GIS for the Nation

Jack Dangermond, Esri president, provides a vision for creating a GIS for the entire country. 

Jan 19th, 2011

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00:01I'd like to talk at a vision level a bit about your vision, what many of you have been developing...

00:08...a kind of vision for a GIS for the nation; in other words, scaling it up, moving beyond projects or a single department...

00:18...or a single agency, scaling it up to a GIS for the entire country.

00:28Our nation has a lot of problems to solve, a lot of challenges from economic recovery to conservation of our environment... bettering human health.

00:40Actually, all of those things that I just showed you examples of stuff that you're working on.

00:45And GIS is absolutely an interesting approach for this.

00:49It's recognized at the highest levels of this government but in governments around the world.

00:55Driving efficiency, making better understanding, improving the way we make decisions, addressing these very challenges.

01:04The question that I have is can we actually create a platform which extends your work, the work that you're doing now... that it supports our entire country, all of society, not just G to G, a vision which is very important... department to another, one mission to another...

01:25...but also opening it up so that we can leverage our collective geospatial investments...

01:31...what taxpayers are paying for, and make them widely available.

01:37I mean, it's been estimated that there are hundreds of millions, perhaps a billion, dollars of infrastructure... the federal government that is largely mission focused. And that does a good job.

01:48It saves lives, it helps us be more productive, it helps us advance our science, but it's not leveraged very much.

01:57And the very vision of GIS is that we do integration and we make it available for lots of applications.

02:06Can we do that at a national level? That's an interesting thing and a provocative one.

02:13Where we not only organize our datasets but we extend it to support everybody else, integrating geography data...

02:22...models, services, all these things into virtually everything we do.

02:28Building new communities, supporting access from one discipline to another, and helping us.

02:40That's intriguing.

02:42This notion is already emerging, actually, around the world.

02:45Here in the U.S. with the good work of the FGDC in envisioning the geospatial platform...

02:53...but it's already actually been implemented in China.

02:58The major agencies have implemented systems, federated them, made them replicated in a nationwide system.

03:08It's being talked about and architected in Europe, but it's already been implemented in Abu Dhabi.

03:15It's being talked about and planned for in India, in Indonesia, in Australia, in Singapore.

03:23And the question is, Can we do this here in our country?

03:30There's many forces that are converging that are promising.

03:34Some of them are, for example, computing is evolving; it's getting faster, it's getting more mobile.

03:40It's cloud...the architectures and policies promoted by this administration, for example, of let's move to the cloud...

03:49...are exactly in line with what will be necessary to make this occur.

03:54We're also measuring more. We're moving to a persistent surveillance environment.

04:00Okay. We're not there yet, but we are integrating everything that moves on the planet into a geospatial framework...

04:07...and putting it into these networks, the Internet, and allowing us to move to this idea of collective geographic information.

04:16The software's also evolving. Not just your old GIS anymore; it's moved to the web, and it's more usable, more friendly.

04:27And science is coevolving with it, building new understandings of how the world works.

04:33Social networks, human terrain, measurements of all sorts, integrated, are allowing us to see the world in a different way.

04:44And at the same time, we're seeing the emergence - again, thanks in part to this country's policies of open data policies...

04:52...not just open data but also services.

04:56And these policies of pushing technology and making data available across different organizations, I think, is leading the way.

05:08Also, you are building this knowledge.

05:12You're creating it as data and you're not only sharing the data, but you're sharing services that can be easily connected.

05:21I'll take this soil map from here and this health information from there...

05:26...and I'll put them together as services and see what kind of interesting conclusions that I could make.

05:34This is leading to more collaborative approaches in problem solving.

05:40And people talk about it often. They've been talking about it frequently for years.

05:45"Place-based approaches are important where we bring things together."

05:50This is now starting to be possible not only with your authoritative data sources but also crowdsourcing, data from different sources.

06:01Citizens are getting involved, contributing information.

06:06Professional workers are contributing VGI data on top of or into systems, and that's in turn being leveraged.

06:17This'll be challenging for GIS professionals because it's not simply authoritative data sources that we need to manage now.

06:25We need to be able to enrich GIS with these new forms.

06:29It's kind of like, if we didn't have remote sensing in GIS and now we have remote sensing. It's like that.

06:37We didn't have crowdsourced information...

06:39...and now we have the possibility for structuring GIS so that crowdsourced information can come in.

06:45And that's going to create new opportunities for you in your applications.

06:49It's going to allow you to think differently, where we're taking real observations from humans as they make them...

06:57...and crank it into applications that give a real-time dimension.

07:03Our perceptions of GIS are changing as a result of this, and the web infrastructure...

07:09...web-based approaches, are emerging in this context.

07:14This slide points out the notion of a distributed set of data and services linked together through the web...

07:26...that can be openly discovered and made available to anyone for app development on top of it.

07:35And as a result of this infrastructure, whole new kinds of apps are emerging.

07:40Apps where they're very easy to put together, and we'll see a lot of them today, demonstrated.

07:45I can just mash up three things, put a dah, da-dah, da-dah, da-dah, and I've got an app.

07:51In other words, there's a kind of infrastructure underneath it that is easy to use, that's built out of authoritative sources...

08:00...that I can quickly snap into position and get going.

08:04That's going to enable a whole new thought process, and that excites me.

08:11This process will not simply...

08:13This platform will not only enable new ways of thinking, it's going to change actually how our country works.

08:21There'll be more collaboration. People will collaborate across agencies, across departments, across missions.

08:29There'll be more integration. The place-based notions that people talk about will be easy and commonplace.

08:37It'll be more transparent. We'll link agencies with legislators with the public to see these common maps.

08:47And we're already seeing it; not so much in the federal government but certainly in states...

08:50...and especially in local governments just opening up.

08:55And for a variety of reasons, efficiency is going to be the bottom line here, forcing or evolving towards shared infrastructure.

09:08And the bottom line of all of this, it's going to be much easier to do GIS.

09:13It won't just be you doing it, although you'll be building the infrastructure and supporting it.

09:19It'll be a whole new class of users that you need to support, providing the very vision that I've been talking about.

09:30GIS for all of society.

09:33So is a national GIS platform possible?

09:38My feeling is strongly yes.

09:40I would even assert that it's inevitable. It's going to hit the target.

09:47It's going to allow us to integrate multiple organizations, the content, the services.

09:54It'll mean that GIS professionals build lots of this authoritative source...

09:59...and gets shared out as services and applications to everyone else.

10:04And it'll be based on cloud. It'll be based on the concepts of sharing. It'll be based on easy-to-use technology.

10:12And you're going to see this again and again and again.

Copyright 2016 Esri
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