A Downpour of Data - Trends from Esri Conferences 2019 in San Diego

By Brooks Shannon

Every year since 1981, professionals from a host of disciplines have convened in California to discuss the latest trends in geographic information systems (GIS) and collaboratively share innovative solutions to pressing issues using industry-leading geospatial technology. The Esri User Conference offers a unique opportunity for these experts to gather, elevate our understanding of the world, and solve real-world problems.

I’ve had the pleasure of attending Esri events since 2004, starting with the Esri Business Partner Conference in Palm Springs, California. That conference, and subsequently the Esri Developer Summit over the next decade, provided a wonderful opportunity to engage Esri and make the most out of applying their technology to solve challenges within my favorite industry - public safety. But the Esri User Conference in San Diego is another experience entirely. It’s an amazing place where one can see first-hand how thousands upon thousands of GIS practitioners and stakeholders of all kinds solve problems in incredible, novel ways by thinking geospatially and collaborating with each other. Additionally, the Esri National Security and Public Safety Summit, held directly prior to the Esri User Conference, provides a special focus on the things we care the most about at RapidDeploy – saving lives, protecting property, and improving first-responder safety.

Todd Komanetsky (left), Steve Raucher (middle), and Brooks Shannon (right)

Todd Komanetsky (left), Steve Raucher (middle), and Brooks Shannon (right)


Sharing Data

I’ve noticed some trends that I find really exciting at this year’s Esri User Conference and Esri National Security and Public Safety Summit. For the past few years, we’ve heard a lot about the value that sharing maps, geospatial content, and derived analytical results can bring to public safety agencies. This year, the emphasis on sharing was the strongest I’ve ever seen. Agencies directly involved in public safety and those only loosely related demonstrated the power and benefit of sharing their data and intelligence. Large planned events, unplanned natural disasters, and multinational, socioeconomic dynamics have all been managed more easily and effectively through interagency cooperation and the common language of geospatial awareness. Agencies are coming together to solve problems.

Downpour of Data

Beyond sharing data and awareness, as much as we’ve heard about the Internet of Things (IoT) and supplemental data in the past five or six years, it’s clear this year that geospatial information is much more than shapefiles and geodatabases. We’re literally witnessing today the downpour of data that has been long predicted. From real-time vehicle telemetry to live traffic data; camera feeds to sensor-driven status updates from life-saving defensive equipment, to ad-hoc drone-captured high-resolution imagery, these streams of data are being captured, analyzed, and put to work today, by public safety agencies across the United States and the world. This foretold next chapter of public safety is here.

Actionable Intelligence

It’s also clear that our biggest challenge as a community is deriving actionable intelligence from our geospatial data to solve real-world problems. A pile of data with no insight gained, no problems solved, is merely a pile of zeroes and ones. As this year’s Esri User Conference and Esri National Security and Public Safety Summit have demonstrated, professionals in all disciplines, not just public safety, are working with public safety to identify problems and creatively solve them by developing actionable intelligence from the maps, apps, and services offered by Esri and their global ecosystem of business partners. Analysis is providing actionable intelligence today. 

I’m proud of RapidDeploy’s partnership with Esri and our commitment to solving real-world problems through the innovative use of GIS. Accurate 9-1-1 caller location, detailed GIS datasets, and the ability to share data and insights gained by leveraging artificial intelligence, machine learning, and human creativity backed by the power of the Esri geospatial cloud gives us an opportunity to solve new problems like never before. Looking back on my time in public safety since 2003, I’ve never been more excited and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.

For more information on how RapidDeploy can help facilitate actionable insights from your valuable data downpour click the link below.

Lacey McDaniel