Highlights from the Minnesota GIS/LIS Conference

When I travel to a conference, sometimes it’s the little things that strike me and change my perspective. This year, when attending the Minnesota GIS/LIS Conference in Rochester, it was something much larger that was my main highlight.


Len Kne (Associate Director at U-Spatial at University of Minnesota) and Kris Johnson (Research Associate at University of Minnesota) presented a mobile decision lab, which functioned like a giant touch screen tablet for interactive mapping.

The idea was to have an interface that stakeholders could come together around to design a future landscape. Utilizing the ArcGIS JavaScript API and ArcServer running locally, the map was loaded onto a Samsung Surface running Windows 7 so that decision makers can pan, zoom, mark up, and imagine how they would like their landscape to be. While a truck is required for transportation, and each mobile decision lab runs about $9,000, it was still a great way to put GIS right into the hands of stakeholders.

If I could sum up the MN GIS/LIS Conference, one thing is clear– interactive mapping is around to stay, and the future holds a variety of solutions, from the ArcGIS API for  Flex and JavaScript, to open source solutions like Leaflet, OpenLayers, and GeoMOOSE, to innovations yet to come.

Correction Note: The display is actually an InFocus BigTouch. The Samsung displays were originally considered but the BigTouch was much more portable. Thanks for setting us straight, Len!

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