 Esri UC, it’s a good idea to have a list of target items in mind going in; specifically those items that will be of interest and value to the Navy team here at GISi, as well as our Navy clients.  So I put the question to my GISi colleagues on our Navy team for discussion during our weekly program review.  Here’s what we came up with.

The top 10 in no particular order are:

  1. Qualify new capabilities that improve, build upon and extend the Navy’s current investments.
  2. Identify new Data Management and Data Service capabilities
  3. Qualify new Image Server extension
  4. Target capabilities that factor in the current fiscal climate and supports solutions that allows a program’s capabilities to scale efficiently and effectively meeting growing demand
  5. Look for new or existing technology that bridges between an enterprise GIS and business line systems of record and authoritative data
  6. Explore Business Intelligence software and tools
  7. Lessons learned in transitioning to 10.1 as it relates to the Navy’s unique architecture
  8. Value of 10.1 for Navy business users and traditional GIS users
  9. Disconnected editing models and methods for a large enterprise
  10. Where does Portal for ArcGIS “fit”

Anything missing that we should add?  Please comment or send us an e-mail and let us know! ( /

We’ll also be looking forward to seeing the Navy represent in the Map Gallery, Sessions, Lightning Talks, and in other conference channels.

Hope to see you there,