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Highlights from the Esri Canada UC

Last Tuesday, we held our Toronto User Conference. Find out what happened at one of the country’s largest gatherings of GIS professionals.

The Esri Canada Toronto UC was held in Toronto last week on Tues. Oct. 7. It was one of the biggest UCs to date, with 851 customers, partners and Esri Canada staff in attendance. It featured 67 customer and Esri Canada presenters and a trade show floor with 20 exhibitors. Read about highlights from the event.

The conference kicked off a big picture opening address from Alex Miller, Esri Canada’s president. Addressing the conference theme “Creating Our Future”, Alex highlighted how GIS is evolving as an interconnected platform to help us solve the mounting challenges our world is facing. He described that ArcGIS is an integrated Web GIS that provides mapping and analytics, data management and, increasingly, collaboration. The opening address at the Toronto UC also included a video tribute of the late Roger Tomlinson. If you haven't seen this brief look at the life and work of the "Father of GIS", catch it on our YouTube Channel.

Alex Miller (left) and Matt English (right) kick off the 2014 Toronto UC.

Two “Creating Our Future” sessions introduced some of the latest-and-greatest ArcGIS technologies, including ArcGIS Pro, Briefing Book application and Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS—all of which had people talking on the showroom floor afterwards. It’s worth noting that ArcGIS Pro received a fair amount of attention. It will be released as part of ArcGIS for Desktop 10.3 and is being positioned as the premier desktop application for visualizing, editing and performing analysis. The presentation highlighted how you can author content in both 2D and 3D and publish it as feature and map services, 3D Web Scenes and Web Maps. Other highlights from the “Creating Our Future” sessions included, offline data collection with Collector for ArcGIS, ArcGIS Open Data and a commitment to continuously enhance ArcGIS Online through frequent, incremental releases.

At one point, John McClean, Vice President of Operations at PowerStream took the stage to describe how the energy services company recently leveraged ArcGIS Online to create a Power Outage Map to improve communication with the public.

The PowerStream Power Outage Map.

Brian Maloney, recently retired Director, Geographic Information Branch with the Ministry of Natural Resources, was honoured with the Roger F. Tomlinson Lifetime Achievement Award. It recognizes an individual for their outstanding achievement and contribution to the GIS community during their career. You can read more on Brian's impressive career and the award in this press release.

Students from Port Colbourne High School rounded out the morning presentations with an inspiring story about how they are taking a non-traditional approach to studying geography using ArcGIS for Desktop and ArcGIS Online in the classroom.

The user presentations after lunch featured a wide variety of topics, from the way the Toronto 2015 Pan American / Parapan American Games organizers are using ArcGIS Online to organize the upcoming sporting event, to how the Town of Cobourg achieved tremendous success in GIS on a limited budget, a Cityworks Enterprise License Agreement, only one staff person and seven years of perseverance. Many sessions were standing-room only and Esri Canada staff reported that the quality and diversity of the presentations received positive feedback from attendees.

The tradeshow floor featured a mix of GIS software, hardware and service providers, as well as Esri Canada support teams—all of whom were kept busy by a steady stream of inquisitive GIS users. Our social media team—of which I am a member—was also on hand to encourage UC attendees to tweet their #myGISmoment. We encouraged people to tweet us their fond GIS memories so we could map and display them in real-time on a screen at our social media table. The app we developed for this campaign is a great example of how maps, information and social media are intersecting to create a compelling medium for storytelling.

The #myGISmoment Web app on display at our social media table.

We received an overwhelming number of tweets before and during the show. I spent a good chunk of my time at the social media table and it was interesting to hear and read some of the memories and stories people shared. Here’s one from one of our partners, Paul DeCou, President of Tach West Technologies, that we captured at the UC with our Esri Canada “Moments In Time” banner serving as the background:

You can check out more #myGISmoments in a compilation we’ve created using Storify. Once again, @mapsgirl snagged the Toronto UC Attendee Top Tweeter Award. @mapsgirl's consistent commitment to UC tweeting has earned her an impressive collection of Esri Canada t-shirts so far.