USGS Involved in World's Largest GIS Conference
The USGS was well represented at the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) User's
Conference held in San Diego during the last week of June.
With almost 10,000 people (over 90 countries represented) in attendance, this was billed as
the largest GIS conference in the world. ESRI produces GIS software that includes ArcInfo and
ArcView. "Geography is Our Global Network" served as the theme of the gathering. Florence Wong,
Mike Hamer, Randy Bucciarelli (Menlo Park), Mandy Frick (St. Pete), and Barb Seekins (WHFC)
attended representing the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program. Mandy and Barb each
presented a poster on coastal change based on LIDAR data and historical charts, respectively.
There were USGS speakers in the plenary session, a USGS booth in the exhibit hall, and a
lunchtime gathering of a USGS Special Interest Group.
Barb Seekins at GIS poster session.
Dr. Chip Groat, USGS Director, gave the keynote speech and spoke about integrated science.
He talked of the recognition of the world as a living system and our role in understanding
change. He defined "Gateway to the Earth" as a coherent set of interfaces that enables
diverse users to find, get, and use natural science information. He mentioned the importance
of data standards and the data need to "collect once and use many times." He spoke about a
number of USGS efforts: the National Atlas, National Elevation Data, the studies to
understand effects of hurricanes and earthquakes, and the need for predictive models.
Dr. Chip Groat
gave the keynote address on integrated science.
Pamela Johnson, Deputy Director of the National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR),
presented Hammer Awards to ESRI and to six teams from the National Spatial Data Infrastructure
(NSDI) Community Demonstration Project. The awards (given on behalf of Al Gore) are named
after hammers that once cost the government $400. They symbolize the improvement in government
efficiency and were given for efforts in using federal, state, and local geographic data
to solve complex problems. An emphasis was put on developing "E-Government."
Jack Dangermond (president of ESRI) and ESRI representatives talked about the new family
of GIS software products dubbed ArcGIS. The products are designed under a new architecture
that will allow for advanced capabilities. New features include geographic-window data
searches, geospatial bookmarks, dynamic-image registration, digital-map rotation, and
improved cartographic symbols. Internet map-serving software facilitates interactive mapping
and collaborative mapping efforts. Technical workshops went into details on the latest
The Geography Network premiered at the conference. This is a
collaborative, multi-participant system for publishing, sharing, and using geographic
information on the Internet. Jack Dangermond said, "This is the most exciting thing that
we have ever done!" He went on to say, "It offers new ways to cooperate in the development
and sharing of information, provides a portal for spatial data cataloging, and connects
users with the data they need." One of the featured data sets is the USGS National Elevation
Dataset, a seamless Digital Elevation Model for the United States at 1 arc-second (~30-m)
resolution. Data clearinghouse nodes will be connected to the Geography Network. Also
mentioned was National Geographic's "Map Machine." A dynamic atlas accessible over the
internet that was created using ESRI's software, the Map Machine, illustrates internet
Other presentations of particular significance to our program were given under the
"Oceanography, Coastal Zone, and Marine Resources" Track. The topics ranged from assessing
the accuracy of LIDAR imagery to 3-dimensional nautical charting to Roger Goldsmith's
(WHOI) talk on "Some Applications and Challenges in Extending GIS to Oceanographic Research."
The conference offered intelligent insight into future GIS trends along with enormous amounts
of technical information. The continuing challenge is the application of all this to our
science and research efforts.
Photos courtesy of Joseph Kerski, (USGS, NMD, Denver) and S. Ford.
Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI)
online geography resource
in this issue:
Biscayne Nat'l Park Corals
Santa Monica Bay
Salvage for Science
Joint USGSMonterey Aquarium Cruise
Teachers Tour WHFC
Students Tour WHFC
West Falmouth Harbor Water Sampling
World's Largest GIS Conference
SC/GA Coastal Erosion Project
NOAA Data Integration
Talk at WHFC
New Babies in Western Region
New Coastal & Marine Geology Circular
August Publications List