A Better Future

Jack Dangermond shares his vision of how we can use GIS to shape our future.

Jul 14th, 2014

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00:10I'd like to move now onto the theme of this conference, which is GIS Creating Our Future.

00:19Now, more or less, you and I think about the future every day.

00:24We are involved in the future--the future is us.

00:28Maybe, you might say...you think about the future of baseball.

00:35You think about your favorite sports team.

00:37You think about the future of the weather.

00:39Some of you are actually engaged, professionally, in predicting the future.

00:43And when I was researching this, I came across a quotation by Peter Drucker.

00:48He said, "The best way to predict the future is to create the future."

00:53It actually inspired me for this very talk.

00:57And, well, come to think of it, you and I live in two worlds.

01:05We live in kind of an ordinary world, where we go to work every day...

01:09...it's the real world that we live in, it's the world as things are.

01:14We operate in kind of a stimulus-response mode.

01:19You know, things happen.

01:20We respond, we go to work, we eat, we have our family, we have our friends.

01:24We live in that world, don't we?

01:27But we also live in this very interesting, parallel world.

01:32I would call it, "the extraordinary world," which is the world of imagination...

01:38...and dreaming, and thinking, and creating.

01:40So we live in this ordinary world and this extraordinary world--both at the same time.

01:45And a good example of what I'm talking about is an architect.

01:48An architect imagines and then they do all the planning and design.

01:53And then they create, right?

01:55But you actually do this every day in your daily life.

01:57If you imagine buying a house and then you buy it...

02:02...or you imagine a career or you imagine all sorts of things...

02:06...and you then act on your imagination...

02:09...or you create in your own way.

02:12It's about this extraordinary world that I want to talk about this morning with you.

02:21And do it in such a way that it involves you or frame it in such a way that...

02:27...that you understand it quite personally.

02:31You and I are also living in a world that's facing serious challenges...

02:36...population growth, urbanization, pollution, energy use.

02:41All of these things that we both confront and some of you are working on...

02:46...and also understand is affecting climate change, is then in turn, affecting our...

02:54...cohabitation of the planet, everything in the living world.

02:59This is not only affecting our little environment that we're living in...

03:05...but it's also affecting actually everything.

03:08It's changing and creating severe climates.

03:12It's affecting drought, it's affecting food production.

03:16We're in kind of a little web of pretty interesting change.

03:21And this in turn is also affecting our social world...

03:26...social controversies, social conflicts, social migrations.

03:31It's an unprecedented time.

03:33We've quadrupled the amount of population.

03:36We know these stories quite well--but think about it for a moment.

03:40This is our little world here.

03:45At this particular time, geography is more important than ever.

03:51That's my sense; that's all that I can make about it personally.

03:56The very work that you do is more important than ever.

04:00Geography as a science provides us the context and the content of our world.

04:08It provides a framework for understanding our world; bringing all our measurements...

04:12...together, analyzing them, visualizing them--understanding.

04:19It's not simply the physical geography that I'm talking about...

04:23...it's also ecology, the interaction of plants and species...

04:28...sociology, the interaction and patterns.

04:30Economics, the interaction--the money, the physical environment.

04:34And also, human patterns are birthed and understood through geography as a medium.

04:43GIS is integrating geography into virtually everything we do.

04:49It's changing the way we think through seeing things differently.

04:54Catherine Sullivan, head of NOAA--National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration...

04:56...who is sitting here right in front of me, must have had her mind changed, her whole...

05:01...world changed when she became an astronaut and saw the world differently.

05:07We're going to hear more about that this afternoon.

05:11GIS is doing that for people.

05:12It's changing the way we see things.

05:15In our little organizations and also at the planetary level.

05:20And it's also changing how we act.

05:24Understand, act, Richard Saul Wurman's understanding precedes action.

05:31GIS, your GIS, is evolving.

05:35Your GISes are becoming are becoming part of an interconnected platform.

05:42Your server is connecting up.

05:43Your desktops are connecting up.

05:46Your apps are being fed by shared community content.

05:51Not that you want to share everything, but certainly this trend is emerging.

05:54I like to call it, "Web GIS."

05:57I don't mean simply web, like the Internet, I'm talking about web services, a new pattern.

06:03And it's co-evolving with everything else like faster machines, web services...

06:09...more open environments, more open policies, networks.

06:15So this is interesting times.

06:18Web GIS is bringing together all of our data, connecting it, our technologies, our people.

06:27It's creating, my sense, is it's creating a framework where we can actually work on...

06:32...on those very challenging problems that I talked about a moment ago.

06:38Web GIS is leveraging, advancing, technologies; the world of measurement...

