Five Takeaways from the 2015 Montana Association of Geographic Information Professionals Spring Meeting

Aside from sifting through tech blogs and reading quarterly publications such as ArcUser, it can be tough for today’s GIS analyst to keep current with industry trends. The 2015 Montana Association of Geographic Information Professionals Spring Meeting provided a great opportunity to network with like-minded GIS users, here are five takeaways:Capture

  • North Dakota Next Generation 9-1-1 upgraded its system significantly compared to Montana 9-1-1 because the state prioritized this operation across various levels of government, an act some of the attendees became very passionate about initiating in Montana. In a critical situation in areas with the old system derived from landlines in the 1970s, a 9-1-1 caller could be in a different jurisdiction than the cell tower, which inefficiently routes the caller back to a different PSAP. Whereas an IP based next generation system utilizes GIS to facilitate movement of emergency personnel.
  • Many participants were state of Montana employees, and the 9-1-1 discussion showed how Montana can be very fragmented regionally. For example, Helena-based workforces revealed different priorities throughout the vast statewide geographies of the eastern planes of Miles City to the western localities.
  • ArcGIS Pro has been in beta stages for a year, and is several years (translation for us GISers: so close yet so far) away from replacing the complete functionality of ArcGIS Desktop. We sampled the software to visualize 3D buildings and flood zones in Venice Italy, which impressively rendered the hills in the background.

The ArcGIS Pro demo provided comprehensive sample data to enable students to visualize Venice, Italy.

  • It was neat to see the real-time attributes and distribution of data points during the demo of ArcGIS Collector. The issue of spatial accuracy came up, and how we as GIS professionals often hold out for higher levels of standards than we need, such as does the project really require a point to be within a meter on a park bench or a bus stop?
  • As a predominantly beer drinker, I enjoyed sampling award winning wines at the Tongue River Winery. A brilliant mid-May evening and an ambient, secluded river valley just outside of town provided the perfect backdrop for a family-style, Italian dinner. This was a great social scene for the predominantly earth-toned, business casual dressed, geographic academic-looking crowd. Interestingly, the owner of the winery told our table that they bought the land in 1990 and did not discover grapes could grow there until 2004 when they first planted the vineyard.