ESRI leads GIS users into the future

 If you've known Jack Dangermond for a while, or at any time during his illustrious career, he hasn't changed over time.  He's still as passionate about GIS, geography, and mapping as my son is about chocolate in a candy shop.  Jack is genuinely interested in his users work across industries, and as usual, he kicked off the 2008 ESRI Users Conference by publicly recognizing their efforts—noble efforts in what Jack considers a necessary professional calling to improve conditions of the planet, society, and humanity.  Award after award, Dangermond recognized the accomplishments of users around the world with use cases ranging from mapping poverty in Venezuela for economic development initiatives, to the US Dept of Interior's use of GIS to contain wildfires in California & their program to map threatened polar bear range habitats in the arctic.

Beyond these annual recognitions, Jack always has a vision to present.  This year, his vision was Action—geography in action.  By action, he discovered through his decades of work with ESRI users that they are collectively creating more sustainable action leading to better, smarter, more informed decisions .  He attributed this phenomenon to what he coins "the GIS Web" of collaborative mapping and geographic knowledge sharing.  Jack's GIS Web is clearly a social fabric, but also an information architecture to support social exchanges.  ESRIs GIS Web is not only a global participatory system of content publishers, but also an architecture designed around cloud computing concepts of the world wide computer for consumption.   And all publishing, consumption, and sharing of geographic information & knowledge is available to all citizens & consumers, knowledge workers, GIS workers, and enterprises - across desktops, mobile devices, and on Web browsers. 

The ArcGIS 9.3 release is the underpinning of this social and information architecture, and Jack cited and demonstrated improvements in the areas of performance & quality in the way of map caching (which was lighting fast) to share more efficiently, extended support for connected mobile GPS-enabled devices, and in the areas of extensibility with new Web mapping API support for FLEX, javascript, and Silverlight designed to extend more for the Web developer.  His anticipated patterns of usage for the new technology inlcude mashups, Web mapping, mobile mapping, enterprise computing, distributed spatial data infrastructures, and support for Google's user-generated GeoWeb by way of KML standards support.  All of these, plus making Microsoft Virtual Earth services available for ESRI users to consume, are part of ESRIs endless mission of making geographic knowledge available to everyone.  They are clearly on track to making that mission a vision reality despite all the disruptive mapping innovations they've encountered in the last three years.