06:44...the world of computing, the world of networks.

06:48It's in a way layering on top of that infrastructure.

06:54People describe this as the cyber infrastructure...

06:56...or other people have called it "the Internet of things."

07:00Or there's other names for it--I like to call it "the nervous system of the planet."

07:05Web GIS is layering on top of that bringing to life into real use the planet's information...

07:14...and then your information in various pieces both inside your organization and beyond.

07:22Web GIS integrates all types of data, all types of information...

07:27...organizing and sharing your own focused work through web maps and web services.

07:34Your maps are becoming web services.

07:37Your analytics are becoming services.

07:41And imagery, as services in real-time, in situ data, and social media is being normalized...

07:48...through web services and web maps.

07:50A powerful framework, enterprise data, even big data, through a common language of...

07:58...web services and web maps and these are being served through portals.

08:03I mean ArcGIS Online itself is now making between...

08:06...one and two hundred million maps a day.

08:10And it's just beginning, actually.

08:12This is being implemented both in the open web...

08:16...but it's also being implemented on premises in various organizations.

08:22And the app revolution is making this web GIS, all of its content available everywhere...

08:29...or the old cliché: anytime, anywhere, on any device, I can now access...

08:35...this new medium of web services and web maps...

08:38...bringing GIS to life in whole, new ways.

08:44And that, and a lot of other things, in the web GIS family, are transforming how...

08:51...GIS professionals work--how you do your work.

08:53It's improving how you organize and share your knowledge.

08:58It's enriching your own personal work because suddenly you're getting...

09:02...this new stream of information without having to go gather it all yourself.

09:07But it's also allowing you to support...

09:09...involvement in sharing in collaboration communities.

09:13Sharing your data, sharing your maps, sharing your models, sharing your layers...

09:17...and sharing your workflows; the kind of community spirit that we have here is...

09:22...taking a new life in the web.

09:25And this is improving your own productivity, but it's also making everybody's GIS better.

09:34It's against this background that I want to talk about one of my favorite subjects: geodesign.

09:39Geodesign is a formal process that takes geographic information...

09:45...and links it to the design and decision making...

09:49...and planning process using collaboration building on the power of GIS into this cycle...

09:56...allowing alternative plans to be looked at in virtual ways and compared and evaluated...

10:02...and then better decisions made.

10:05For me, when I was first introduced to this methodology, this was almost 50 years ago...

10:10...by my professor Carl Steinitz who is someplace here in the audience...

10:13...right here, yeah, as a matter of fact--hi Carl.

10:17I was overwhelmed.

10:18I mean--my God!--the technology was not good.

10:23But Carl's brain made it come to life for me and actually set me on a course of...

10:29...of my entire career.

10:31Some of you right now are thinking, "Well, oh Jack! That's some 'landscape architect's...

10:36...thing' or that's for city planners or some little 'nichey' thing like designers."

10:43No! Geodesign is about designing the landscape.

10:49And it's equally interesting for business people wanting to locate stores...

10:54...as it is for people who want to farm.

10:58Farmers can use geodesign; in fact, they do.

11:00They do it manually not leveraging this powerhouse of information that's there.

11:05In fact, if I look across all of the work that I saw in the last couple of weeks...

11:10...geodesign has a role to play in almost everybody's activities.

11:14It's extending from the science side into the creative side...

11:19...into the extraordinary world side--your work.

11:24So, in some ways, I want you all to become geodesigners.

11:30I mean it's rather a big...

11:32...it's rather presumtuous of me to suggest that you would do that.

11:36But I want you to have a thought about it; I want you to think about it this week.

11:41And I mean I thought about it a lot--I actually think it's about time that we move...

11:46...in this direction because the technology and all of the, well...

11:51...all of the problems that we're having clearly need this kind of technology role.

11:58Creating a better future--and here is again is a presumption by my part...

12:04...I think requires GIS professionals.

12:09It's only you that actually can understand everything I'm talking about.

12:13Envisioning what's possible, understanding and embracing these...

12:17...these web GIS tools and the tools of geodesign.

12:21And showing the leadership and doing the work which you guys are quite good at doing.

12:28So during this week, I'll simply challenge you to think about this...

12:32...as we go along and talk about it.

12:36You might walk away saying, "Well, oh, that's just a Jack idea...

12:40...a visionary slide or something like that."

12:43It's my sense that it's not.

12:46When I watched your work for decades, I watched how you work and...

12:52...I've also, well, I know a little bit about the technology and where it's going...

12:57...and what's happening around it technically.

12:59And my sense is this isn't just a possible thing; it's not just a probable thing...

13:07...I think it's actually inevitable that you guys do it.

13:11So give it a thought.

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